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History of excavations

Early visitors[1]

It is highly likely that the local population of the Maroni area discovered antiquities in the course of their daily lives, but it was only during the 19th century AD that the archaeological remains of the area were systematically explored and exploited. Scholars were drawn to the area in search of the site of ancient city of Marion, because of the names of the villages of Maroni and Mari. (Marion is now known to have been located in the vicinity of Polis-tis-Khrysokhou in the north-west of the island, so the similarity with the modern toponyms was purely fortuitous).

The earliest recorded excavations in the area appear to have been undertaken by the infamous amateur archaeologist Luigi Palma di Cesnola, some of whose enormous collection of antiquities are said to have come from the vicinity of the modern village.[2]  Many of the details in Cesnola’s publications are suspect and cannot be taken at face value, but it is likely that he became aware of the rich burial grounds later explored by the British Museum through his network of contacts. It has been suggested that the fine Mycenaean Pictorial Style krater with chariot scenes now in the Metropolitan Museum, New York – which Cesnola claimed to have found at Amathus – actually came from Maroni.[3]  One item in the British Museum, a Roman-period glass vessel bearing a Greek inscription (GR 1876,11-14.5), is said to have come from his excavations in this area.[4] 

The German archaeologist Max Ohnefalsch-Richter explored the area of Mari on behalf of Charles Newton of the British Museum in 1881. A few finds of Iron Age date are preserved in the Department of Greece and Rome (M. 2–M.3 in this Catalogue), but no records of this work have survived and nothing is known of the original findspot. It is possible that more of the items in the same sequence which lack a provenance came from this excavation but this cannot now be determined. 

Later, in 1885, Ohnefalsch-Richter opened several Early Cypriot–Middle Cypriot (EC–MC) tombs at Psematismenos village and Tsaroukkas, which were studied by the German scholar Dr F. Dümmler on behalf of the German Archaeological Institute in Athens.[5] Dümmler also noted the presence of fragments of Mycenaean pottery on the surface at Tsaroukkas, the  significance of which would be more fully recognised during the BM excavations of 1897 which explored the extensive Late Bronze Age cemetery.

A number of fine Late Bronze Age (LBA) objects acquired by the British Museum in the late 1880s and early 1890s came from around Maroni. Several of these were sold to the Museum by Charles Christian, a Limassol-based banker and businessman who excavated for commercial profit on Cyprus during the 1880s in addition to dealing in antiquities acquired through his local contacts. John Myres, a young student from the British School at Athens sent to the island to reorganise the Cyprus Museum, also collected some objects from Tsaroukkas in 1894 a few years before the arrival of the British Museum team. These items are now preserved in the Ashmolean Museum, Oxford.[6]

 

  • ^ [1] - See Johnson 1980, 7 for a summary (with references) of previous work to 1980; Cadogan 1992; Manning et al. 1998, 297–8.
  • ^ [2] - Cesnola 1877. 268.
  • ^ [3] - Vermeule and Karageorghis 1982, no. III.16
  • ^ [4] - Manning et al. 2002b.
  • ^ [5] - Myres and Ohnefalsch-Richter 1899, 9; Ohnefalsch-Richter 1893, 239 and pl. XCIV; tomb group shown on pl. CLXVIII,1; Dümmler 1886, 214.
  • ^ [6] - Johnson 1980, 35–6.