RESCUE EXCAVATION OF THE DEPARTMENT OF ANTIQUITIES
AT THE CHURCH OF PANAYIA TOU KAMPOU AT CHOIROKITIA
(Site Director: Dr. Eleni Procopiou)
The Ministry of Communications and Works, Department of Antiquities, announces the completion of the trial excavations conducted in the periphery of the Middle Byzantine church of Panayia tou Kampou Choirokitia (12ης.4-21ης.4.2010, 14.6-2.7.2010 and 19.7-20.9.2010) under the directions of the Senior Archaeological officer of the Department, Dr. Eleni Procopiou. The research was funded by the ecclesiastical committee of the Agios Iakovos the Persian church of Choirokoitia. The whole work was part of a drainage project aiming to create preventive conservation conditions for the paintings of the monument.
Small trial trenches conducted at the beginning of the project confirmed the existence of the expected earlier phases and led to an extensive research around the monument (-7.00 μ. to the north and south, 14.00-16.00 μ. to the west and – 5.00 m to the east).
At least four architectural or structural phases have been determined of which the earliest one (1st phase-red colour in plan) belongs to a three aisled early byzantine church (end of 6th- early 7th century A.D.) with inscribed side apses. Its architectural type is not usual but has not been completely defined yet. To the north and south sides adjacent rooms were uncovered, of which those to the south seem to have a funerary character.
During the Arab raids period (late 7th century) the church was minimized in a smaller one over the central aisle of the first phase, using with a slight alteration (2nd phase-blue colour in the plan) the central apse of the early byzantine church.
Huge lime plaques were used to dress the facades of that building giving the impression of a strong structure. This small hall church, probably with a dome, collapsed by a severe earthquake during the 8th century, and remained in ruins for some time. Soon after the end of Arab raids period (end of 10th century) that church was restored (3rd phase-rose colour in plan), in the form of a compressed inscribed cruciform dome hall (compressed cross in square), reusing some the stone material from the previous phase. This is actually the main phase of the church preserved today.
During the later Frankish or Venetian periods (late 15th/ early 16th century), the church was extended to the west (4th phase- brown colour in plan). The areas to the south and north were used for burials disturbing the byzantine strata. To the west an atrium was added with porticoes to the east and north sides. At the northwest corner the foundations of an olive oil press were uncovered.