| 7 September 2008
Cypriot plateau could be an ancient gateway
For over a millennium, a fortified settlement with a shrine stood on a plateau near the eastern Larnaca coast (Cyprus) ringed with a defensive wall, archaeologists believe. Earlier theories about the significance of the site were confirmed during this year's fieldwork at the Pyla-Koutsopetria locality by the identification of a section of the wall, datable to the Late Bronze Age.
According to Maria Hadjicosti of the Department of Antiquities, it could have been the original gateway – pyle in Greek - to a larger habitation, which later moved further inland for fear of sea raids to where the present mixed village of Pyla is situated. The settlement, located on a hill known as Kokkinokremmos/ Vigla – Red Cliff/Lookout Post, is estimated to have been inhabited from the Cypro-Archaic period in the 13th-14th century BCE to Hellenistic and Roman times. The site is situated inland, roughly opposite the eucalyptus-lined coast leading to the British base of Dhekelia. The most dramatic feature of the settlement was a fortification wall that ringed the entire plateau, an official press release said.
The Pyla-Koutsopetria Archaeological Project's two goals are the publication of the finds excavated from a small area of the site by Hadjicosti during two previous campaigns in the 1990s and a survey of archaeological features across the entire site of 1,500,000 sq m. The presence of numerous figurines discovered in recent survey work suggests a previously unknown shrine on the coastal plateau. The site had come to light when a local farmer undertook extensive cultivation in the area.
Explaining further the possible connection between Vigla and Pyla, Hadjicosti recalled the important archaeological discoveries in the latter village, including that of a built tomb of the classical period with a gold trove in the late 1940s. The finds, including the famous Medusa with sphinxes, are housed in the British Museum, while a reproduction of the grave can be seen in the Cyprus Museum. A 14th century BCE cemetery was also discovered in the area, as well as a temple with limestone statues.
Source: The Cyprus Weekly (6 September 2008)
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