Archaeological Investigations at Palaepaphos 2012

 2012 Study Season

The first part of the 2012 expedition to Palaepaphos took place between the 7th and 13th of May and was dedicated to the study of the material excavated during the previous seasons. The study was conducted by Dr Sabine Fourrier, assisted by Artemis Georgiou and Anna Georgiadou. The focus of the 2012 study was the Iron Age material unearthed during 2009-2010 at Hadjiabdullah. The selected material was also drawn and photographed. Following the 2012 study season by Dr Fourrier, a relevant article was submitted for publication in the Report of the Department of Antiquities, Cyprus. The article includes a catalogue and commentary.

2. Iron Age pottery from Hadjiabdullah HA20 274 2  3. Black Glazed fragment HA61 12 4. Fragments of a transport amphora HA161 1




The second part of the 2012 expedition took place between the 21st of September and the 2nd of October. 2012-Part B season was a short exploratory excavation season conducted by a small team on targeted areas at the localities of Mantissa and Laona.

Excavations were initiated at Mantissa where the geophysical surveys conducted in 2003 (electric resistivity) indicated promising areas of investigation. Mantissa is one of the four high-rising terraces that characterize the topography of the Kouklia village. It rises to a height of around 130m. above sea level and commands a superb view of the Sanctuary and the coastline beyond. It is situated in between the Marcello and the Hadjiabdullah plateau. Earlier investigations at the bottom of the Mantissa hill were carried out by the Department of Antiquities during the 1960s and revealed a pit filled with material originating from Late Bronze Age tombs.

During our 2012 investigations we opened two trenches on the northeastern side of the Mantissa plateau (Trenches MAN 1 and MAN 2). Neither of the trenches produced any architectural remains or other features, and the pottery was relatively scarce. Ceramic remains included several fragments of Late Bronze Age finewares and large storage vessels, as well as large fragments of Iron Age White Painted and Black-on-Red vessels. There was also a fragmentary stone rubber. Excavating at a depth of around 50cm, we reached a layer of river pebbles, cobbles, and gravel embedded in gritty sandy soil matrix. This level produced no sherds or signs of anthropogenic activity and according to our team's geologist, Dr Zomena Zomeni, these river stones are probably the result of a flood, washed up onto the Mantissa hill as part of the fluvial spread. Dr Zomeni suggested that a more concretized layer of gravel, with very hard packed, carbonate matrix between the stones found further below corresponds to millennia-old depositions, and essentially equates to the local bedrock. At this point we decided to stop our investigations at Mantissa for the time being and relocate our efforts to the hill of Laona.


2. Trenches on top of Mantissa plateau. Red indicates promising areas 4. Level of gravel MAN 2 7. Late Bronze Age storage and finewares MAN 2 1 1



Laona is an anthropogenic hill rising at a maximum height of 114.501m. above sea level. This highly conspicuous hill was established on top of a natural plateau situated between the Hadjiabdullah and the Mantissa terraces. The base of the plateau onto which the Laona mound was established is estimated to rise at around 105m. above sea level, which suggests that the height of the man-made hill exceeds 9m. The Laona hillock was a truly monumental endeavor whose establishment must have required considerable manpower and know-how. 

 1. General map of the Kouklia area indicating the area of Laona  2. The hill of Laona in relation to the Hadjiabdullah plateau 3. Photo of the Laona man-made hill before excavation
Three different areas were investigated at Laona during the 2012 short exploratory season. The first one was on top of the man-made hill (trench LA 1). Excavations in this area focused on a vertical axis and revealed that the Laona hill was constructed by overlapping layers of marl and red soil. Marl is a calcium carbonate mudstone which is found on the subsoil of the Paphos region. During our excavations we revealed large fragments of marl with picking marks indicating that this material was extracted and was subsequently used for the erection of the Laona mound. The level of marl was free of anthropogenic remains, while the red soil
revealed large numbers of pottery. It is considered that the red soil used for the construction of the Laona hill was accumulated from the neighbouring settlements/burial grounds. No architectural features were found in this trench. After excavating for approximately 2.5m. we decided to temporarily stop the investigation of this trench for safety reasons.
4. Trenches investigated in 2012 at Laona 5. 3D elevation of the Laona hill indicating areas of investigation and depth reached 6. Excavation on top of the Laona hill LA 1
We also opened a small trench on the western side of the hill in the area that is in direct visual contact with the Sanctuary. Excavations in this area (Trench LA 8) again did not reveal any architectural features. It was interesting to note that the sequence of overlapping marl and red-soil layers, observed on the top of the hill in trench LA 1, characterized the western side of the hill as well. We were therefore able to establish that the entire mound was constructed in this manner.

The other area of investigations at Laona was the southeastern side of the hill where a large wall is visible from the ground. This substantial structure, which is evident on most of the eastern part of the Laona man-made hill is identified as a retaining wall, used for the construction of the mound. Our investigations in trench LA 3 exposed a very substantial wall of at least 3.2m. in width. The wall seems to be disturbed on the southwest side of the trench, and it is unclear whether this was intentional or whether this represents later activity.
We know that the Cyprus Exploration Fund who investigated this area in 1888 excavated in this particular area, expecting to uncover a Roman theatre, and therefore the disturbance of the stones observed in this area was possibly caused by the activities of this early archaeological mission. The wall was constructed by medium and large stones, some nicely built, others very loosely thrown to fill the large width. The wall also embedded small rectangular mudbricks in its construction, both of the white and the red-coloured type.

 7. The large retaining wall at the beginning of the excavation  11. Detail of the mudbricks 12. Drawing of the mudbricks 

At a depth of 1.3m. from the top of the preserved wall (at 110.1m. above sea level) on the southwestern corner of trench LA 2 we came down to a surface that consisted of large rectangular mudbricks, laid in a row on a NW-SE axis. There were four mudbricks exposed and an additional fifth was visible on the section. The function of this architectural feature, which creates a flat surface, remains unknown and will be investigated further in the coming seasons.

Excavations at Laona revealed very large numbers of Late Bronze Age pottery which includes large storage vessels and fineware fragments. Evidently, this material originates from the wealthy Late Bronze Age burials surrounding the area of Laona, but may also correspond to settlement remains. The ceramic corpus of the 2012 excavations also included EIA and Archaic vessels, mostly White Painted and Black-on-Red fragments. Based on preliminary evidence, the construction of the Laona hill is assigned to the Late Classical period.
13. Late Bronze Age pottery from trench LA3 8 1 14. Late Bronze Age pithoi Group II-4 from trench LA8 3 1 15. Iron Age pottery from trench LA1 1 1



             Team 2012 

Maria Iacovou
Artemis Georgiou
Anna Satraki
Athos Agapiou
Paraskeva Charalambos
Eleftheria Eleftheriou
Frixos Markou
Katie Kearns
Evaggelia Christodoulidou
Panagiota Nicolaou
Director, Professor in Prehistoric and Protohistoric Archaeology, University of Cyprus
Assistant Director, Pottery specialist
Antiquities Department
Topographer, PhD Candidate, University of Cyprus
Doctoral Student, University of Edinburgh
Undergraduate Student, University of Cyprus
Master Student, University of Cyprus
Doctoral Student, Ithaca College
Master Student, University of Cyprus
Master Student, University of Cyprus
1. Team excavating at Laona 2. Frixos Markou excavating at LA 8 view towards the Sanctuary 3. Katie Kearns drawing the retaining wall 4. Team 2012 at Laona