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Archaeological Investigations of the Extra-Urban and Urban Landscape in Eastern Mediterranean centres: A case-study at Palaepaphos (Cyprus)

Final Report Summary - ARIEL (Archaeological Investigations of the Extra-Urban and Urban Landscape in Eastern Mediterranean centres: A case-study at Palaepaphos (Cyprus))

The research programme ARIEL, acronym for “Archaeological Investigations of the Extra-Urban and Urban Landscape in eastern Mediterranean centres: A case-study at Palaepaphos, Cyprus”, was a four-year Marie Sklodowska Curie Career Integration Grant (May 2013- April 2017). The project was hosted at the Archaeological Research Unit (ARU) of the University of Cyprus (UCY). The research fellow of ARIEL was Dr Artemis Georgiou and the programme’s scientific co-ordinator was Professor Maria Iacovou.

The aim of ARIEL was the inter-disciplinary training and academic development of the beneficiary for the purpose of undertaking innovative research in the highly sensitive cultural-historical region of the eastern Mediterranean. Cyprus was defined as the programme’s geographical focus, with the hydrological region of Paphos (to the south-west of the island) as the main area where the project was implemented. To a large extent, this area corresponds to the territory of the ancient polity of Paphos, which flourished as an autonomous micro-state from around the mid-second millennium BCE to the end of the 4th century BCE. The project’s chronological focus was the Bronze Age (ca. 2400-1050 BCE), a decisive period that coincides with the rise of the island’s earliest political units, complex economy and large-scale maritime trading activities. ARIEL was based on the landscape analysis methodology and the preliminary accomplishments of the “Palaepaphos Urban Landscape Project” (PULP), initiated in 2006 by Professor Maria Iacovou and continuing to run as open-ended project.

The experienced researcher was employed as a post-doctoral fellow at the Host institution, with the aim of implementing the programme’s research objectives. These can be summarised as follows: (1) the elucidation of the integral processes that led to the foundation of Palaepaphos; (2) the characterization of the town’s urban fabric and the clarification of its extra-urban structure, in relation to the exploitation of its natural resources; (3) the definition of the intra- and extra-island connections of the Paphian polity during the latter part of the second millennium BCE and, finally (4) the development of a cultural heritage management strategy that will guarantee the safeguarding of areas of archaeological value, and the education of the wider public with respect to archaeological remains.

ARIEL is an advanced research programme that brings together traditional archaeological methods (i.e. excavations, typological analyses of material remains, etc.), innovative multi-disciplinary approaches (i.e. Geographical Information Systems (GIS), petrography, archaeobotany, etc.) and cultural heritage management in archaeological research. ARIEL’s network of collaborators in the UCY, the Cyprus University of Technology, the Department of Antiquities of Cyprus, the Geological Survey Department, and the Wiener Laboratory of Archaeological Science of the American School of Classical Studies at Athens actively engaged the fields of information technology, geology and the natural sciences to contribute towards analysing and interpreting archaeological data.

An integral part of ARIEL’s research activities throughout the duration of the project was the conducting of archaeological excavations. Fieldwork expeditions took place on a bi-annual basis at targeted areas of the urban nucleus of the Paphian polity. This extended archaeological landscape, which nowadays corresponds to the modern village of Kouklia, is more commonly referred to as Palaepaphos. Our archaeological expeditions focused on two distinct localities, namely the plateau of Hadjiabdullah and the mound of Laona. Ongoing fieldwork operations on the anthropogenic mound of Laona have determined its intricate construction; it consists of superimposed layers of marl and red soil. Our excavations have further succeeded in identifying a monumental structure of robust defensive nature on the eastern side of the mound, which was previously entirely invisible. On Hadjiabdullah, our annual excavations exposed a large sector of the monumental defensive wall protecting the north side of this prominent plateau. The expedition has so far exposed a substantial part of a well-planned architectural complex abutting the defensive wall, which housed large-scale storage and industrial activities. The excavated materials suggest that the site accommodated the city-state’s economic and administrative citadel during the Classical period.

The research fellow undertook the thorough recording and study of all archaeological remains unearthed by the UCY’s expeditions at Palaepaphos, dating to the town’s earliest phases, starting from Palaepaphos’ foundation horizon to the end of the Late Bronze Age at ca. 1050 BCE. The fellow’s meticulous macroscopic studies on the finds produced during the annual expeditions at Palaepaphos confirmed that the settlement was founded at the close of the Middle Bronze Age (at ca. 1700 BCE) (Objective 1). The study further ascertained that the settlement at Palaepaphos was laid out on a segmented (non-unified) landscape, consisting of distinct clusters that accommodated residential, mortuary, industrial and other activities. What is more, two previously unidentified sites of the Palaepaphos urban landscape, namely the plateau of Hadjiabdullah and the mound of Laona, were for the first time recognised as site clusters of the Late Bronze Age. The researcher’s material studies enabled her to map the strong ceramic affinities between the Paphian polity and the neighbouring Kouris region, thus addressing the programme’s Objective 3a. Furthermore, the researcher’s identification of imported artefacts from the Aegean and the Levant confirmed extra-insular connections between Palaepaphos and other polities of the eastern Mediterranean (Objective 3b). With regards to the ultimate objective of ARIEL, which aspired to provide a management tool for the preservation of areas of archaeological value, we collaborated with the Department of Antiquities to ensure the protection and preservation of significant archaeological data.

