PKAP Site Visits

One week before I leave for Cyprus and I am beginning to prepare for the upcoming season in earnest now.  In particular, I’ve been preparing material for our site visits with students.

Site visits are an integral part of our season at the Pyla-Koutsopetria Archaeological Project.  Visiting a while range of archaeological sites — from prehistoric to modern — helps familiarize the students with the impressive array of archaeological material present on the island and often begins the process of creating a body of comparanda (objects of comparison) for helping us to understand our site.  We also work with the students on how to “read” an archaeological site and encourage them to formulate and address questions that put the site into a historical, archaeological, and environmental context.  This can be a bit tricky, of course, as the student volunteers on PKAP range from relatively experienced archaeologists to almost totally inexperienced undergraduates.  So, we attempt to frame our site visits in a way that will appeal to the entire range of students.  (You can see more about our site visits in the Emerging Cypriot short entitled “Sightseeing“)

This year in order to focus our discussion of the various sites that we will visit, we’re including three “site visit questions” on our handouts.  I’ve been working on them this week and include a sampling here (type-os and all!):

Paphos Site Visit Questions

1) Mosaic floors are an important, if complex, source for the cultural history of the Eastern Mediterranean. What do these floors tell us about the people who lived and visited these fancy buildings?

2) Scholars have long sought to understand the use of rooms in houses as a key to understanding social organization. In Paphos, you can see several relatively well-preserved examples of Roman and Late Roman domestic space. What conclusions can you draw regarding the function of houses in the Roman and Late Roman period? What arguments can you make regarding the function of particular rooms in these houses?

3) The site of Paphos was an important place on the island of Cyprus for over 1000 years. What made this site so important? What advantages did it have compared to other sites on the island? In what ways was it similar to other Hellenistic and Roman sites on Cyprus?

Ay. Neophytos Site Visit Questions:

1) Examine the various phases of wall painting in the Enkleistra. What are the basic differences between earlier and later wall painting?

2) What are the major themes in Byzantine and Post-Byzantine wall painting? What is the significance of these themes in their architectural context? Can you recognize any pattern? What is the goal of Byzantine wall painting?

2) The Enkleistra represents an extreme in the practices of Byzantine monasticism. What does such an extreme say about the values of this strain of Byzantine Christianity? Ay. Neophytos became a popular figure even during his lifetime. What does it say about the values 12th and 13th century society in Cyprus society more broadly?

Ay. Georgios Site Visit Questions

1) The excavated churches at Ay. Georgios are the most impressive remains from the site. What can these buildings tell us about the other, unexcavated, components of the settlement at this site?

2) Unlike many larger sites where the urban centers have been excavated, only a small part of the remains have been excavated at Ay. Georgios. Looking at the remains present around the large Basilica A, what are the potential functions of these spaces? How do they relate both spatially and functionally to the Basilica?

3) Compare the topography and remains at Ay. Georgios to the site at Pyla-Koutsopetria. How are these sites similar? How are they different?

Kourion Site Visit Questions

1) At Kourion you can get a clear sense of the urban area of a Roman site and at least some idea of how it developed over time. What kinds of buildings clustered around the main forum? What do these buildings have in common and what does it say about the site through antiquity?

2) As a coastal site it has certain similarities to other coastal sites that we have (and will) visit including (albeit distantly) Pyla-Koutsopetria. What the similarities and differences between the site of Kourion and others that we know? How does this make it unique? Can we generalize about coastal sites on Cyprus?

3) The House of the Gladiators and the House of Eustolios represent another pair of Roman houses on Cyprus. Like at Paphos, these houses can tell us some thing about both their owners and what Roman Cypriots regarded as important. Produce an informal list of the things common to these houses. How are they different from the way modern Americans decorate their homes?

Amathus Site Visit Questions

1) Like Kourion, Amathus features a well-preserved paved forum/agora area surrounded by public structures. Judging from the preserved remains at the site, what features are the most commonly encountered in the public space of the city?

2) The sanctuary on the acropolis is one of the rare sites on Cyprus where the pagan and Christian sanctuaries are directly superimposed upon one another. How did the Early Christian basilica incorporate or erase the earlier sanctuary? What does this tell us about Cypriot Christianity at Amathus and specifically on the acropolis there?

3) The site of Amathus was situated to take advantage of several natural features. How did the residents of the site shape their environment to take the best advantage of the natural landscape and resources?

Angeloktiste Site Visit Questions

1) Walking around the outside of this church, how can you tell the different phases of construction? How many phases can you recognize? Can you assign them dates relative to one another – earliest to most recent?

2) The apse mosaic is particularly important in the history of Byzantine art. How is it similar to other mosaics that we have seen from a slightly earlier period (e.g. Paphos or Kourion)? How is it different?

3) The church at Kiti stands amidst a modern village. What does its existence say about this area in antiquity and after?

Zygi Site Visit Questions

1) The site of Zygi appears along an otherwise unexceptional stretch of Cypriot coastline. What environmental advantages does the site of Zygi have? Why would there be a coastal site here?

2) The nature of Zygi-Petrini as a “self-excavating sites” provides an profile view of an abandoned site and a window into the site’s stratigraphy. What can we say about the processes that created the site? Are their specific events that appear in the archaeological remains that are invisible in thoroughly excavated and cleaned sites?

3) The modern village of Zygi provides an intriguing point of comparison for the nearby ancient site. How does one go about comparing ancient and modern sites on Cyprus? What historical events must a scholar recognize in order to make valid or useful comparisons?

  1. Khristophoros
    May 21, 2008 at 10:52 pm

    Looks good, Professor Caraher; I look forward to the tour/discussions.
    When I was in Europe, it bugged me that I was nearly always touring by myself without anyone with whom to discuss the sites. The few times that I had a captive audience (e.g. at Carcassonne, Perigueux and Aix-en-Provence) I fear that I talked their ears off. These are some good, discussion-provoking questions, though. I’ll start warming up …

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