Wednesday, June 30, 2010

The temple of Aphrodite at ancient Kition

The temple of Aphrodite, the large wall in the foreground is claimed by the site to originate in the 12th century BC, something I find very very improbable.

Very few sites disappoint me, this was however one of them. It's very difficult to understand what anything once looked like, not to mention the very strange info sign.

Anyway, The Great Cypriot Goddess (later Aphrodite) is claimed to have been worshipped at this site from the 13th century BC while the Phoenicians associated her with Astarte during 9th century BC and onwards. It seems as if everything went well on the site until the 4th century when the city kingdoms on the island was dissolved and the area lost it's religious character.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

An ancient Fish

Mosaic from the 3rd or 4th century AD which can be found in the House of Eustolios in Kourion.

I keep coming back to ancient fish, you can find a quite large collection at this blog (a list is composed in this post or search). I'm however quite sure that it's symbolic here and used as a Christian insignia(other such symbols and even texts can be found in the mosaics).

Monday, June 28, 2010

The Selimiye Mosque

Another important mosque at Cyprus is the very impressive former cathedral of Saint Sophia. It's amazing how strange it is to enter the building, seeing this very familiar shape in a completely different shell. You can compare it to the Duomo di Orvieto in Etruria (even thou the comparison might be unfair).

Sunday, June 27, 2010

The Mosque at Hala Sultan Tekke

There are, of course, other interesting objects and places than the ones from the Bronze Age and classical periods; here you see the Hala Sultan Tekke Mosque, said to be the third most important mosque in the world. The stories has it that this was the place where Muhammed's nurse died.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

The natural conditions

View from Kourion.

The natural conditions are always important when studying an ancient society. I therefore, even thou we cannot be sure that Cyprus looked the same during the Bronze Age and classical times as it does today, find it interesting to see how harsh the landscape actually is during the late spring - I can only imagine how it is during the later summer months.

Friday, June 25, 2010

A zoomorphic vessel

Vessels can, of course, also be zoomorphic, as this one here that is in part shaped as a cow.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

An anthropomorphic vessel

Bichrome red figure jug, Cypro Archaic I period (750-600 BC).

Vessels from Cyprus are often anthropomorphic or zoomorphic. Here you see vessel with the traits of a woman, rendered in the surface.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010


Heracles, limestone from Kition, ca 470 BC.

I have previously talked a lot about Heracles and finding another statue of him will always make me happy. What's interesting here, in my opinion, is the cloth he's wearing - it reminds me of the one a Kore carries at the national museum. I would however need to have better knowledge on Cypriot art to draw any valid conclusions considering it.

Monday, June 21, 2010

A Mycenaean Squid

Squids are a common motif on first Minoan and later Mycenaean pottery. It is fortunate that the way they are painted change with time, thus making them datable -the later they are the more stylized are they. This one can be dated to the 14th century BC.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

A Plank Figure

Plank figure, Red Polished Ware, from Dhenia. Ca 1900 BC (early Bronze Age).

You might remember that I talked about plank figures from Cyprus earlier on this year. The ones I saw back then were all made of stone and I assumed, by some reason, that they were always made in that material - I was obviously in error.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

The ancient site of Hala Sultan Tekke

This is a view from the very over grown area 8 at Hala Sultan Tekke. The rather big city excavated there seems to be from the late Bronze Age and here you see a water channel leading down to something that might be describes as a bathroom.

Friday, June 18, 2010

A bird from the Bronze Age

Depictions of humans and animals from the distance past has always amazed people. Here you see a small bird, near the base at a position where it's easy to miss it. What was the reason to paint a bird? Why did the artist pick that place to paint it? Did he/she have any special intentions? Almost any ancient object can spark a large number of questions.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

A carved stone

This piece, a carved stone of special interest, was found at the Bronze Age site of Hala Sultan Tekke in 1972. It proved difficult to interpret and date the piece - no parallels have been found- , but it seems as it is a part of a stele or house model, probably from the 13th century BC, although it could date from any time between the 16th and 12th century BC. For more information on this stone, see SIMA (Studies in Mediterranean Archaeology) XLV:; Hala Sultan Tekke 8, p. 150-165.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Storage vessels - Pithoi

Here's a so called Pithos, an ancient storage vessel. This one is so large that it can stay outside even today with no obvious risk of getting damaged or stolen.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

A stirrup jar

I've been stuck at the Roman Cyprus form a while now and feel like I should go back the the Cypriot prehistory. Here you see a beautiful Mycenaean stirrup-jar, this one from 1400-1230 BC, a ware that was exported in great quantities from main land Greece during the late bronze age. The type was, which seems strange considering it's shape and detailed decoration, used as a storage vessel for oil or luxury products such as perfume.

