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Turner Bequest excavations (Kourion): Site B

This much larger area was located immediately west of Site A, separated from it by a small river, near the small ancient chapel of Ayios Ermoyenis, after which the cemetery is usually known. The burial ground, part of which had already been explored by Cesnola, extended over a large area from the foot of the acropolis down to the original shoreline. The site was returned to repeatedly over the course of the 1895 season: 29 tombs in total were described in the notebooks (Tombs 7–14; 20–27; 71–83); others seem to have been passed over as empty or unimportant, as indicated by the many unnumbered squares drawn on the plan.

On the whole, the progress of the work was haphazard, to judge by the location of the numbered tombs: while in some cases Walters seems to have followed the edges of the fields in a linear direction, the frequent changes of direction (or area) suggests a rather unsystematic approach. The large quantity of imported Greek and Phoenician material in Site B was of particular interest to the Classically minded Walters. As in Site A, much of the local material found in the same tombs, especially pottery, was discarded as insufficiently interesting to keep or even record (as is likely in the case of Tomb 73, see below).

The University of Pennsylvania Museum expedition excavated ten late Cypro-Classical (CC), Hellenistic and Roman tombs in 1940 and 1941, in addition to recording numerous other funerary features such as monolithic sarcophagi and grave monuments near the entrances to tombs, though only one tomb was published in detail . More recent work by the Department of Antiquities and the late Danielle Parks of Brock University have explored the remains of this extensive burial ground in the area closer to the acropolis, at the so-called Amathus Gate cemetery, where Tomb 14 of the British Museum excavations was located. These include the remains of chamber tombs of Hellenistic to Roman date, badly damaged by later quarrying to build the city wall, together with simpler rock-cut cists representing the reuse of the area for burial in Late Antiquity.[1]

Rescue excavations by the Department of Antiquities since the 1960s and 1990s have revealed tombs of similar date in this area, but also (in 1989) a monumental tomb constructed in fine ashlar masonry. It is the only tomb of this type discovered at Kourion to date, though it is likely that there were others, which have not yet been found, as they are common in a number of major kingdom-centres (and other important sites) throughout the island in the CA and CC periods. The surviving material suggests a CA II to CC I date for the use of the tomb: significantly, some of the jewellery closely matches several items from the ‘Curium Treasure’, suggesting that this was one of the tombs opened by Cesnola or his agents in 1875.[2]

Introductions to the sites

Guide to the tombs at Site B

  • ^ [1] - Preliminary reports in the Report of the Department of Antiquities, Cyprus from 1996 to 2001 with a survey of earlier work here in the 1996 volume, 127–8. Website of project: http://php.indiana.edu/~cparks/web/home.html; Given forthcoming.
  • ^ [2] - Christou 1996, 168–70 for a survey of recent work and 170–82 for a description of the built tomb; also ibid. 2000 and in Annual Report of the Department of Antiquities 1989, 55 and 1990, 52–3; Buitron-Oliver 1987, 29.