Archaeological Investigations at Palaepaphos 2016

 
 
Excavation Season 2016
 
The University of Cyprus completed the 2016 field project in the economic-administrative citadel of Ancient Paphos. This year's excavations were conducted on the plateau (citadel) of Hadjiabdullah, which houses an extensive storage-plus-industrial complex of the Cypro-Classical period, and on the nearby impressive man-made mound of Laona (Fig. 1). Both monuments were unknown prior to the initiation of the Palaepaphos landscape analysis project (2006-2016) by Professor Maria Iacovou (Department of History and Archaeology, Archaeological Research Unit).

Apparently, the plateau of Hadjiabdullah (east of the sanctuary of Aphrodite) had functioned as the centre of the royal dynasty that ruled the city-state of Paphos to the end of the 4th century BC. The stone-built complex under investigation extends over 65m. along the plateau's northern edge (Fig. 2). It consists of stepped terraces built down the slope; it is subdivided into production and storage units by means of long cross-walls and parallel retaining walls (Fig. 3).
 
1.Plan of Hadjiabdullah and Laona 2. Plan and drawing of Hadjiabdullah’s northern edge indicating the excavated complex 3. Drawing of the Hadjiabdullah Western complex
         

 
As of this year, field methods have been modified in order to ensure the collection and state-of-the-art analyses of sensitive palaeo-environment data from the workrooms and industrial units sealed under collapsed walls and roof materials. This new approach has been successfully initiated thanks to the effective collaboration developed with the specialized Wiener Laboratory of the American School of Classical Studies in Athens. Samples were taken for micro-morphological studies, and mudbrick, wall plasters, phytolith and starch analyses, while the students were trained in the selection process of bio-data by palaeo-botanist Dr Anayia Sarpaki and anthracologist Dr Maria Ntinou.

Besides agricultural products (olives, grapes, wheat etc.), whose handling and storage in the complex is now confirmed, the excavation team has come across a surprising discovery of primary significance for the economy of the ancient polity: a thick layer of crashed murex shells was found lying on the floor of one of the units (Fig. 4). It is the first time that archaeological data confirm the production of the precious and expensive purple dye (from the murex shells) in Cyprus.
4. Crushed murex shells retrieved from Room 2
   
 
In 2012, geological and archaeological investigations conducted in the context of the Palaepaphos project confirmed that the Laona mound (Fig. 5), situated 75m north of the Hadjiabdullah complex, is a man-made tumulus of significant dimensions (100x60m.). Its summit rises to 114.20m. above sea level (almost 10m. above the natural hillock) (Fig. 6). The tumulus is a mortuary monument built in order to preserve the memory of renowned individuals, but it is extremely rare in ancient Cyprus. This and its unusual construction with thick horizontal layers of marl alternating with layers of red soil, make the Laona tumulus a special if not unique monument in the Cypriot landscape. Contrary to the red soil, which could be collected from the surrounding surfaces, marl had to be quarried from its geological environment, and then transported (probably, by means of carts) to where the mound was raised. It has been estimated that the construction of the tumulus required 9.888 cubic m. of marl and red soil. The ceramic material collected from the red soil layers allows us to suggest that the tumulus was erected in the 3rd century BC. It is, therefore, likely that this labour demanding monument, was related to the political program of the Ptolemies. Ptolemy Soter had taken over Cyprus at the start of the 3rd century BC and had proceeded to eliminate the island's autonomous city-kingdoms.

5. 3D elevation of the Laona mound 6. The Laona mound, prior excavation
 
Investigations carried out in the SE quarter of the mound revealed (Fig. 7) a much older monument that had been preserved under the layers of marl. It is a rampart running north-south, so far excavated to a length of 42.5m. Two staircases facing each other, whose state of preservation is so far unpanelled, must have been leading to towers (Fig. 8). 
 
7. Plan of the Laona mound, with excavation trenches 8. The staircases of the monument uncovered on the eastern side of Laona
 
The rampart was founded at 107,20m. above sea level; its northern section, which rises to 112m., is preserved to a height of 5m. However, since the inner face is made of layer upon layer of mudbricks (Fig. 9) which, when exposed, deteriorate fast, the excavators decided to uncover only a small section (Fig. 10). The ceramic material isolated in the foundation trench between the two staircases (Fig. 11) suggests that the rampart was constructed late in the 6th c. BC, probably towards the end of the Cypro-Archaic period.
 
Due to the sensitive character of the excavated materials, the Department of Antiquities has applied preventive preservation and protection measures that have rendered the staircases and the mudbrick walls invisible.
 
 
9. Marta Lorenzon taking samples of the mudrick wall from Laona 10. Drawing the Laona mudbrick wall 11. Excavating the foundation trench of the monument uncovered on the eastern side of Laona
 
 
 TEAM 2016
 
Maria Iacovou
Artemis Georgiou
Stella Diakou
Jacopo Tabolli
Skevi Christodoulou
Athos Agapiou
Anna Georgiadou
Maria Hadjigavriel
Christiana Christodoulou
Fotini Constantinou
Elisavet Ilieva
Zenonas Socratous
Raphael Charalambous
Maria Rousou
Raphael Evzonas
Varvara Stivarou
Andria Efthymiou
Savvina Hadjipanteli
Konrad Matyjewicz
Maria Stefani
Elisavet Stefani
Panagiotis Theodoulou
Christoforos Christofi
Eleni Soteriou
Panagiota Hatzoglou
Maria Hadjigavriel
Andrea Oratiou
Maria Pari
Ioanna Panteli
Chrystalla Agathonos
Maria Charalambous
Phivos Poullos
Judith Gatt
Chistianna Kelepeshi
Stella Vasileiou
Maria Vasileiou
Panagiota Andreou
Pavel Evdokimov
Beatrice Pestarino
Director, Professor in Prehistoric and Protohistoric Archaeology, Univ. of Cyprus
Assistant Director, Pottery specialist
Hadjiabdullah Fieldwork Assistant Director
Laona Fieldwork Assistant Director
Fieldwork Assistant Director
Topographer, Technological University of Cyprus
Pottery Specialist 
Undergraduate Student, University of Cyprus
Undergraduate Student, University of Cyprus
Undergraduate Student, University of Cyprus
Undergraduate Student, University of Cyprus
Undergraduate Student, University of Cyprus
Undergraduate Student, University of Cyprus
Undergraduate Student, University of Cyprus
Undergraduate Student, University of Cyprus
Undergraduate Student, University of Cyprus
Undergraduate Student, University of Cyprus
Undergraduate Student, University of Cyprus
Postgraduate student, Uniwersytet Adama Mickiewicz, Poland
Undergraduate Student, University of Cyprus
Undergraduate Student, University of Cyprus
Undergraduate Student, University of Cyprus
Undergraduate Student, University of Cyprus
Undergraduate Student, University of Cyprus
Undergraduate Student, University of Cyprus
Undergraduate Student, University of Cyprus
Undergraduate Student, University of Cyprus
Undergraduate Student, University of Cyprus
Undergraduate Student, University of Cyprus
Undergraduate Student, University of Cyprus
Undergraduate Student, University of Cyprus
Undergraduate Student, University of Cyprus
Undergraduate Student, University of Cyprus
Undergraduate Student, University of Cyprus
Undergraduate Student, University of Cyprus
Undergraduate Student, University of Cyprus
Undergraduate Student, University of Cyprus
Moscow State Boarding-School "Intellectual"
Postgraduate Student, University College London