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Έμβλημα της Κυπριακής Δημοκρατίας Τμήμα Αρχαιοτήτων

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The Looting of Cultural heritage in Occupied Cyprus

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AGIA IRINI

IMPORTANT ARCHAEOLOGICAL SITES AND MONUMENTS IN OCCUPIED CYPRUS

Agia Irini

    The sanctuary of Agia Irini is situated near the currently occupied modern village of Agia Irini, in the Morphou district in northwest Cyprus. The site was excavated by the Swedish Archaeological mission in 1929. The sanctuary consists of a rustic temenos with an irregular oval plan situated in an open field near the coast on rocky ground gradually sloping towards the sea. The site is rather secluded although to the north of the site there is evidence for the existence of a small settlement and burials, some dated to the Cypro-Geometric period. The temenos was enclosed by a large earth wall which covered the Late Bronze Age (Late Cypriot III) temenos remains. The entrance to the temenos was in the south and its floor consisted of trodden earth and sand. A low, irregularly triangular altar was erected in the north part of the temenos and a libation table for liquid offerings was situated close by. The libation table consists of a thick, almost oval-shaped limestone slab with small concavities cut in its upper side.


Excavations at Agia Irini


    The temenos was built in the beginning of the Cypro-Geometric I and lasted until the middle of the Cypro-Geometric III when it underwent modifications. The peribolos wall and the floor were raised and the filling of the initial floor covered the old altar. A new altar was erected close to where the old one once stood. This new altar was made out of a monolithic limestone pillar. This temenos functioned until the middle of the Cypro-Archaic I period.

    The first Archaic temenos at Agia Irini dates to the middle Archaic I period and remained in use until the beginning of the Cypro-Archaic II. The second Archaic temenos was in use until the middle of the Cypro-Archaic II period and then underwent repairs. Following a horrific flood at around 500 B.C., the third Archaic temenos was abandoned and reused again in the 1st century B.C.


Agia Irini: Figurines found in situ around altar





Agia Irini figurines in the Cyprus Museum, Lefkosia


    The sanctuary at Agia Irini is famous for its large number of clay figurines that were found in situ positioned around the altar. These figurines, probably offerings to a god, number to approximately 2000 and only two of them depict females. Many of these figurines are exceptionally large in size and a large number seems to come from the same workshop, which seems to have applied the same techniques and styles for many years. Half of the figurines were transfered to the Medelhavsmuseet in Sweden while the other half are in the Cyprus Musem, Lefkosia.

    Bibliography:
Gjerstad, E. 1948 The Cypro-Geometric, Cypro-Archaic and Cypro-Classical Periods. The Swedish Cyprus Expedition, vol. IV (2). Stockholm.









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