Excavation reports at the area Nikolides and Ampelia at Agios Sozomenos in Cyprus

Α Decrease font Enlarge font
Excavation reports at the area Nikolides and Ampelia at Agios Sozomenos in CyprusThe excavations lasted from 11 September to 27 October 2017 and focused on the Nikolides plateau, so as to investigate the fort, while in the second half of the same season, a new excavation was initiated at Ampelia

Cyprus' Department of Antiquities of the Ministry of Transport, Communications and Works announced the results of this year's excavation season at Agios Sozomenos, within the framework of the Agios Sozomenos Survey and Excavation Project (ASESP), under the direction of dr Despo Pilides, Curator of Antiquities. The excavations lasted from 11 September to 27 October 2017 and focused on the Nikolides plateau, so as to investigate the fort, while in the second half of the same season, a new excavation was initiated at Ampelia, on a small hill, where in the 2016 survey, walls were noted on the surface as well as large quantities of pithos sherds. 

Nikolides

High resolution images taken in 2013, showed an enclosure wall measuring 920 m. An isolated trench within the perimeter wall in the northeast of the site bisected an impressive wall of dry, rough ashlar construction, preserved to a height of 1.20m, which stands in marked contrast to the rubble masonry otherwise utilized in these sites and characteristic of the period. 

This year’s excavations aimed at investigating the plan of the structure, its chronological span and, hopefully, its function. Excavation on the south part of the ashlar wall found the year before, revealed a huge pile of rubble, the result of a destruction caused by the use of mechanical means. The removal of this debris at a particular point revealed part of the south facade of the tower. One very worn smashed vessel with horizontal handles, possibly imitating a White Slip vessel was found.

The SW corner of the tower was also revealed, interestingly abutting the circuit wall but not exactly tying in with it. It seems, therefore, likely that the tower was an addition and did not belong to the original construction of the wall. Further excavation revealed the plan of the tower, 15x7.5m, built of large rectangular ashlars placed horizontally on top of each other and smaller stones held together by a reddish mortar filling. The NW corner of the tower was also investigated; the modern disturbance reached as deep as its foundation, since the cornerstone is missing from its original position. 

The original circuit wall is very well preserved round the plateau except at one point, where sadly, it was cut off with a bulldozer to make a new access road. It is made of rectangular stones placed in layers and filled in with rubble, measuring at least 3.20m in width at some points. The question as to whether there were internal subdivisions, was easily resolved, as at two places, substantial walls adjoining the circuit wall and extending into the interior of the fort, were found. Its extension to the south is clearly visible and further excavation next year, may reveal the gate on the more accessible SW side of the plateau. Further excavation on the East part of the circuit wall also clarified its outline and construction. At some point, the circuit wall on the NE seems to be forming a recess; the stones of the line of the wall do not tie with those of the recess, a fact which may signify that a small modification may have been required at some point. The width of the older part is 2.05m and of the rebui

lt part, which was slightly moved towards the edge of the slope, was 1.80m. Interior walls were also revealed on the NE side, which were constructed above bedrock and seem to indicate a structure with rooms - however, it may be possible that these walls pre-existed and are a little earlier than the wall, but this can only be clarified by further expansion of the excavation on the interior of the wall next year. 

Not a single object was found during excavation of the Nikolides fort. In the layer of silt just above the floor, possibly representing abandonment, only small shreds of ceramics were found consisting of White Painted VI, White Slip I, Red Slip, Plain White, White Slip II and some Mycenaean ware and indicating a chronological range within the Late Cypriote I and II. Of particular importance are the possible Cypro-Minoan signs that have been observed painted or incised, on ceramic shreds and on pithoi, which are currently under examination. 

