Polish archaeologists working in Cyprus have located two large buildings of the agora (central square) of the ancient city of Nea Paphos, founded at the end of the fourth century BC.
Paphos is one of the most important archaeological sites in Cyprus. In the Greco-Roman period it was the capital of the island. Since 2011, research there is conducted by the Department of Classical Archaeology of the Jagiellonian University Institute of Archaeology, Krakow, under the supervision of Prof. Ewdoksia Papuci-Władyka, as part of the Paphos Agora Project.
Two large buildings
“Fragments of two large public buildings in the area of the city centre are our most important discoveries this year (2014). One of them is probably a temple, the other probably served as a warehouse. Both were very well built” said project director Prof. Papuci-Władyka.
Structures for religious practices and administrative buildings were contained within an agora, but this central area was also important for trading and public discussion. Agorae were designed on a set of rectangles, and often surrounded by porticos.
At the eastern entrance to the Nea Paphos agora, archaeologists studied the interior of an ancient well. The structure turned out to be an information treasure trove, as it was filled with fragments of broken vessels and other artefacts. Excavations were made difficult by groundwater at a depth of 6 metres, and the archaeologists had to use a pump provided by the local fire brigade.
“When the well was no longer in use, it served as the trash: it was mainly filled with broken vessels and kitchenware. Inside we also found fragments of statues and coins” described Prof. Papuci-Władyka.
Metal sling shot decorated with scorpions and lightning also fell into the well, and ceramic analysis shows that all the vessels found there date to the Hellenistic period – from the end of the second century BC to approx. half of the first century BC.
“This tells us what kind of dishes and vessels were used for eating and storing food. They include elegant tableware decorated with engobe and terra sigillata – pottery with red glossy surface slips. They testify to the wealth of the residents of Paphos” added Prof. Papuci-Władyka.
Specialists from AGH University of Science and Technology in Krakow conducted laser scanning of the archaeological excavations, and researchers from the Institute of Geography of J. Kochanowski University in Kielce conducted GPR prospection of the whole area of the agora. A drone was also used to photograph the site from the air.
Work at the site lasted from August to October 2014, and as many as 60 people were involved, including employees of the Jagiellonian University Institute of Archaeology, students and volunteers.
Information provided by PAP – Science and Scholarship in Poland