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Geronisos Island excavations by New York University are now complete
2006-08-30 09:41:02

Nicosia, Aug 28 - The Ministry of Communications and Works, Department of Antiquities, has announced the completion of the New York University Geronisos Island Excavations, which unearthed evidence of activity terminated due to an earthquake, probably that of 17 BC.

The team of 17 excavators began work on May 18, under the direction of Professor Joan Breton Connelly, on Geronisos Island, just off the coast of Agios Georgios tis Pegeias, in the Paphos District.

They focused their efforts on the Central South Complex. This structure is made up of several small rooms, measuring roughly 4.5 square metres, which are equipped with stone platforms that rise some 0.40 metres above floor level.

Quantities of drinking cups and bowls, jugs and lagynoi, as well as cooking pots and casseroles, give evidence of dining activity within these rooms. Just to the north, an open courtyard or plateia was unearthed. It was virtually filled with hundreds of roof tiles, carefully stacked as if being stored.

A full variety of types are represented including ridge tiles, pan tiles, and Lakonian tiles. It seems as if these were ready to be used for the repair of a roof or some other construction activity. But the builders never had the opportunity to put them in place, owing to destruction by an earthquake, probably that of 17 BC.

The neighbouring trench showed further evidence of this catastrophic event. A great tumble of rubble wall material, with some fragments of architectural moldings and ashlar blocks, was strewn across a level of broken roof tiles. Beneath the debris, fine and courseware pottery of 1st century BC date was recovered, including jugs, plates, bowls, and a stamped Rhodian amphora handle. A bronze needle, a lump of lead, an iron nail, and several fragments of cast glass bowls were recovered from the gravel floor.

This season also saw the excavation of a large round oven, measuring 0.90 metres in diameter. Made of broken amphora shards set in a circle and line with mud and marl, this substantial structure probably had a beehive roof that has long since collapsed into its interior.

Quantities of charcoal and ash were found within it, as well as fragments of an Eastern sigillata, a hemispherical bowl with gouged decoration. This oven clearly served the dining activities that took place in the Central South Complex. The precise nature of this activity is not yet fully understood, though evidence points to a cult of Apollo and to the presence of pilgrims who travelled out to worship and to banquet.

Most of the material recovered here dates to the period 80 to 30 BC. An even narrower chronology is likely and it is during the third quarter of the 1st century BC that the island enjoyed its most robust period of activity.



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