NICOSIA ----The Department of Antiquities, announced Wednesday the completion of the first season of a new long term archaeological investigation at the site of Kourion, in the Limassol district, titled “Kourion Urban Space Project”’ (KUSP). The project revealed an early Byzantine cityscape that was first occupied after the 4th century earthquakes in an area of exposed bedrock during the Roman period.
The project research area lies southeast of the basilica and southwest of the “Earthquake House,” along the edge of the site. The KUSP team discovered evidence of three separate mosaic floors eroding along the Cliffside.
At the request of the Department of Antiquities, the KUSP team partially excavated and prepared for conservation, two separate mosaic floors and one fragment of a floor.
The mosaics had been exposed to winter rains and were very vulnerable to further erosion. The fragmentary floor, composed of white tesserae, measured approximately 50 x 50 cm and was associated with a cistern.
Immediately north of this fragment an apparently intact mosaic floor measuring at least 5 x 3 m. was exposed. The floor is composed of stone tesserae with at least three different colors; it is possible that it will include a figural mosaic, but the remainder of the floor awaits excavation in future seasons.
A third mosaic fragment was identified approximately 3 meters lower along the Cliffside, which is decorated with a geometric pattern of lozenges and swastikas.
The KUSP excavations also uncovered a large water installation measuring 9.6 x 1.7 m which is estimated to be at least 82 cm deep. This was also on the edge of the cliff and only its foundations survive.
The foundational material suggests a date between 450 and 525 AD for its construction. The basin was modified at least twice during its use-life and appears to have been abandoned but not destroyed.
The Kourion Urban Space Project revealed an early Byzantine cityscape that was first occupied after the 4th century earthquakes in an area of exposed bedrock during the Roman period. The Byzantine inhabitants used the terrain, creating level spaces to access new water resources (cisterns) which would have been needed following the destruction of the main urban aqueduct in the earthquake of 365 AD.
The area also included at least one elite structure along the Cliffside, well placed (or located) to catch the sea breezes. This structure, evidenced by the mosaic floors, may have been an urban villa contemporary with the House of Eustolius.
Further excavations will determine the date and nature of these elite structures.
The project was directed by Dr. Thomas W. Davis of the Tandy Institute for Archaeology at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth, Texas.
Dr. Davis was formerly the Director of the Cyprus American Archaeological Research Institute in Nicosia from 2003-2011.
The KUSP consortium includes the Australian Institute of Archaeology and the University of Cyprus.
The team will build on previous work at the site including the recent Kourion Mapping Project (KMP) in order to gain a better understanding of the urban space of Kourion and by extension of late Roman Cyprus.