Bust in Cyprus

Brief item from the Cyprus Mail:

TWO MEN, aged 26 and 65 were arrested late Friday in connection with a case of antiquities theft. According to a police spokesman a 26-year Syrian man had three amphorae in his possession which he was planning to sell for €900. He told police he had stolen them from a house in Limassol which belongs to the 65-year Greek-Cypriot who was also arrested on suspicion of possessing them illegally.

Police found two more amphorae at the man’s house. All five items were taken to an archaeologist who determined they dated from the early and mid Bronze Age and fell under the Antiquities Act. The 26-year-old was held for questioning while the 65-year-old was written up and released until a later date.

Latest from Paphos

From the Cyprus Mail:

FRAGMENTS of marble sculptures from a monument consecrated to the nymphs of ancient Greek and Roman mythology have been uncovered during on-going excavations at Paphos’ ancient theatre, the archaeological team in charge of the dig have announced.

The 15th season of excavations into one of Cyprus’ largest ancient theatres unearthed a number of significant finds, including fragments of carved marble adornments from the stage and from a monument to the nymphs or nymphaeum.

Paphos was the capital of Cyprus in Greek and Roman times and its ancient archaeological remains are on the World Heritage List.

Of particular interest to the archaeological team, led by Dr Craig Barker and Dr Smadar Gabrielli of the University of Sydney, is that the Paphos theatre is the only ancient theatre of Cyprus not to have undergone modern restoration. As such it is a unique structure because it is the sole remaining theatre containing visible traces of its architectural development.

Investigations have revealed that the theatre underwent five phases of renovations between 300 BC and the 4th century AD, each phase representing the evolution of ancient performance and theatre architecture. Many of the architectural features were robbed in later antiquity, and the area of the site was built over in the Middle Ages.

Five trenches were opened by the team in 2012 in various locations around the theatre and the nearby Roman nymphaeum.

Trench 12A was on the eastern side of the stage building, and located the bedrock foundations of the eastern end of the Roman stage. A new entrance way leading from the south into the eastern section of the theatre was located at a lower level than a Roman period one which may provide a rare indication of the architectural layout of the earlier phases of the theatre building.

Trench 12B continued work in the area of the Roman road to the south of the theatre that began in 2010, clearing more of the road pavements and more of a medieval building above it.

Trench 12C was on the upper levels of the cavea, the underground cells where wild animals were confined before entering combat on stage, and indicates that there were significant buildings constructed on the top of Fabrika hill after the theatre was no longer in use for performance.

All areas provided new architectural information about the layout of the theatre and surrounding building, and all areas will be explored further in the future.

In parallel with the excavation, the team’s specialists continued the archaeological interpretation of the architecture for a final academic publication in the near future.

The Australian archaeological excavations in Paphos are supported by the Nicholson Museum and by the Australian Archaeological Institute at Athens.

… we last heard from this dig a month or so ago: Digging Paphos’ Agora

Digging Paphos’ Agora

From the Cyprus Mail:

ARCHAEOLOGISTS exploring the Agora (market) of ancient Paphos have found a small tablet with the name of an official in Greek and a plethora of other artefacts including a golden pendant, it was announced this week.

“The most spectacular finds are a golden earring or pendant, ending in an ivy leaf, bronze objects such as a jug, a ladle with an iron handle, bronze ring, numerous coins, pins and other artefacts,” the department of antiquities said. “The most notable artefact among the lead objects – apart from a ladle with an iron handle, similar to the one uncovered last year, and weights – is a small tablet with Greek inscription mentioning the official –- Seleukos, son of Agoranomos (market administrator) Ioulios Bathylos.

Paphos was the capital of Cyprus in the Hellenistic and Roman periods.

The research took place between August 17 and the end of September.

The archaeologists from the Institute of Archaeology of the Jagiellonian University in Kraków, Poland, also unearthed numerous other objects including fine wares, plain wares, cooking pottery, transport amphorae, storage vessels, dated to the Hellenistic, early and late Roman, as well as Byzantine periods.

