PRASTIO-MESOROTSOS (Chypre) : Results of tle Archaeological Expedition
Results of the Prastio-Mesorotsos Archaeological Expedition
The Ministry of Communications and Works, Department of Antiquities, announces that the 2010 Prastio-Mesorotsos project took place from 14 June to 19 July, with the permission of the Director of the Department of Antiquities, under the direction of Dr Andrew McCarthy of the University of Edinburgh.
The project involved investigation of the stratified remains of the Aceramic and Ceramic Neolithic, Chalcolithic, Bronze Age, Iron Age, Late Antique and Medieval archaeology. This site represents an extremely long occupation at a single location. Excavations were carried out in five areas from different zones of the circa 10 hectare site in the Paphos district. This season an extraordinary stratigraphic sequence was uncovered, showing architecture and features from multiple periods. The site itself occupies a prominent spot in the landscape, encompassing a highly visible rocky outcrop immediately adjacent to Diarizos, a major perennial river. The ecology of the site’s location almost certainly has something to do with its longevity, as it is surrounded by abundant natural resources.
This second season of excavation concentrated on establishing a secure sequence of superimposed archaeological phases at the site. The earliest use of the site dates to the Pre-pottery Neolithic period, and it continued to be occupied through the Late Neolithic and into the Early Chalcolithic period. The sequence of Middle Cypriot Bronze Age architecture is very well-preserved, and is situated in the same location where Early Cypriot Bronze Age and Chalcolithic materials are being found. This could eventually lead to a stratified sequence throughout all of these periods. Equally important is the apparent abandonment of the site in the beginning of the Late Cypriot Bronze Age, which coincides with the growth of Palaipaphos (Kouklia) as a regional centre of western Cyprus. It is likely that the inhabitants of Prastio-Mesorotsos abandoned the rural uplands at this time to become part of a growing society and economy on the coast.
After this Late Bronze Age hiatus, activity at the site seems to resume in the Iron Age (Geometric and Archaic) and continued to be the focus of inhabitation and activity throughout the Hellenistic, Roman and Byzantine periods, although these periods have not yet been found to have architecture associated with them. The later importance of the site relates directly to the fortunes of the nearby Agios Savvas tis Karonοs monastery, as shown by the presence of substantial Medieval architecture probably related to agricultural production or administration. The modern village of Prastio (abandoned due to an earthquake in 1953) was probably founded in the Venetian period, at which time inhabitation shifted across the river, while the location of the ancient site only served as the focus of agricultural/pastoral activity, as seen in a substantial and well-intact threshing floor (aloni) and evidence for herding.