(Universities of Florence, Chieti and Pescara)
The Ministry of Communications and Works, Department of Antiquities, announces the results of the 2008 Kouris Valley Project carried out by the Universities of Florence, Chieti and Pescara.
The results are very interesting and confirm hypotheses that were formulated in the 2007 report, leading to further working proposals for the future. Work on the field, started on September 11th, was concluded on October 4th 2008, and focused on the following:
1. The survey
The survey on the western river bank of the Kouris valley was completed. The situation seems to be different from that of the eastern side: the only relevant findings which go back to the Hellenistic/Roman period are confined to two sites located in the low terraces in the southern area of the valley. It is very likely that the morphology of the ground (steep slopes from the dam to the roman terraces) has conditioned a north-south human habitation along this river bank. It is possible that during the second Millennium B.C. the route from Alassa or other settlements on the high course of the Kouris to the coast was along the eastern side of the river. This working proposal will be discussed in length in the future, once further data is available.
The eastern side of the river was revisited and the presence of a “farm” with an occupation phase dating to the EBA-MBA period was noted, based on the large amount of surface Red-Polished ware. The theory has now been supported by the results of the geophysical survey conducted with a Magnetometer.
Some tombs of uncertain date have also been identified during this season.
A sampling of different soils and sediments has been carried out from the whole extent of the valley. Moreover, the fabrics of the different wares collected both during survey and excavation have been identified. This research aims at locating the sources of clays and their chemical/mineralogical composition.
A further analysis concerns the study of the place-names in the valley with a view towards acquiring a general picture from a linguistic point of view. As a preliminary starting point the name of Alasiya and local toponyms have been sampled.
2. The archaeological trenches
This year the excavations were limited to northernmost site which was surveyed last year on the eastern side of the Kouris. Four trenches were sunk out, on the top of the mound and on the two lower terraces. The excavations have revealed the presence of structures dating back to the EBA-MBA period, as confirmed by the ceramic evidence: from all the excavated trenches Red-Polished wares are the most commonly attested within the pottery assemblage. A complex system of a double circuit wall has been identified. A sequence of two phases was revealed: the first one possibly dates back to the Early/Middle Bronze Age, the second (on a quite different circuit) dates to the Hellenistic-Roman period. For the reconstruction of these phases of the circuit wall, both a topographic plan by total station and an aerial photographic documentation have been used.
A larger trench on the hilltop revealed the presence of a large workshop, possibly intended for the processing of leather or textiles, as could be inferred from a series of inter-connected basins and channels in the bedrock. The spindle-whorls and loom-weights coming from this workshop area also point to this specific activity.
In a small cemetery area in the third lower terrace, a series of three rock-cut tombs have been excavated. Among the grave-goods found inside two of these tombs, there was a large number of vessels of Red-Polished ware as well as some small objects (decorated spindle-whorls, picrolite ornamental disks). The similarity noted between the funerary finds and the workshop contexts can be interpreted as an attempt to form part of a craftsman’s equipment. The analysis of the skeletal remains has revealed a multiple inhumation of three individuals (a man, a woman and a child) and a single inhumation of a woman.