One section of the Agora, contained material – mostly pottery — of a purely Hellenistic origin, as well as walls, floors and habitation levels, which means that this area had certainly been in use during the Hellenistic period,” the department said.

Architectural remains dating back to the Roman period were also uncovered in the same area.

In 2011, five rooms were uncovered and partly explored and during the current excavations more rooms were found, bringing the number up to 12. “Most of them possibly functioned as shops (tabernae) in the early Roman period,” the department said, adding that they were probably destroyed in an earthquake.

Beneath a collapsed wall in one room, archaeologists found a bronze jug and broken vessels on the floor, including a finely preserved mortarium – a large bowl with two producer stamps and writing with the owner’s name.

Previous coverage:

Mazotos Shipwreck

This is one which I tried to  report about a year ago (when it was originally discovered) but the link went kablooey on me … so technically this is an update of something which you might have seen in Explorator last year, but I couldn’t get it into rogueclassicism, so we have a bit of a lacuna in the reportage … in any event, from the Cyprus Mail:

LATEST underwater excavations on the 2,350-year-old Mazotos shipwreck have established that the keel, and at least 15 metres of the ancient vessel’s planking has been preserved, the Antiquities Department said yesterday.

“This is of prime importance, as it places this wreck among the very few in the Mediterranean that can provide information on shipbuilding during the Classical period,” an announcement said.

It also said that during this year’s excavations archaeologists were also able to shed some new light on trade in antiquity, another important domain of maritime archaeology.

“Together with the Chian wine amphorae, the ship’s main cargo, a secondary type was also transported on the Mazotos ship: wine jugs, which were stowed among the amphorae found in the aft part of the hold. Furthermore, small fine ware pottery was recovered from the stern cabin, which was also partly excavated,” the department said.

It added that the vessels must have belonged to the crew or the passengers. One of them bears two inscribed letters, most probably the initials of someone’s name, it said.

The Mazotos shipwreck, some 14 nautical miles southwest of Larnaca, is possibly the largest ancient commercial shipwreck located in open Cypriot waters. It sank in 350 BC en route from the Greek island of Chios carrying around 1,000 urns filled with wine said to have been the most expensive Greek wine of the Classical period. Today the wreck is buried 45 metres below sea level and is the oldest shipwreck found off the coast of the island to date. The Kyrenia II shipwreck, found 50 years ago, dates back to 300 BC.

Underwater excavations on the wreck began in November 2007 after the ship was discovered by divers a year earlier.

This year’s excavations were conducted by the Archaeological Research Unit of the University of Cyprus, under the direction of Dr Stella Demesticha, in collaboration with the Department of Antiquities of Cyprus and the THETIS Foundation.

All materials recovered were transported to the dedicated lab for underwater finds in the Archaeological Museum of Larnaca, where they will remain for desalination and conservation, both undertaken by the Department of Antiquities.

Fifteen graduate and postgraduate students from the University of Cyprus took part in the project, together with 45 maritime archaeologists and divers from Cyprus and 11 other countries: Greece, Germany, Austria, France, Belgium, Spain, Poland, Croatia, Finland, Australia and USA.

… despite my intro, for some background:

… and from us way back in 2008:

Kiddy Bling from Yeronisos

From the Cyprus Mail (tip o’ the pileus to our long-time Explorator source Dave Sowdon for this):

