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.

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