The archaeological wealth of Paphos never ceases to amaze archaeologists

May 5, 2023

The archaeological wealth of Paphos never ceases to amaze archaeologists, scientists and the public. In a year when the world-famous archaeological treasures of Kato Paphos are in the spotlight (due to the completion of their unification project and the announcement of the construction of the mosaic protection roof), two archaeological expeditions completed another piece of the huge puzzle of the archaeological uniqueness of Paphos: 

In Palaipafos, the excavations of the Archaeological Unit of the University of Cyprus added new and unexpected data to the enormous value of the area, while in the area of ​​Palloures of Chloraka, what was brought to light by foreign archaeological missions made this area of ​​the province also an area of ​​enormous archaeological interest.

Experts attach particular importance to this last case, since it was clearly less explored and historically documented than Nea Pafos and Palaipafos. The excavation at the site of Chlorakas-Palloures has been excavated every summer by the University of Leiden since 2015. It is an important Chalcolithic site (3500-2600 BC), contemporary with the sites of Lempa-Lakkoi and Kissonerga-Mosfilia, in the neighbouring villages of the same name.

The site was, however, known to the archaeological authorities of the place since the 1950s and had been investigated by surface surveys. In 2013, when one of the fields belonging to the site was slated for development, the Department of Antiquities of Cyprus and Professor Edgar Peltenburg of the University of Edinburgh invited Professor Bleda Düring of the University of Leiden to investigate the site. So Leiden University started excavations in 2015. In 2017, the Department of Antiquities carried out exploratory excavations in yet another field belonging to the site and brought to light archaeological findings in excellent preservation. Since then, Leiden University has been excavating both fields.

Leiden University’s School of Archaeology is one of the best in the world, according to international curriculum evaluations. It maintains excavations in many countries of the world, such as the Dominican Republic, Greece, Italy, Spain, Oman and Jordan. The excavation at the Chlorakas-Palloures location has been particularly loved by both the staff and the students of the school. Every summer the excavation team comes and excavates the site for six weeks.

The team consists of qualified archaeologists and students of Leiden University of various nationalities, including Holland, America, England, France, Germany. Students from the University of Cyprus also participate. The director of the excavation is Professor Bleda Düring, and the field director is Dr. Victor Klinkenberg. The core group also includes Cypriot researchers, such as ceramics specialists Dr. Charalambos Paraskeva and Maria Hadjigabriel .

Speaking to “F”, the PhD candidate in archaeology at the specific university, Maria Hadjigabriel , emphasized that in the summer the group was hosted at the Primary School of Agios Nikolaos in Chloraka, thanks to the efforts of the Mayor of Chloraka, Nikolas Liasidis and the director of the school, Nikis Michaelidou. Furthermore, the Chloraka Community Council and the community in general have embraced the excavation and the excavation team is extremely grateful for the help and support.

“The Chalcolithic Period is a stage of transition from the Stone Age to the Bronze Age,” he points out. “Palloures is a particularly important settlement of the Chalcolithic Period with important findings. Dozens of houses, tombs, unique bronze objects and a multitude of figurines have been discovered. The inhabitants of the settlement had access to flint and ‘picrolith’ for the manufacture of figurines, they had metal objects and large, well-built houses.

The excavation in Palloures, explains Mrs. Hadjigabriel , is carried out in two fields. The archaeological digs have dimensions of 10 X 5 meters and all finds and excavation activities are digitally recorded.

“About 20 circular houses, typical of the period, have been found. These houses had stone foundations, flat roofs, and circular hearths. In addition to the houses, 15 burials have been found, all of women and small children. These are simple burials near the houses, typical for the period, with little or no offerings. Also, during the excavations, copper objects were collected, particularly rare finds in sites of the Chalcolithic period. One of them, a bronze pelecys, was found inside a house and inside a large vessel. Both the pelecys and the vase are housed in the permanent exhibition of the Paphos Archaeological Museum.

A number of stone tools and ceramic vessels have come to light. Of particular interest is a house with a number of large storage vessels, which resembles the House of Pithon at Kissonerga-Mosfilia. Last summer these vessels were preserved and welded by the conservator Raphael Evzonas and a group of students under his direction”.

As the archaeology PhD candidate states, at the end of each excavation period, all findings are kept in the facilities of the Department of Antiquities of Cyprus, and all data is provided in digital form and in the form of a report to the Department of Antiquities of Cyprus. A team of researchers in both the Netherlands and Cyprus continues to examine the data from the excavation throughout the year. Laboratory research is also being carried out, such as DNA research. Also, the results of the excavation will be the topics of undergraduate and postgraduate theses, doctoral theses, and postdoctoral research. Particularly interesting

The excavation season of 2022 was particularly interesting, as mentioned by Maria Hadjigabriel . A total of five pits were excavated, she emphasizes, which brought to light houses and a number of interesting findings. More specifically she says ‘A total of five houses were excavated and a number of pottery fragments were unearthed, as well as complete vases, stone tools and figurines made of picrolith’.

One of the buildings excavated this year shows excellent preservation, with walls up to one metre high, which is rare for Prehistoric Cyprus. This building seems to have been destroyed in a great fire, as shown by the archaeological layers of ash, the complete vessels and the large stone tools that were found on the floor.

Hadjigabriel also mentions ‘This exceptional preservation is truly a dream for our archaeologists and offers an exciting opportunity to reconstruct these buildings in which people lived in 5000 years ago and understand what activities took place here.”

Highlighting an important settlement

During the excavation season, Ms. Hadjigabriel explains that the guided tours of the excavation were held for the residents of the village, but also for other visitors, other archaeological groups and for the Dutch Ambassador. In the last week of the excavation season, in collaboration with the Chloraka Community Council, an event was held at SKE Chloraka, with activities for children and a short presentation of the excavation.

“In general, the excavations so far highlight an important settlement, probably larger in area than the modern neighbouring settlements, which had systematic contacts not only with other settlements in Paphos, but also with other areas of Cyprus,” Hadjigabriel explains. “The preservation of archaeological finds is often exceptional.

Chloraka, and the whole of Paphos, is of great archaeological interest, in all time periods. For example, near Palloures, tombs from the Hellenistic Period have been excavated. But it seems that during the Chalcolithic Period our settlement was particularly important. The Leiden University team hopes to continue their research work for many years to come, uncovering and understanding this important settlement.”


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