ARCHEOLOGISTS digging a small island off Cyprus’ western coast have discovered amulets bearing male names, believed to have been worn by male toddlers over 2,000 years ago, it was announced yesterday.
The artefacts were found on the island of Yeronisos, or Holy Island, near Peyia, an important place of pilgrimage during the later Hellenistic period – 325-58 BC – when worshippers crossed the waters to pray at its sanctuary of the god Apollo.
“A series of small amulets that may have been worn by toddler boys brought to Yeronisos to mark their transitional time of weaning have been recovered,” the department of antiquities said. “One recently discovered amulet is inscribed with the male names Minas, written along the side, and Diophantes, written on the bottom. These may represent the names of boys who wore the talisman during special ceremonies on Yeronisos.”
A sherd also recovered from the site bears the male names Chariton, Thrasayis, Nikkon and Hereas.
“These are perhaps the names of boys who participated in the weaning rituals,” the department said.
Other shells found on Yeronisos preserve the writing exercises of children practicing their Greek letters. “These suggest that a school for boys may have been part of the sanctuary.”
That these amulets were made on Yeronisos is suggested by the discovery, this season, of an unfinished charm, not yet pierced for suspension and not yet engraved with designs.
In the north side of the island, archaeologists unearthed a circular platform, which they believe was used for dancing – an integral part of the boys’ education and a means of pleasing Apollo – the Olympian god of music and song, prophecy and oracles.
Late Hellenistic pottery excavated this season includes drinking cups, bowls, and juglets.
The excavation was undertaken by the New York University Yeronisos Island Expedition, under the direction of Professor Joan Breton Connelly.
NYU started exploring the island in June 1990, at around the same time as it was officially declared an ancient monument.

The original article has links to a couple of webpages associated with the project … here … and here. The Cyprus Mail also had a more general feature on the dig which is worth checking out: People-friendly green archaeology.

Temple of Apollo on Geronisos

Brief item from Bloomberg:

Archaeologists in Cyprus found evidence that an island off the Mediterranean country’s south- west coast was the site of a temple for worshiping Apollo, the ancient Greek god of light, prophecy, music and healing.

Excavations led by New York University on Geronisos unearthed fragments of pithoi, or storage vessels probably used to hold olive oil, that could be repaired to stand to a height of 1.20 meters, among the largest storage containers ever found on Cyprus, according to a statement today on the Web site of the Cypriot Interior Ministry’s Public Information Office.

The vessel fragments, which date from the 1st century B.C., were found in what appears to be a storeroom or pantry facility, probably servicing a complex of previously found dining rooms, the statement said.

The digs also unearthed a sculptured lion’s head that “would have been plastered and painted as a fitting adornment for a monumental structure, possibly a temple,” according to the statement.

Previous digs on the island showed that Geronisos was an ancient religious tourist center for worshiping Apollo, son of the king of the Greek gods, Zeus, and the nymph, Leto.

“The discovery of this storage facility represents an important breakthrough in our understanding of the experience of ancient pilgrims on Geronisos,” the Cyprus Department of Antiquities said in the statement, “and the ritual dining that seems to have taken place within the complex of rooms in the central south sector of the island.”

NYU has been digging at Geronisos for a while … some previous results are on the web from 2004 and 2006.

Triangular Temple from Cyprus

StonePages had this at the beginning of the month, but it doesn’t seem to have hit the ‘English press’ until recently. Italian archaeologists working on Cyprus have excavated a triangular-shaped (!) temple at Pyrgos-Mavroraki believed to date  to around 2,000 BC (which would make it the oldest temple on Cyprus; the jury’s still out on that one, apparently) . Maria Rosaria-Belgiorno  (Archaeological Mission of the Italian National Council for Research) told Cyprus Weekly:

“This is the first evidence of religion in Cyprus at the beginning of the second millennium BC.”

“The temple is the most ancient found in Cyprus and of a unique triangular shape. The finding sheds new light on the existence of religion on the island, since the oldest temple found in Cyprus before that was Kition and Enkomi, both dating to 1,000 BC …”

“We found no statues, although there is evidence that it is a monotheist temple. The most important thing is the altar and the blood channel running on two sides.”

“Among the finds we found stone horns which are more ancient than the consecration horns found in Kouklia, Enkomi, Kition, and Myrthou (Pighades) seven centuries later.”

Belgiorno has a website with assorted photos and diagrams worth looking at as well (the home page has some annoying music, so we’re linking directly to the page of interest).