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Excavations at Arpera chiftlik

The ancient cemeteries around Arpera chiftlik, the likely source of several Red Polished vessels included in this catalogue, was described by Crowfoot in some detail in a letter to Murray on 28 April 1898. The clandestine nature of the excavations there ensured that no record was kept, and the site was not systematically explored until the early years of the First World War, when it was excavated by the Curator of the Cyprus Museum (see below). The letter is valuable because, as Crowfoot notes, even in its plundered state the surface indications provided some hint as to the chronology of the site through the different types of pottery.

[Note: The first part of the letter deals with a gold diadem, which had been offered for sale to the Museum, through Claude Cobham.]

Mr Cobham is sending two very fine specimens of early incised ware. I rode out yesterday to examine the site from which they came. There is a village named Arpera about half an hour beyond the Tekyé monastery, which contains two churches and between them I found traces of most extensive recent excavations. Three burial grounds have been exposed. One lies exactly between the two churches: fifty or sixty tombs have been opened, and I found lying about on the surface fragments of every style of painted and unpainted pottery which we have found at the Tekyé, and one or two fragments of the early unglazed white ware with black geometrical decorations and string-holes: but I found I found more of the early unpainted ware.

On higher ground west of this I found the second excavation: here only a few tombs had been opened and there were very few fragments of early unpainted ware.

The third site lay due east of the upper church and about 200 yards south of the first site. I saw fragments of plain red polished ware, also of red ware with reliefs and with impressed ornament, and also of red ware with incised lines and white fillings. But though over sixty tombs (or about that number) seemed to have been opened – and that during the last week or two – I did not find a single fragment of painted vase of any kind. This sharp division seemed to be sufficiently interesting to communicate to you, especially in view of the fineness of the pots which have come from the site.