By: Lydia Dwyer, 2013 Platt Fellowship Recipient
The ancient city-state of Idalion was once one of the largest copper-producing cities on Cyprus. The volcanic hills of the island hide copper-rich pillow lavas that Idalionites would mine, process, and then export to one of the port cities. Dr. Pamela Gaber has operated the site since 1987, though many people have excavated Idalion before her. I came to Cyprus as a student for the 2012 season, and Dr. Gaber invited me back as a supervisor for the 2013 season. The opportunity to be a supervisor was something I could not pass up, especially with the wonderful gift of the Platt Fellowship. Not only would I be able to teach others, but also I would learn so many things I never learned my student year. I packed my bags and arrived in Cyprus July 10th.
The 2013 season is focused on an area of Idalion called the Lower City South, a temenos compound dedicated to the Goddess and God of Cyprus. The period of the area ranges from 1200 B.C.E. to 100 C.E. I took over EΞ17(EX17) which started as a 1×5 meter probe and I have slowly expanded it to a 2.5×5 meter after potential wall features. Of course, as I expanded there were even more potential wall features. Our finds in the probe include hundreds of bits of bone and teeth, excessive amounts of cook pot and coarseware sherds, and pieces of Roman glass that all potentially belong to one vessel. Several squares adjacent to ours have found similar artifacts, and one square found an in situ broken cook pot. Our collective finds lead to the hypothesis that Idalionites used this are of the temenos for cooking and food processing activities. The pottery read from my square, and squares adjacent, dates to the Hellenistic period. This food processing area is exciting in a temenos where previously no cooking areas had been found.
In addition to finding fascinating artifacts and architecture, I had wonderful students. Over the course of the excavation, I taught four students, all bright young women eager to learn. I taught them the basics of excavation: dig level. I also taught them how to do the paperwork and reports so that they could also become supervisors next year if they came back. I learned and relearned many things too, like how to do a Harris Matrix and the art of baulk drawing quickly. There are so many things I did not realize my supervisor did for me my student year, and I soon realized that the job of supervisor was at least a 10-hour workday.
On Fridays, Dr. Gaber takes everyone on the dig around the island to see the history of Cyprus and go to the beach. Among the amazing cities and settlements we have seen are Amathus and Kourion. Amathus and Kourion were major ports on Cyprus that were extremely wealthy 2000 years ago. At the top of Amathus is the Aphrodite temple, with giant stone water basins and a sacred grotto. Kourion has a large amphitheater on which my friends and I tested the acoustics. When sitting in the stands, I could hear my friend Chelsea talking at normal voice when she stood at the center of the stage. Kourion also has some of the most beautiful and unique mosaics on the island.
Cyprus is an amazing country, and Idalion a fascinating city. There are many more fascinating finds from the Idalion 2013 season, and they will be revealed at the ASOR 2013 Annual Meeting talk.
Without the generosity of ASOR and their donors to the Platt Fellowship, I never would have had the opportunity to make such exciting discoveries in Cyprus and teach wonderful students. To all those who donated to the Platt Fellowship for the 2013 season, thank you.
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