Pyla-Koustopetria and Rome

Scott Moore is in Rome at the XVIIth International Congress of Classical Archaeology.  The theme of the conference this year is “Meetings Between Two Culture in the Ancient Mediterranean”.  The Pyla-Koutsopetria Archaeological Project is giving paper entitled “Trade and Exchange in the Eastern Mediterranean: A Model from Cyprus”
in a session on exchange in the Eastern Mediterranean. 

We’ll make the entire paper available on our web site once Scott returns, but for now, I will provide a teaser.  The most significant new analysis to appear in this paper is Scott’s study of the Late Roman amphoras. Amphoras are transport vessels commonly used throughout antiquity to store and ship olive oil, wine, and some dry cargos.  As the following excerpt will explain, the most common form from Pyla-Koutsopetria (and on Cyprus in general) are classified as Late Roman 1 based on their shape.   

“Amphorae from all periods make up approximately 15% of our total quantity of pottery from Pyla-Koutsopetria with Late Roman amphorae accounting for 62% of all ancient amphorae.  LR1 Amphora was the largest category of Late Roman amphora, representing 30% of PKAP’s total amphorae from the Late Roman period and 80% of the identifiable amphora types. Late Roman 1 Amphora was, of course, one of the most widely traded amphorae of the 4th – 7th centuries AD in the eastern Mediterranean and is associated with olive oil and wine production. A number of production sites for this vessel type in the 6th and 7th centuries have been located along the southern coast of Cyprus (Zygi, Paphos and perhaps Amathous) and on the Cilician coast. We have identified 7 subclasses of LR1 Amphora Types based on fabric differences. Such variety in LR1 amphora fabric is not unusual on Cyprus—there were 4 main subclasses at Kopetra, for example—but does indicate variety in production sites and suggests that trade on the island was not merely a matter of access to materials, but was selective, in fact.

Density of Amphoras at Pyla-Koutsopetria

   A closer examination of the LR1 amphorae shows that at Koutsopetria, 25% of the LR1 amphora have a fabric type that has been suggested was produced in Cilicia and Syria. The largest number of LR1 amphora at Koutsopetria (58%) have a fabric whose origin is believed to have been south central Cyprus. This LR1 fabric, often identified as Rautman LR1(1), is also the most frequently found LR1 sherd at Panayia Ematousa and Maroni.  Despite the relatively high number of Cypriot produced LR1 amphora at our site, it is interesting to note that none of the brick red LRI amphora produced at Kourion were found at Koutsopetria. At Kopetra, however, this ratio is reversed with over 42% of the LR1 amphora being from Cilicia and Syria, and approximately 13% being from south central Cyprus.  The greater proportion of locally produced LR1 fabrics at Maroni and Koutsopetria might reflect their function as ports for exporting locally produced agricultural produce rather than major hubs for importing wine and olive oil from abroad in foreign made amphoras.

Distribution of LR1 Amphoras at Pyla-Koutsopetria

    Comparing PKAP’s Late Roman amphora collection with other nearby sites suggests both significant similarities and differences. In terms of similarities, LR1 Amphora sherds represent the dominant class of LR amphoras at the small villages of Maroni and Kopetra, located some 50 km west of Kition. At Maronia, LR1 accounted for 21% of Late Roman amphora by weight, while at Kopetra, LR1 Amphoras made up 2/3 of all amphora sherds.  Both sites, however, produce much greater diversity of amphora types than Koutsopetria.  Kopetra, for example, produced 13 identifiable amphora types compared to the 5 types identified at Koutsopetria.  In fact, Koutsopetria shows greater similarity to the village of Panayia Ematousa, another site in the immediate hinterland of Kition — some 6.5 km north and inland of the city.  Panayia Ematousa, like Koutsopetria, lacks Late Roman 4 amphora, the most common imported amphora at both Maroni and Kopetra. The differences in proportions between Maroni and Kopetra, on the one hand, and Koutsopetria and Panayia Ematousa on the other, reinforces the hypothesis that Koutsopetria was more heavily engaged in exporting than importing. 

    It is clear that Koutsopetria imported LR amphora from only a few locations in the Eastern Mediterranean, primarily Cilicia and Syria and that its importation of amphora from other regions was limited or non-existent. Only 1 example of a Palestinian bag amphora (Peacock and Williams Class 46) was found at PKAP, and while the numbers are low for other Cypriot sites (Maroni <1% and Kopetra <3%) this is surprising considering the close proximity of the Levantine coast to the southern Cypriot coast. A similar situation holds true for amphorae imported from Africa with only 1 North African amphora with being found at PKAP, and no Egyptian amphorae. Also uncommon are LR2 amphorae produced in the Aegean and Black Sea region. Low numbers were reported at all nearby sites: Kopetra (1.9%), Pyla-Koutsopetria, Panayia Ematousa, and Maroni < 1%. These relatively low percentages of amphora imports, especially LR4 which is common at other sites, suggests that Koutsopetria is participating selectively in the trade along the southern Cypriot coast and that factors other than availability are determining Koutsopetria’s involvement.”

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