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Key archaeological sites in the Maroni area continued

After the Bronze Age

For reasons which are much debated among scholars, the vast majority of Late Cypriot sites produce no evidence for occupation after the end of the LC IIC period, including those around Maroni, all of which appear to have been abandoned around 1200 BC. A severe economic and political crisis, which afflicted the entire eastern Mediterranean at this time, is widely believed to have caused the collapse of the LC urban system, though this does not explain the massive drop in visible population numbers.

Settlements remained stable in some parts of the island, such as at Palaepaphos, Kition and Salamis (near Enkomi), and had reappeared in other areas of the island, particularly around Kourion, by the 11th century. The Maroni area, by contrast, together with the adjacent Vasilikos valley, has produced virtually no evidence for human activity after the end of the LBA until the 8th century BC.[10]

Around this time the no doubt still impressive ruins of the Ashlar Building at Vournes were converted into a sanctuary dedicated to a male and female divinity presiding over the natural world and fertility. Although few settlement remains of this period have been identified, it is likely that this cult place acted as a focus for the dispersed rural community, perhaps functioning as a way station for travellers along the coastal route between the city-kingdoms of Kition and Amathus. The sanctuary continued in use until the Hellenistic period, according to the surviving votive offerings and associated ceramic finds.[11]

Cypro-Archaic (CA) and Cypro-Classical (CC) remains have been found at a number of other locations in the area shown on the accompanying map. Maroni village, Tsaroukkas, Viklari, Vouni and Yialos. By contrast, Hellenistic and early Roman remains are rare, though it is unclear if this represents an actual drop in the population of the area. The single Roman-period item from the Maroni area in the British Museum collection, a glass drinking cup bearing the name of the maker, Meges, would almost certainly have come from a cemetery. Later Roman remains, however, are more widely distributed around the Maroni area and offshore, where a cache of anchors was found by the members of the MVASP, who also excavated an important church and associated settlement remains at Petrera in the 1990s.[12]

A similar pattern of reoccupation can be seen to the west in the Vasilikos valley and its environs. Extensive research and rescue exploration here has shown that the region began to be exploited in a much more archaeologically-visible manner from the CA I period.[13]  This is particularly evident around the village of Mari, where numerous burials of this period have been found over the years, though few tombs have been published in detail. A relatively rich tomb containing numerous pottery and metal items dating to the 8th or 7th centuries BC, including an impressive iron sword with silver studs possibly indicating the role or status of one of the deceased, was found within the boundaries of Mari village in 1991.[14]  This provides an example of the sort of tombs in which the items from Mari sold to the British Museum by Charles Christian in the 19th century would have been found (see below, Guide to the Collection). The tomb consisted of a rock-cut chamber 3.2m x 3.8m and 1.6m high approached by a small entrance pit. The dead, probably members of a family group, were placed on benches around the edges of the chambers.

A rural sanctuary with votive offerings similar to those found at Vournes was established during the CA I period at Vavla-Kapsales high in the foothills of the Troodhos mountains.[15]  Judging from the date of the stone and terracotta votive offerings, the sacred space or temenos, which measured around 100m by 150m, appears to have been used down to the end of the CC period. Pottery evidence suggests continued human activity in Roman times, though not necessarily of a cultic nature. The Roman and Late Roman periods are very visible in the archaeological record, with noticeable activity near the copper mining sources north of Kalavasos village, where several large slag heaps of this date are still visible.[16]

  • ^ [10] - Manning 2002b, 3.
  • ^ [11] - Ulbrich 2008, 169, 282 (AM 18).
  • ^ [12] - Manning 2002b, 3.
  • ^ [13] - Todd 2004, esp. 118–25.
  • ^ [14] - Hadjicosti 1997; Todd 2004, 124–5 (site no. 92).
  • ^ [15] - Morden and Todd 1994; Todd 2004; Ulbrich 2008, 281–2 (AM 17).
  • ^ [16] - Todd 2004, 1 and passim.