(Site Director: Dr. E. Procopiou)
The Ministry of Communications and Works, Department of Antiquities, announces the completion of the 8th season of excavations at the site of Katalymata ton Plakotonon the Akrotiri Peninsula. The excavation is conducted under the direction of Dr Eleni Procopiou, Senior Archaeological Officer of the Department of Antiquities.
Postgraduate archaeologists from Cyprus (Doria Nicolaou, Panagides Panagiotis, Papantoniou Maria) and abroad (S.J Boughton, A. Blanks, G. Lantz, S. Dalton, L. Intelmann), took part in the excavations, the latter within the framework of the Leonardo da Vinci –GrEASE (Graduate European Archaeological Skills Exchange) European Educational program. The excavation is supported by the mosaics conservation team of the Department of Antiquities, under the direction of Dr Eleutherios Charalambous and by draughtsperson Mrs Mairy Tsiamberlain, Τechnician at the Department of Antiquities. A team of veterans of the British army also participated in the excavations, under a rehabilitation project. The excavation is also the site of an archaeological educational program for elementary school children.
The ruins of the site surround a shallow basin of the Akrotiri forest in the shape of the greek letter Π and the investigations, conducted at the site since 2007, run along the south wing of this complex. This wing includes two churches (Buliding A and B) flanking the west and east side of a peristyle atrium (surrounded with porticoes). Adjacent rooms for installations were located to the south of the transept and the atrium and a workshop to the north of the atrium. Entrance openings were found at the edges of the porticoes of which the southern ones join the Buildings with the interior spaces, whereas the northern ones lead to the sides of a large atrium/yard situated in the middle of the whole Π complex.
During the last two years (2013 and 2014) investigations have focused on Building B to the east of the eastern portico. An exastyle propylon (monumental entrance with six columns) was revealed and the western part of the new building (20m wide) which is divided in three aisles. The total length of Building B, including the propylon is estimated to be more than 47 metres.
In contrast to what was found in Building A’ (the floors were found to be fully covered with mosaics) the floors of Building B were found to be covered both with mosaics (central-south aisle), and Cypriot gypsum slabs (north aisle). Only parts of the decoration of the central aisle have been preserved in three zones of which the central one is narrower and shapes an axial corridor. Within this corridor, and close to the central opening of the tribelon, a very important inscription was uncovered in a circle (medallion) related with hymns of the Divine Liturgy which in later sources are chanted during the First Entrance (Lesser Introit) in the Liturgy of the Presentation of Virgin Mary.
A large amount of marble fragments from columns and Corinthian capitals was found as well as limestone ones, mainly from cornices set over horizontal architraves, some of which were found intact and decorated with acanthus leaves in relief. Fragments of transenna chancels (from intercolumnial spaces or window openings) were excavated as well as tables made from luxurious imported marbles and a large amount of colorful and gold plated tesserae, indicating an extensive surface of wall mosaic decoration.
The two ecclesiastical Buildings, their arrangement, the inscriptions, as well as the finds all compose an extremely important complex not only for the history and the archaeology of the island but also for the study of the evolution of the Divine Liturgy in the 7th century.
(Site Director: Dr. E. Procopiou)
The Ministry of Communications and Works, Department of Antiquities, announces the completion of the fourth season of systematic excavations (11.10-30.11.2010), conducted at the site of Katalymmata ton Plakoton, of the Akrotiri peninsula, under the direction of Senior Archaeological Officer of the Department, Dr. Eleni Procopiou.
The project was assisted by Mrs. Mary Chamberlain, technician/ draughtswoman of the Department of Antiquities in Nicosia and the conservation team of the Department of Antiquities in Limassol under Dr. El. Charalambous (Chr. Orfanou, M. Triantafyllidou, P Panayi). The project is also providing archaeological expertise to postgraduade students through the Graduate European Archaeological Skills Exchange (GrEASE), Leonardo da Vinci program. The 2010 team included David Abell, Bilal Badat, Kate Bayford, Edina Vina Gillham, Jeremy Hallatt, Alexandra Key, Rebecca Lees, Yvette Marks, Victoria Platt and Alexander Matsangou, as well as two PhD Cypriot students, Mrss Doria Nicolaou and Rania Michael.
During this season excavations uncovered another three aisled branch to the east of the peculiar narthex-martyrion which was excavated in 2007, forming a T shape plan. It has a width of 36 m. on N-S axis and a total length of 29 m, without the apse protruding to the west. It is connected with the central nave, the plan of which is not yet determined, through three openings, the tribelon, to the east end of the three aisled eastern branch.
Katalymmata ton Plakotonexcavation: The south transept
Along the south side of the same branch adjacent rooms were uncovered, whereas to the north side a long hall (catechoumenon) and a portico with a row of piers extend without any division. The date of the erection has been determined as the end of the first decade of the reign of emperor Heraclius (616-619 A.D.), whereas its abandonement and destruction happened slightly before the middle of the 7th century.
It was noted this season that the destruction levels of the vaulting roofs were not extended to the central aisle indicating that it was not covered with a vault but with a wooden pitched roof. This was removed during the abandonment of the monument and before its collapse by the severe earthquake of the middle of the 7th century, explaining why no wood remains were found to prove its existence in the destruction levels.
Over the square (6.15 m.side) which is in the crossing point of the central aisles, where the mytatorion lies (the raised exedra described in the 2009 press release as a secondary bema with a special role in the stage of the holy liturgy conducted in the narthex) a wooden dome must have been erected, based on complex T and Γ shape supports.
The floors of the new branch were decorated as the rest with mosaics in 9 more patterns with different motifs, preserved in very good condition. Among them were found at the centre of the central and north aisle two patterns with inscriptions in medallions. The best preserved one is that of the north aisle which bears the first verse of the 142nd psalm of David “My lord listen to my prayer”.
The finds include, as before, many architectural fragments and revetments of Proconnesian marble, small marble fragments from an opus sectilae crustae wall decoration and wall mosaics, mainly of gilt glass, glass and mother of pearl. There are also, amongst the finds, many bronze coins instrumental for the dating of the monument and bronze brackets used for securing the revetments, iron nails, fragmentary marble offering tables, glass fragments from windows and glass oil lamps.
The date of the erection of the monument between 616-619 A.D, the short period of its life, its typological similarity with the Justinian martyrion of Abu Mina in Mayrut of Alexandria and its elaborate liturgical order, as well as its funerary character suggest its identification with one of the places erected especially for giving refugee to the in-juncture Churches/Patriarchates of the Eastern Provinces of the Empire (Syria, Palestine, Egypt), who passed during this period under the Persians. According to the sources, the role of the Amathusian Patriarch of Alexandria, St John the Almoner, as well as the bishop of Amathus Theodorus was instrumental in ransoming and rehabilitating prisoners and relics, both in Alexandria before 617 A.D. and later in Cyprus.