Excavations at Ampelia

Excavation continued at the site of Ampelia, on a small hill, at a distance of approximately 350m. across from Dzirpoulos (excavated between 2013 and 2016), at a point where walls were visible on the surface with huge amounts of pithos shreds. Although the two sites are on either side of a stream, it is almost certain that they belong to the same settlement. Excavation brought to light a building consisting of a large rectangular room, 11.6x 3.3m, with a fine gypsum plaster floor, with an entrance on the south that led into a possible courtyard with a cobbled floor. In the room, 9 stone bases were found standing in their original position on the east side of the room, where large pithoi of size 2 or 3 were placed. The pithoi were found broken on the floor. On the western side, there were more stone bases with pithoi but at least two large stones seem to have fallen from above, crushing the pithos vessels below. The large pithoi in the pithos room, ranged from a minimum of nine to a maximum of sixteen and must have held a considerable amount of produce. 

On the west part of the room the plaster floor was burnt and a thick layer of ashes, about 6cm in depth was found, as a result of a fire that caused the destruction of the building. In the same area, the roof was found collapsed above the same layer of ashes. A rectangular stone with a pivot hole may have supported a post or a door. In the next area to the west, another wall, parallel and adjoining the west wall of the pithos room was found, possibly representing a later phase. The floor was not so well preserved but it was obvious that a mixture of plaster covered the bedrock surface and, a number of circular holes were noted. Some of them may represent tree holes and their roots causing crevices in the bedrock, but others are postholes. One of them, on the NW side, contained upright diabase stones, while others, lined with gypsum may have been holding storage jars in place. Traces of heavy fire were also noted throughout the western part of this room; the subdividing walls were destroyed in this process and only small fragments of them were preserved. It is not clear therefore, whether this was originally a larger room, which was then subdivided in the later phase, into two smaller long rooms, because the fire and destruction that followed, obliterated this evidence. Pithoi were found burnt, throughout the area, and, again the collapsed roof sealed the burnt layer at some points. On the south side of the same room, smaller storage jars with incised and stamped decoration were found in association with stone grinders, a small bronze blade, diabase tools and a gaming stone. More gaming stones were found in reuse in the wall construction and some were found strewn around the surface of the small hill. A stepped limestone object was also found in the layer of destruction. 

Apart from a few broken grinders, not a single object of use was found, except for fragments of ceramics and the pithos and storage jars which were too large and heavy to be moved and were left behind. Everything else was taken away on abandonment, prior to the fire destruction. 

Two trenches on the east slope of the hill confirmed that cultivation had destroyed the remains on the slope of the hill. The huge amounts of stone and cultural material extending up to the next hillock indicate that ploughing had carried it all away. Nevertheless the site is extending from the foot of the Barsak promontory to the confluence of the two rivers Alykos and Yialias. Its size and complexity provide evidence for the urban nature of the settlement.

The ceramics are fine, well fired and of high quality, in contrast to those found at Nikolides. Base Ring jugs and bowls, White Slip I and II early, some White Painted Wheelmade, Mycenaean shreds as well as Red Slip and Black Slip, Red on Red or Red on Black, Monochrome and small quantities of cooking ware, indicate that apart from the storage jars and the pithoi in the stores, the majority of ceramics were small table ware shapes. Thus it seems that this was the storage area, where produce was concentrated, while the workshop area was on the lower slope to the south, at Dzirpoulos.

Much work still needs to be done before we are in a position to refine our understanding of the social organisation of the region and the sequence of events. However, the general picture emerging from the above survey and excavations indicate, tentatively at present, that the fort at Barsak, a formidable double circuit wall with a deep ditch on the exterior, was contemporary with the first phase of the settlement at Djirpoulos. As the Late Bronze Age progresses, the focus of settlement shifts away from the plateau and into the fertile valley below. Barsak was abandoned and a new fort was built at Nikolides, which needed to be strengthened during its lifespan, by the addition of a well-built ashlar tower. Ambelia in particular, situated at the confluence of the Alykos and Yialias rivers and on the communication route to the east, flourishes during this period and the building on the hill, obviously supervising the entire valley and controlling the produce, was established, Gradually the convenience of immediate access to the agricultural fields and the transportation routes provided by the rivers seems to have become more important. It appears, however, that before the end of the LCII, not even the fort at Nikolides was adequate enough to protect the settlement from the impending danger, as the inhabitants were forced to flee and abandonment followed.