In addition to her study on the recently excavated archaeological remains from UCY’s expeditions at Palaepaphos, the fellow participated in the study and publication of other archaeological projects to address ARIEL’s research objectives. The fellow was responsible for the study and publication of a large part of the material deposited inside two wells of the locality Evreti at Palaepaphos, unearthed 50 years ago by a Swiss-German Mission. Thanks to the joined efforts of the researcher with an extended team of specialists, a comprehensive volume of the Evreti Wells was published in 2016. The detailed study and analysis of the Evreti wells and their contents by the fellow, and the other members of the publication team established that the material accumulated in these deposits corresponds to feasting, craft and residential activities. The fellow has been also responsible for the study and publication of material from other sites in Cyprus (Pyla-Kokkinokremos, Kalavasos-Ayios Dhimitrios, Maroni, Tochni-Lakkia etc.) and Greece (Lefkandi-Euboea and Mycenae).

Following the ceramological studies undertaken by the researcher, Dr Georgiou has vigorously disseminated the project’s results in a plethora of academic publications. The fellow also presented the results of her research on several occasions within the context of academic workshops, conferences and lectures at universities in Cyprus, Greece, Belgium, Austria, the United Kingdom and the United States. In addition to the publication of scholarly articles and her participation to academic conferences, ARIEL aspired to make an impact on the wider public, by means of targeted outreach activities, such as guided tours for the local community to the excavated sites, lectures addressing the wider public, and by participating in the Researcher’s Night events (2013, 2016). The project’s upgraded website ( also functions as a dynamic tool that disseminates the results of the ARIEL project and the broader fieldwork and research expeditions conducted by the UCY in the region of ancient Paphos. The website is well illustrated and uses simple terminology that does not estrange the wider public. A section accommodated at the website specifically focuses on the EU-funded ARIEL project, presenting its objectives, network of collaborators, the programme’s achievements and dissemination (

A significant milestone achieved during the second reporting period of ARIEL was the hosting of a workshop organised by the beneficiary in collaboration with the scientific co-ordinator. The international workshop, entitled “Ceramic identities and affinities of the Paphos Region in the Bronze Age (3rd and 2nd millennium BC)”, was hosted by the ARU on the 19th of September 2015. The event featured presentations by renowned scholars, who presented studies on original material and on the significance of the application of inter-disciplinary methodologies in archaeology.

An important component of the integration process was dedicated to the training of the fellow and the attainment of complementary skills. The researcher was educated on GIS principles and became skilled in the ArcGIS platform. She also participated in a number of training workshops, where she received advanced education on multiple disciplines pertaining to her main research direction (e.g. petrography, statistics for archaeology, application of IT tools, etc.). The fellow also received training on the innovative and technologically advanced techniques employed in archaeo-environmental studies (palaeo-botany, anthracological studies, microscopic tracing of phytolith and starch etc.).

The fellow’s integration in the academic community of the UCY, in particular the scholarly environment of the ARU was significantly strengthened. Dr Georgiou collaborated with the academic and administrative staff of the Host Organization and participated in workshops, public outreach and other activities organised by the ARU. The researcher also undertook teaching activities at the UCY and other Institutions. Among others, she was in charge of teaching an introductory course during Spring Term 2015 for the undergraduate syllabus at the Department of History and Archaeology.

As a result of Dr Georgiou’s meticulous work, the fruitful collaboration with the scientific coordinator and the support of the Host Institution’s infrastructures, the objectives outlined in Annex I were fully met. The successful implementation of the EU-funded project ARIEL project largely increased our understanding of the early history of eastern Mediterranean cultures, and elucidated the foundation and early occupation horizon of the Paphian polity in Cyprus, shedding light on an essentially unknown phase of the site’s long occupation history. The fellow’s advanced macroscopic ceramic studies and the integration of inter-disciplinary approaches brought to light new material and contributed to typological studies on Cypriot pottery. Finally, the opportunities offered by the Marie Sklodowska Curie grant have advanced the fellow’s academic quality and managerial capacities. She has been acknowledged by peer institutions in Europe and the USA as a promising young scholar of unquestionably impressive potential.