Home > Late Antiquity, Pyla-Koutsopetria Archaeological Project, Survey Archaeology > The Roman Site of Kokkinokremos on Cyprus

The Roman Site of Kokkinokremos on Cyprus

This past weekend, I began to process the survey data from the Pyla-Koutsopetria Archaeological Project.  The goal was to produce a provisional data set that would serve as the basis for our work this fall.  We want need to write our paper for the AIAC in Rome and we are working on an article on the Roman period at Koutsopetria to submit to the Journal of Roman Archaeology.  While I won’t steal the prehistorian’s fire and report on any of their results, I can’t resist offering a sneak peak (with complimentary off-the-cuff interpretation) of the Roman period material from the prehistoric site of Kokkinokremos.  Kokkinokremos is an important Late Bronze Age fortified site which overlooks the eastern part of our site.  In 2007 we conducted intensive survey on the site, ably supervised by Dimitri Nakassis and Michael Brown, and in 2008 Mara Horowitz and Scott Moore read the prehistoric and historic period pottery respectively from our survey.

While scholars had long known that some later material existed on the site, no one had taken the opportunity to consider this material carefully.  Our survey has been the first project to systematically document the post-prehistoric component of this site.  Our survey work on the nearby Koutsopetria plain, the adjacent coastal height of Vigla, and the various flat-topped ridges that run north from the coast in the area allows us to place the post-prehistoric material from Kokkinokremos in a broader context. 

While this is not the place for a systematic or definitive analysis, I will report that the site has produced a substantial assemblage of material from the Archaic period through Medieval times.  There is very little evidence for early Iron Age material so we can’t argue for any type of continuity between the Late Bronze Age remains and subsequent periods.  On the other hand, the evidence for Cypro-Archaic material and ceramics from every subsequent period indicates that the site of Kokkinokremos was re-occupied at around the same time as the rest of the Koutsopetria coastal region.

Low Altitude Photo of Kokkinokremos

The most exciting thing is that the site comes alive during the Roman period.  Early Roman finewares, particular Eastern Sigillata A, appear more commonly on Kokkinokremos than the Koutsopetria plain.  Along side these finewares is a nice scatter of kitchen wares and various medium coarse utility wares suggesting a domestic assemblage.  Roman material persists into the Late Roman period, but the finewares almost entirely disappear aside from a few pieces of Cypriot Red Slip, and the coarse wares become more common.  The lack of roof tile or other architectural material suggests that any activity on Kokkinokremos would have been at a smaller scale than the massive quantities of Late Roman rooftile produced by the more substantial architecture on the Koutsopetria plain.

Michael Brown has pointed out that the Bronze Age remains at the site of Kokkinokremos might have continued to be visible into the historical period.  Its hard to imagine that the wealth of building material present in the Bronze Age ruins would not have attracted the local inhabitants.  As this stretch of coastline came alive again in the Archaic-Classical period, Kokkinokremos might have been the site of small scale habitation, although our evidence for this is scant.  It is also reasonable to suspect that the inhabitants of the fortified site at nearby Vigla would have removed building material from Kokkinokremos for, say, the fortification wall at Vigla. 


The Roman period may have seen continued looting as well as some more intensive land use.  The increase in quantity of material from Rome to Late Roman period suggests an increase in intensity of activities at Kokkinokremos.  The finewares, kitchen wares and storage vessels make Roman habitation at the site possible, although other more ephemeral activities cannot be ruled out.   Surely some of the activities there are tied to bustling settlement of this period on the coastal plain of Koutsopetria.

Roman Pottery on Kokkinokremos overlaid on overall artifact densities

In her book, Archaeologies of the Greek Past, Susan Alcock has considered how the Romans may have looked at the Bronze Age remains on Crete.  She not only noted the differences in how the Hellenistic and Roman residents of Crete understood the prehistoric past there and adopted different commemorative practices in constructing their relationships to the ruins in the landscape.  We are still at a very preliminary stage of interpreting the post-prehistoric material from Kokkinokremos but the strategies employed by Alcock would certainly have some utility at our site.  The political, economic, and even “cultural” character of this region of Cyprus underwent significant changes between the Archaic period and Late Antiquity seeing Phoenician, Greek, and Roman influences.  The material at Kokkinokremos could well shed light on how these different regimes engaged the Bronze Age ruins that remains visible in their midst.

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