What is PKAP?

One of the great challenges of writing a blog is including enough of the back story at various times to keep new readers informed on what this blog is really all about.

This blog, as you will be able to quickly recognize, focuses on Mediterranean archaeology with a North Dakota twist.  The PKAP category of posts specifically seeks to chronicle the work of a small team of scholars and students at the site of Pyla-Koutsopetria in Cyprus.

This project was started by R. Scott Moore and quickly expanded to include David K. Pettegrew and myself.  The site lies some 10 km east of the center of Larnaka on the south coast of the Cyprus.  It is the coastal zone of the village of Pyla which is perhaps most because of its location in the U.N. Buffer Zone on the island (or as the home town of Anna Vissi).  Our site is in the Republic of Cyprus some 2 km south of the village.

Our primary research goal is the document the dense scatter of artifacts present at the site which stretches from the coast to the imposing height of Vigla pictured above.  We are a collaborative project with the Cyprus Department of Antiquities, and we work closely with the Curator of the Nicosia Museum – Dr. Maria Hadjicosti – who conducted several small salvage excavations at the site in the 1990s. These salvage excavations uncovered the remains of the well-appointed Early Christian (or Late Roman) basilica apparently dating to the 6th century A.D. 

We have been analyzing the nearly 10,000 artifacts sampled from the surface of the site since 2004 and attempting to place this “assemblage” of material in a broader context.  In collecting these artifacts, we employed a technique called intensive pedestrian survey which is really just a fancy word for the systematic walking of the landscape.  This allowed us to document the distribution of artifacts across the site in a relatively precise way . 

We are particularly interested in the place of Pyla-Koutsopetria in larger trade networks spanning both the island, but perhaps more importantly the entire Mediterranean.  As most of the artifacts are Late Roman in date (4th-7th century A.D.) we can focus on the place of the site in the Late Roman world.  What is most interesting to us at present is that our site is much larger than we expected.  It is clearly larger than a agricultural village (<20 ha), but smaller than a formal Late Roman city (<80 ha).  So we have cleverly classified Pyla-Koutsopetria to be a “mid-sized site”. 

Over the next month, I’ll introduce various aspects and people from the project and they will share their research and perspectives in this space.  It should give you, the reader, unprecedented access to inner workings of an archaeological project as it moves from fieldwork to its goal of publication.

Thanks for reading!

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