The robust structures on the plateaus and the concentrated amount of storage at Ampelia, the extent of the site and the strategic placement of all these components, presuppose considerable planning and control over human and material resources. The pottery, particularly at Ampelia and Djirpoulos does not indicate seclusion and, proximity to the mines and on the route to the harbours must have had a major role to play, until a force majeur, led to its collapse and abandonment.

Archaeobotanological report

During the excavation, soil samples were collected for the retrieval of organic material and the samples were processed by flotation. The archaeobotanical remains, studied by dr Evi Margaritis of the Science and Technology for Archaeology Research Center (STARC), the Cyprus Institute, are carbonised and they mainly derive from the burnt area around the large storage vessels. The plant remains consist of a variety of seeds, such as barley, figs, grapes, and almond. The grapes most likely represent raisins, as several pieces of fruit pulp with visible grape pip inside are present in the assemblage. On top of the cereals, fruits and nuts few segetal and ruderal plants such as goosefoot – (Chenopodium sp.) and viper's bugloss (Echium vulgare) are present which most likely represent by products of crop processing activities or they were deliberately gathered from the surrounding landscape. The plant remains most likely represent the contents of the storage vessels which survived charred as a result of the destruction of the site by fire. More specialized studies on the contents of the pithoi will be conducted in the near future. The material from Ampelia is of great importance as it represents one of the very few archaeobotanical assemblages from the Late Bronze Age, and together with the evidence from Djirpoulos, a few hundred meters from the site, will facilitate the reconstruction of the agricultural practices and economy of the period, for which our knowledge is extremely limited.

RELATED TOPICS: GreeceGreek tourism newsTourism in GreeceGreek islandsHotels in GreeceTravel to GreeceGreek destinations Greek travel marketGreek tourism statisticsGreek tourism report

Photo Source:

Tornos
  1. 21/08 22:03

    Europe welcomes the conclusion of the bailout program for Greece

  2. 21/08 21:34

    Amazing Aggitis cave in Northern Greek city of Drama

  3. 21/08 21:28

    Visit Greece: Swim in Ionian Sea’s crystal clear waters of Thesprotia beaches

  4. 21/08 18:20

    Greek diver campaigns to protect seahorse colony in Chalkidiki

  5. 21/08 17:58

    American Airlines to launch new daily direct Chicago-Athens connection in summer 2019

