Department of Antiquities


Akrotiri Dunes Project: University of Nevada


(Project Dir. Dr. Alan H. Simmons)

The Department of Antiquities announces the completion of a two week project at RAF Akrotiri, which took place in July, under the direction of Dr. Alan H. Simmons (University of Nevada at Las Vegas). Funding for the project was through a grant from the Brennan Foundation. The primary goal of the project was to investigate the earliest Cypriots, in particular targeting remains that may date to the late Epipaleolithic (Akrotiri Phase) and early Neolithic.

Akrotiri Aetokremnos remains the earliest solidly dated site on Cyprus, and when excavations were undertaken there 20 years ago, three possibly related sites, originally recorded by B. Pile, were briefly test excavated. The three sites—Site 2, Site 3, and Site 23—all contained chipped stone materials that were overall similar to those from Aetokremnos.

The 2010 season was designed to re-test these three sites, to see if erosion and/or deflation have revealed additional artifacts. In addition, it was hoped that more datable materials would be obtained. The research also aimed to re-locate and test some of the other sites that had been previously recorded.

Site 2, the closest to Aetokremnos, showed the most promise. 400 square meters were screened collected and a test pit was excavated. Material was relatively abundant, although there was little evidence for subsurface materials. Site 3 was recollected and a test pit also was put into it. There were no subsurface materials, and the surface materials were very sparse. Site 23 was recollected and two test pits were excavated, one of which revealed a hearth. This could be recent or ancient. Radiocarbon analysis will have to be conducted in order to determine this.

In addition, Pile’s Site no. 9 was collected and tested. Material was limited, but there were several possible deflated hearths that were recorded. A small survey was also conducted near Site 9 and one of Pile’s sites was relocated as well as an isolated Neolithic stone axe that he recorded.

One aspect that the project was particularly interested in was excavating into the ancient palesols, defined by red terra rosas or “hamras.” Any materials within these would be quite old. However, the excavations generally did not recover subsurface materials.

In summary, these small sites are likely related to Aetokremnos, based on artifact similarities. They contribute to understanding the settlement system of the earliest Cypriots on the Akrotiri Peninsula. All of these sites have been badly damaged due to natural and cultural forces and the likelihood of their producing much additional information is limited. The project wishes to thank the Department of Antiquities for its support as well as the Royal Air Force for its assistance.

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