The Ministry of Communications and Works, Department of Antiquities, announces the completion of the 2011 archaeological investigations ay the site of Prastio-Mesorotsos in the Paphos district. From 29 July to 4 September a team led by CAARI Director and University of Edinburgh Fellow Dr. Andrew McCarthy conducted the third season of excavations at this multi-period site.
This season, investigations revealed the remains of Aceramic and Ceramic Neolithic, Chalcolithic, Bronze Age, Late Antique and Medieval archaeology, representing what is likely to be the longest occupation at a single location yet studied in Cyprus, and amongst the longest-lived sites in the world. Excavations were carried out in eight areas and an extraordinary stratigraphic sequence was uncovered showing architecture and features from multiple periods.
Specifically, the sequence from the Neolithic period shows the first occupation as an ephemeral camp growing to a permanent settlement and spans the era with the first use of pottery on the island. Chalcolithic and Bronze Age occupational deposits were also excavated and the sequence shows remarkable continuity and development. In the latest phase of the Middle Cypriot Bronze Age period, the inhabitants of this village built a 1.5m wide wall of unknown length which has a series of floors associated with it, upon which were found domestic objects such as complete ceramic vessels, weaving equipment, food processing equipment and architectural features relating to the use of this space. A wall of this size represents a substantial investment of effort, which makes it all the more interesting that the site appears to have been abandoned not long after its construction. This abandonment seems to coincide with the growth of Palaipaphos on the coast. After the Late Bronze Age hiatus, the site became focus of renewed activity from the Iron Age Geometric period and onwards.
Elsewhere on the site, a probable Late Roman/Byzantine terrace wall has been uncovered, giving a further context to the artefacts from this period and establishing this location as a substantial focus of activity in the Byzantine and later Medieval periods. These rural activities culminated in the building of a still well-preserved aloni, or threshing floor, which was investigated this season in order to understand its date of construction, use and eventual abandonment. Modern use of the site was also recorded in order to understand the relationship between the ancient site and the now abandoned village of Prastio across the river. In particular, the hideout of the infamous Hassanpoulia gang from the late 19th century was reported to be nearby and artefacts relating to this period were collected in order to preserve the modern history of the site.