  6. 21/08 15:08

    Renewable resort: Greek island of Tilos to run on wind and solar power

  7. 21/08 15:08

    Events in museums and ancient sites at Cyclades for August full moon

  8. 21/08 13:00

    Travel report: The relaxing experience of the Greek island of Kefalonia

  9. 21/08 10:44

    “Wish Tree” on Greek island of Antipaxos becomes tourist attraction

  10. 20/08 21:13

    Hala Sultan Mosque in Larnaca not accessible to visitors on 28 August 2018

  11. 20/08 17:28

    Greek island of Chios Mastiha Shop arrives in Qatar

  12. 20/08 15:54

    Magical time-lapse of Perseid meteor shower

  13. 20/08 15:06

    Greek Culture Minister calls for new talks on Parthenon Marbles return

  14. 20/08 14:41

    Report: Why Porto Heli in Greece attracts the rich every summer

  15. 20/08 14:40

    Moscovici: Conclusion of ESM programme by Greece marks historic moment

  16. 20/08 13:32

    Coca-Cola launches new bottle inspired by Minoan civilization of Crete

  17. 20/08 12:27

    16th European Gastronomy & Wine Congress in Athens on October 19-21

  18. 20/08 11:22

    Trips of Cyprus' residents abroad grow by 9.8% in July

  19. 20/08 10:13

    Picturesque Leipsi island off Patmos becomes popular wedding destination

  20. 18/08 20:30

    “Take a picture, not a pebble” campaign to save Lalaria beach on Skiathos island

  21. 18/08 20:26

    CTO: July 2017 – July 2018 best 12 months in history of tourism in Cyprus

  22. 18/08 18:22

    TUI, Fraport, HATTA report positive figures for Greek tourism in 2018

  23. 18/08 17:17

    Greek lighthouses open to the public on Sunday for ILLW weekend 2018

  24. 18/08 16:11

    More than half a million tourists in Cyprus in July 2018

  25. 18/08 15:04

    Greek island of Corfu making strides toward wheelchair-friendly beaches

  26. 18/08 14:00

    E-platform for short-term rentals in Greece ready by end-August: Tax official

  27. 18/08 12:55

    Cyprus monuments and ancient sites open to public on the evening of August 26

  28. 18/08 11:46

    Greek Culture Minister: Film permits for ancient sites to speed up under upcoming law

  29. 18/08 11:36

    Monica Belucci enjoys summer vacation on Greek islands of Mykonos and Paros

  30. 16/08 18:06

    AP: Endangered green and loggerhead turtles make comeback in Cyprus

  31. 16/08 17:58

    New York Euripides Summer Festival presented production of "Suppliants"

  32. 16/08 17:52

    New Study: Santorini island volcano erupted after 1600 BC

  33. 16/08 16:24

    Important finds in Amarynthos of Evia In Greece confirm sanctuary belonged to Artemis

  34. 16/08 14:55

    Shipping Ministry triples outlay for port improvements across Greece

  35. 16/08 14:24

    Religious Tourism: How Greece celebrates Dormition of Virgin Mary

  36. 16/08 11:57

    Ancient Pafos Acropolis explored by Cyprus University excavations at citadel in site of Kouklia

  37. 16/08 10:51

    Greek budget records primary surplus of €2.087 billion in January-July

  38. 14/08 20:50

    Beijing municipality delegation to visit Greek port of Patras

  39. 14/08 19:44

    Religious Tourism: Panagia Fidiotissa church in Greek island of Kefalonia

  40. 14/08 17:59

    Travel report: Avoid the crowds on these tranquil Greek islands

  41. 14/08 17:16

    ‘Russian Onassis’ Dmitry Rybolovlev enjoys dinner on Mykonos island (video)

  42. 14/08 17:15

    Greek PM: e-ticket for ancient sites and museums a key change for culture

  43. 14/08 16:08

    Employment flow performance improves in Greece between January-July thanks to tourism

  44. 14/08 15:08

    Freight carriers eye domestic rail network in Greece

  45. 14/08 14:02

    TUI to bring 2.8 million tourists to Greece this year

  46. 14/08 13:59

    New companies in Greece can set up in as little as 18 minutes

  47. 14/08 12:55

    Virtuoso: Greece among top-7 luxury destinations of American tourists in 2018

  48. 13/08 21:52

    More than 300 flights to and from Cyprus' airports on 19th August

  49. 13/08 21:37

    Corfu: 1st International Conference of Diaspora Greeks with Ionian descent

  50. 13/08 21:23

    Perseid meteor shower illuminates skies over Greece

  51. 13/08 20:11

    Greek tennis star Tsitsipas rises to No 15 in world ranking

  52. 13/08 18:57

    Greek tax authorities launch “Receipt, Please” campaign for tourists

  53. 13/08 16:30

    Religious Tourism: Holy Monastery of Panagia Kera in Greek island of Crete

  54. 13/08 14:21

    The 10 countries in the world with the smallest population

  55. 13/08 12:16

    Archaeologists discover sunken Ancient Greek ship in Black Sea

  56. 13/08 10:11

    Real Estate: Building activity rises up 17.6% across Greece in May

  57. 12/08 21:05

    Canada’s biggest Street Festival in Greektown over weekend

  58. 12/08 20:58

    Gambling Tourism: Mont Parnes and Hyatt Regency post improved results in H1 2018

  59. 12/08 20:45

    Greek national film office network in public investment program

  60. 12/08 19:05

    Greek summer season peaks ahead of August 15th celebration

  61. 12/08 15:51

    8th Greek Student Film Festival in Australia seeking new entries

  62. 12/08 11:37

    Turkish lira drops further as President Trump announces United States tariffs

  63. 10/08 22:20

    European Central Bank will revoke waiver for Greek banks

  64. 10/08 22:15

    Pythagoreion Theater on Greek island of Samos hosts Young Artists Festival

  65. 10/08 21:58

    Higher turnover and passenger numbers for Fraport Greece in H1 2018

  66. 10/08 20:03

    Global passenger arrivals in Greek airports up strongly in first seven months of 2018

