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Tomb groups and contexts

Tomb groups from F.B Welch's excavations

Fewer than one-third of the objects from the British Museum Klavdia excavations can be assigned tomb numbers, and the sequence of tombs itself is incomplete, even allowing for the fact that some groups were assigned to the Cyprus Museum. The absence of even the simple tomb lists that exist for Maroni and Hala Sultan Tekke makes even basic speculation about the origin of many items impossible. Furthermore, little can be said about the chronology of the burial ground, since no more than a handful of items can be attributed to any one. The largest group from any tomb is the seven recorded for Tomb A5. 

Some of the tomb numbers noted in the registers and other sources have an ‘A’ before the number, probably referring to the ‘Main Site’ where Welch found the majority of tombs, 33 in total. Numbers prefaced with ‘B’ presumably indicates one of the other areas where he looked for tombs, but this is not clearly shown on the sketch map provided in his report. For convenience, ‘A’ has been added to all tombs not obviously designated as from one of these subsidiary areas.

Despite the lack of contextual information, the objects illustrated in the Catalogue, together with those which can still be identified in the Cyprus Museum as coming from Klavdia, provide a useful cross-section of the range of material found in 1899. The following observations are provided simply to give a general framework for understanding the development of the cemetery (and associated settlement) from at least the later Middle Bronze Age down to around c. 1200 BC. Some of the tomb attributions cited by Malmgren are not found in the BM Register or Catalogue. While some of his attributions are based on association with items whose tomb number is firmly documented (e.g. some of the items in the intact tomb described in Welch’s report), the basis of most of the others is unclear and have been disregarded here.  

  • The four Red Polished III vessels, distributed among three or perhaps four tombs – A3, A21, A27, together with the unnumbered tomb in which CM A 316 was found – may represent the earliest use of the area for burial during MC I or MC II. These types however can occur as late as MC II–III and could well be contemporary with the other early material from the site, namely, vessels in Drab Polished (A8 and A23) and White Painted (A12, A15, A32/34) wares. A Red-on-Black ware jug assigned to the Cyprus Museum (CM A 959, unnumbered tomb) may also belong to MC I or MC II, but this type can also occur as late as MC III. 
  • On the other hand, the White Painted V (A31, together several from unnumbered tombs in the Cyprus Museum) and Black Slip III (A2, A28) wares cannot be earlier than MC III and may represent a subsequent phase of burials at the site. These items, together with a number of types which span MCIII and the beginning of LC I – namely, WP III–IV Pendant Line style (several vases in the CM from unnumbered tombs), the imported Tell Yahudiyeh ware juglet (A29), and the imported Hyksos-period scarab (uncertain tomb) – all belong to the same horizon as the earliest burials from Hala Sultan Tekke.
  • The remaining pottery, along with the more closely datable objects in other materials, brings us into the Late Cypriot period and fills the chronological sequence down to the very end of LC IIC. The presence of a later MC vessel alongside a Late Helladic IIIA2 flask in A12 may signal the reuse of an older tomb during the 14th century BC. Alternatively, the tomb was used continuously from the MC period, a phenomenon which is commonly attested in the Late Bronze Age. Welch in his report noted that 21 out of 33 of the tombs in the ‘Main Site’ contained Mycenaean pottery, suggesting a considerable amount of funerary activity during the 14th and 13th centuries BC . 
  • The only intact burial deposit discovered by Welch (Tomb A5) was evidently very rich to judge from his description. The chronological range of the objects which can be attributed unambiguously to this tomb suggests a date in the 14th or 13th centuries BC. The other tomb for which a description of any detail survives, identified as Tomb 32 by Malmgren on uncertain grounds, appears to have been of a similar date with some good quality Mycenaean Pictorial Style pottery.
  • Most of the material acquired from William Ready in 1898, in particular the Egyptian and North Syrian faiences and the Mycenaean Pictorial Style pottery, belongs to a similar LC IIB–C horizon. The quality of the objects further emphasises the prosperity of the settlement at this time. 
  • The latest closely dateable objects in the surviving corpus is the Pastoral Style krater which could belong as late as the beginning of LC IIIA. Many of the small finds, such as the ivory fragments and some of the utilitarian items such as the bronze spatula and the stone moulds, could also be comparatively late, but this cannot be determined in the absence of contextual information. It is usually assumed however that the settlement has been abandoned by around 1200 BC so logically this material should date no later than this time, though this has not yet been confirmed by controlled excavations.