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Fragments of pithoi unearthed during excavations on Geronisos Island
2009-08-17 13:11:10

Nicosia, Aug. 13 – Numerous fragments of very large pithoi, which can be placed in the 1st century B.C, were unearthed during excavations at the Geronisos Island located just off the coast of Agios Georgios of Pegeia at Pafos District.

An announcement issued on Thursday, August 13, by the Department of Antiquities of the Ministry of Communications and Works, says that the excavations of the New York University at Geronisos Island, under the direction of Professor Joan Breton Connelly, have been completed.

It notes that the excavations began by a team of 18 excavators on May 16, and their efforts focused on the Central Sector of the island where they opened seven 1.5m X 5m trenches along a diagonal axis extending from southwest to northeast.

In the southernmost trench, at the very edge of the island, numerous fragments of very large pithoi were unearthed, it is mentioned, adding that one of these could be mended to stand to a complete profile of 1.20m in height, while the walls of the pithos measure as thick as 0.05m.

The announcement stresses that the pithoi, which were most probably used to store olive oil, can be placed in the 1st century B.C and, according to the excavators, they are among the largest storage vessels found to date on Cyprus.

The area from which the pithoi fragments were removed appears to have been a storeroom or pantry facility, probably servicing the complex of small dining rooms found just to the west of this area in previous seasons.

The discovery of this storage facility represents an important breakthrough in our understanding of the experience of ancient pilgrims on Geronisos and the ritual dining that seems to have taken place within the complex of rooms in the central south sector of the island, it is noted.

In addition, it says that a number of broken architectural members were also recovered from this season, including what may be the remains of a stone lion’s head waterspout very similar to one that was unearthed on Geronisos in 1994.

Traces of the lion’s sculptured mane are preserved along with the molding of what appears to be a cornice or gutter, it is underlined.

It is pointed out that this find gives further evidence for a lavishly decorated building of great importance on the island, noting that the sculptured lion’s head would have been plastered and painted as a fitting adornment for a monumental structure, possibly a temple.

Moreover, it says that excavations in the Central Sector of the island also produced rich finds from the early Chalcolithic period, ca. 3800 B.C., adding that these include a picrolite bead in a “figure eight” design, ground stone tools including a small axe and chisel, as well as quantities of red burnished ware pottery.

It also says that the 2009 seasons on Geronisos included the participation of a number of eminent scholars engaged in the study of material excavated from the island.

Dr. Jolanta Mlynarczyk of the University of Warsaw continued her study of the late Hellenistic ceramics of Geronisos, while Dr. Mariusz Burdajewicz of the Warsaw Museum continued his study on the glass finds and prepared drawings of the pottery and architecture, announcement notes.

As it is also mentioned, Dr. Richard Anderson, architect of the Agora Excavations in Athens, prepared a new site plan of East Building using a total station laser theodolite.

According to the announcement, he completed important work on the reconstruction of East Building as the vaulted undercroft of a Christian basilica, most of which has collapsed into the sea with the entire east end of the island.

Christos Tsiorgiannis of Cambridge University participated in the excavations and Victoria Grinbaum of University College London began a new study of the Geronisos amphorae, announcement concludes.

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