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Adventures of an Idalionite: Week Three 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

One would think that digging floors would be fun. One would be wrong. I spent the majority of my work this week removing floors and subfloors from my baulk. It is a very slow, tedious, repetitious process. When you first find the floor, you have to sweep, take pictures, and elevations. After that you can excavate the floor, but once it is gone, you have to repeat the same process with the subfloor. Once you remove the subfloor, you must repeat the process again. If you’re lucky, there won’t be any more floors, but if you’re me, you’ll have floors on floors on floors.

One fun thing that happened during the work week though was pottery reading. Every day we have several pottery buckets that get washed and then bagged. For pottery reading, we divide up long tables to lay out the pottery according to each bag. Dr. Gaber comes and reads the pottery, describing what type of pottery it is, what part of a vessel it would be, and what time period it came from. It was really neat to look at all the pottery I had found laid out together and to finally know from what period they came from.

Screen Shot 2017-07-19 at 10.59.06 AMOn Friday we went on a field trip again. We drove to the western side of the island to the site of Prastio-Mesorotsos and received a tour from the head of the site, Andrew McCarthy. This site is in the mountains and has levels of occupation from the Pre-Pottery Neolithic Period (12thc. BCE) to the 14thc. CE. The area was occupied for thousands of years and constantly built upon. One of the most fascinating finds at the site is a giant stone oven which McCarthy and his team recreated using experimental archaeology. For the past two years they have performed massive cookouts for the occupants of modern day Prastio with great success.


After Prastio-Mesorotsos we went to the city of Kouklia, but took a small detour before lunch. We went to the Kouklia Snake Farm, which is a small area in a man’s backyard where he keeps snakes and other reptiles he has rescued. While there we saw the famous Cyprus viper, which is the same color as the dirt and very deadly. Whenever we discover a hole on site we always get a rebar and hit inside and around the hole to scare out any creatures which might be hiding, and it’s always a fear that a pit viper will come out. Along with the scary snakes, there was also a very sweet, small snake called a European Cat Snake, which I was able to hold.

After lunch, we visited the historical site of Kouklia, also known as Palaipafos (‘old Pafos’ in Greek). The site was once a city-kingdom, but also a sanctuary to Aphrodite. Found at the site was a Baetyl, which is a large rock which represents the aniconic goddess, the Wannasa, and would have been the object of worship. While we were at the site, we met a small black kitten, who quickly attached himself to me after I cuddled him and became my shadow the whole time we were at the site.Screen Shot 2017-07-19 at 11.00.51 AM

To finish off the field trip we went to Aphrodite’s Beach, which is supposed to be the birthplace of the famous goddess. The beach is gorgeous, but a challenge to walk on, since there is no sand, only rocks. The water, though, was stunning. It was crystal clear and a brilliant blue. I walked along the water’s edge and collected stones for about half an hour.Screen Shot 2017-07-19 at 11.01.10 AM

After the beach, my day was far from over. I took a trip with some of the people from the dig up to a house in the mountains. The owner is a friend of the dig and helped supply us with our tents, cots, and various other supplies. In the evening, he took us into the village of Pissouri for dinner and we got to watch traditional Cypriot Dancing, which involved a man having cups, and then jugs, stacked on his head as he danced. Tenninger was pulled up and successfully placed a cup on his head!

More and more each day I fall in love with this island and my site. While the work may be hard and the weather almost unbearable, it is all worth it in the end.

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