Monday, June 14, 2010

A small pyramid from Kourion

Pyramids are almost exclusively associated with Egypt, but it should be remembered that they appear in other cultures as well. There's the famous Cestius pyramid in Rome (I have no idea why I've never posted a picture of it) and here's another from Kourion. I must unfortunately admit that I know very little about this monument, I can't find any decent book discussing it - I would however guess that it's from the the Roman period, rather early than late, say 0-200 AD, considering the context (notice that I cannot prove this in any way).

Sunday, June 13, 2010

A Hypocaust from Kourion

Kourion is an amazing site to visit not only if you enjoy mosaics. There's also a beautiful bath with where you can see a well preserved (or perhaps well restored) hypocaust.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

A Christian message

Mosaics can also contain written messages, here is one example from the House of Eustolios saying:

This house in place of its ancient armament of walls and iron and bronze and steel has now girt itself with the much venerated symbols of Christ.

Translation by the site authorities.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Another mosaic from Kourion

Here you see another example on a pattern mosaic from Kourion, House of Eustolios (3rd or 4th century AD). It is interesting to see how different the different styles can be within one single house - the owner obviously enjoyed a spectrum of styles.

A mosaic

You might get the impression, reading this blog, that all mosaics depicted humans or animals. That is most certainly not the case, patterns and geometrical figures are much more common. Here you see one such mosaic from the House of Eustolios in Kourion (the bath complex, 3rd or 4th century AD).

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

A mosaic from Kourion

This is yet another mosaic from Kourin, from the 3rd or 4th century AD, one depicting a woman in a medallion. She's holding a Roman messuring rod in her measuring right hand and we can see the text ΚΤΙΣΙΣ (Ktisis, the C is how Σ looked during this period), which means foundation or creation.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

How Achilles was dragged into the Trojan war

The story around the Trojan war was once built upon a large tradition of epics where the Iliad and Odyssey was only two of many (even thou they were considered the greatest already during antiquity). It might be mentioned in this context that the Iliad only tell the tale of how Achilles was angered by Agamemnon, the Greek leader. neither the start of the war, nor the end is mentioned.

This mosaic depicts one of these other stories. It is said that Thetis, the mother of Achilles, hid her son in the house of Lykomedes where he was dressed a s girl to make sure that he never went to Troy to face his doom. Here you see the moment when the cunning Odyssey come in and manage to trick Achilles into revealing himself and thus forcing him to join the Greeks.

Mosaic form Kourion, the 3rd century AD.

Monday, June 7, 2010

A mysterious vault

Everyone who has been on a site with me knows that I love caves, tunnels, cisterns, halls and holes on the ground. Here you see exactly one such opening that I would love to explore. The picture is from Amathous, just above the fountain/reservoir and reservoir.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Amathous - the Agora fountain

Fountains are a common sight on an Agora; water is not only a necessary resource but also a symbol of wealth and power - it's not something that is easily acquired in large quantities.

Here is one such fountain, from Amathous. It's built in a square (9,9x9.9 m) surrounded by four corinthian columns (spiral thou) which probably supported a roof. Notice that the columns are not placed in their original position.

Saturday, June 5, 2010

A water pipe (inverted Siphon) from Amathous

This is a very rare sight (and one that most people would miss), a inverted Siphon. This device made it possible to transport water upwards (preferably to a tank from with the water could be distributed).

Friday, June 4, 2010

Amathous - an overview

This is an overview of the ancient city of Amathous. It was founded during the 11 century BC by what could be an population originating from Cyrpus. It was to be conquered and ruled by foreign rulers several times, the Phoenicians during the 8th century BC, the Assyrians between 707 and 669,the Egyptians between 570 and 545, the Persians 545 and 332 BC. It sided, in the end, after the death of Alexander, with the Ptolemy rulers and the kingdom was abolished in 312. A last it was made a part of the Roman empire in 58 BC.

The city flourished for a long time, and the remains are impressive. It was finally abandoned when the Arabs destroyed it in 649-691 AD.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Inside the Kolossi Castle

I figured that an picture from the inside of the castle might be useful. Here you see one of four larger halls (two at each floor level). The cellar was divided into three units.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Kolossi Castle

This is the medieval Kolossi Castle, a very impressive building, near Kourion. I must admit that I know very little about the place, it's, as you may know, not from the period I study, but the site is beautiful, the castle a cool haven on a hot day and I would recommend you to visit it if you get the chance.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Another gladiator

Here's another mosaic from house of the Gladiators in Kourion, notice how you can see a referee (with a stick in his hand!) standing between the combatants - the games were not without rules and they can probably be likened to modern boxing rather than bloody massacres.