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Adventures of an Idalionite: Week Four in Cyprus

By Bethany Montague ’18

In case you missed the previous posts: 
Post One: Can You Dig It? An Archaeology Student’s Adventures in Cyprus
Post Two: Adventures of an Idalionite: Week Two in Cyprus
Post Three: Adventures of an Idalionite: Week Three in Cyprus

This week was possibly the most exciting week of my archaeological career. While working on the baulk with Becca, we uncovered a dog skull, which turned out to be a whole dog skeleton. Unfortunately, we didn’t realize it was a full dog until we removed the skull, but nonetheless the whole experience was very exciting. It has always been a dream of mine to excavate a skeleton and Becca was more than happy to let me work on the dog. It was a very slow, tedious project, but worth it. I had to use dental picks to remove dirt carefully around the skeleton, and then use small paintbrushes to sweep up the dirt.

I also got to work in a cistern pit this week. The pit is completely filled with dirt, and it was our goal to empty, which was quite a lofty goal. I had to hang upside down in the pit, which was a workout to say the least. Andrew could fit in the pit after about a day of digging, but by the end of the week, I was able to comfortably sit in the pit and work, but we weren’t even half through the fill. Inside the fill we found various pot sherds, and some frogs! They were living in the soft, wet soil, and had even laid eggs in the fill. We removed and relocated them to a safer space.

On Friday, for our field trip, we visited the sites of Khirokitia, Kourion, and Amathus. Khirokitia is a Neolithic city made up of round houses on a hill. While there are no more standing houses, Dr Alain Le Brun, who has worked on the site since 1976, made several reconstructions of the houses to give people a better idea of what they would have looked like. While the trip was quite a hike, it was worth it since Dr. Le Brun took us over some to the fences to show us parts of the site that tourists don’t get to see.

Our next stop was the Roman site of Kourion, built near the southwestern coast of the island. At Kourion there are beautiful mosaics in a bathhouse, along with a theatre, forum, and nymphaeum. After Dr. Gaber talked us through part of the site, she let us roam free. We proceeded to run through the site, climbing on things and investigating everything. Columns are one of my favorite architectural pieces, so of course when I saw a column capital on the ground I took the opportunity to take a photo. I also discovered that I am much taller than the average Roman since I hit my head on a Roman doorway.

The final site of Amathus was a city on top of a hill that was a cult sanctuary of Aphrodite. There is a possible palace about halfway up the hill, and on the top there is a city surrounded by walls which ran down the hill. From the top you could see the ruins of a Roman port under the water. At the top there is a reconstruction of one of the large stone vases that was found at the site. There is also a sacred burial on the side of the cliff face for a heroine, Ariadne, which seems to have been a pilgrimage site. At the base of the hill there is an agora with tall columns. I, of course, climbed the walls and columns where I could.

We ended the field trip as we always do, with a trip to the beach. We went to Governor’s Beach, which has white cliffs and black sand. The water was cold, but felt good after a day of hiking up and down hills.

It’s hard to believe that I only have two weeks left. While I may constantly be exhausted, sweaty, and covered in dirt, this is an experience that I don’t want to end.

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