  67. 10/08 18:35

    Mysterious objects that have intrigued archaeologists for centuries (video)

  68. 10/08 18:24

    Greek exports rise by impressive 24.8% reaching 3 billion euros

  69. 10/08 18:10

    New York Times: Lesser known Greek white wines to savor

  70. 10/08 14:17

    Infographic: Which countries give the most paid vacations in the world

  71. 10/08 12:08

    Thessaloniki firm adds real gold to Greek Olive Oil (video)

  72. 10/08 10:55

    Precious 2,200 year-old gold earring from Hellenistic era discovered in Israel

  73. 09/08 19:44

    Pebble mosaic dating to 4th century BC discovered in Greek city of Arta

  74. 09/08 19:28

    Religious Tourism: Panagia Episkopi, the oldest church on Santorini island

  75. 09/08 18:57

    Greek scientist and researchers discover cause of Santorini volcano eruption

  76. 09/08 18:37

    Greek Epirus Village of Lia memorialized by Gage gets Art museum

  77. 09/08 17:04

    Turkey to extend Booking.com ban to Airbnb, Expedia, Skyscanner and more

  78. 09/08 16:37

    Concert for Manos Eleftheriou on August 29 to benefit wildfire victims

  79. 09/08 13:19

    Greek ferry company Minoan Lines drops plastic straws

  80. 09/08 12:08

    Gateway to Greek Olive Oil celebrates 2nd anniversary

  81. 09/08 11:47

    Report: Wild party for the rich and famous on Greek island of Mykonos

  82. 09/08 10:00

    TUI Group expects double-digit earnings growth also for 2018

  83. 08/08 20:26

    Russian tourist arrivals to Greece to grow by more than 5% this year

  84. 08/08 20:02

    Ryanair cancels 250 flights to/from Germany on August 10 due to strike

  85. 08/08 19:51

    Tax inspections on Mykonos lead to local businesses' shutdowns

  86. 08/08 19:07

    First private naval high school to open on Greek island of Chios in September

  87. 08/08 19:06

    US ambassador Geoffrey Pyatt tours and lauds Greek island of Hios

  88. 08/08 18:20

    Travel guide: Six top reasons to visit Greek city of Thessaloniki this summer

  89. 08/08 17:47

    Creative workshops for children at Athens and Epidaurus festival

  90. 08/08 17:11

    #Greece is the most popular hashtag on Instagram

  91. 08/08 16:05

    Religious Tourism: Miraculous Monastery of Panagia Malevi in Peloponnese, Greece

  92. 08/08 15:21

    New flight to link Greek island of Lesvos with Turkish port of Izmir

  93. 08/08 14:48

    Two Greek museums compete for Europe’s Best in Short Film Awards (video)

  94. 08/08 12:42

    Emirates Airlines marks 10th anniversary of A380 operations

  95. 08/08 10:25

    Report: The top-5 aphrodisiac foods preferred by Ancient Greeks

  96. 07/08 22:43

    Canvas Holidays: Nissi Beach In Cyprus among world’s best beaches

  97. 07/08 22:35

    Cretans share funny trailer to entice tourists to run in Half Marathon 2018 (video)

  98. 07/08 21:59

    Real estate companies invest in Greek tourism property market

  99. 07/08 21:11

    Russian Embassy in Athens: Greece among top choices for Russian tourists

  100. 07/08 20:36

    Greek tax inspectors move on to Paros, Santorini and Rhodes after Mykonos