Version classiqueVersion mobile

Les royaumes de Chypre à l’épreuve de l’histoire

 | 
Anna Cannavò
, 
Ludovic Thély

Partie I – De la transition Bronze/Fer aux royaumes du premier millénaire

New Evidence on the Early History of the City-Kingdom of Amathous: Built Tombs of the Geometric Period at the Site of Amathous-Loures

Elisavet Stefani et Yiannis Violaris

Résumé

Cet article présente un site archéologique récemment découvert, qui fait l’objet depuis 2009 d’une fouille programmée du Département des Antiquités (Chypre) dans la région d’Amathous-Loures, à 1 km environ à l’est de l’acropole. Il apporte de nouveaux éléments sur les pratiques funéraires et autres pratiques cultuelles à l’âge du Fer, de la période géométrique jusqu’à l’époque hellénistique. L’importance de ce site réside dans le fait qu’il fournit des nouvelles informations sur les premières phases de la cité-royaumes, dont les origines sont encore à découvrir.

Texte intégral

Introduction

  • 1 Bekker-Nielsen 2004, p. 195-196. Geomorphological and archaeological investigations proved that the (...)

1The archaeological site of Loures lies about 100 m north of the present coastline and 1 km east of the acropolis of Amathous. It is adjacent to the coastal road, which, at this area, coincides with the course of the ancient road that was leading to Amathous from the east (fig. 1).1 This coastal archaeological site was covered by sand shortly after its abandonment. At the beginning of the 20th c. AD it was planted with eucalyptus in order to prevent flooding, which occurred as a result of the rainwater descending from the adjacent hills to the north, where the Eastern Necropolis of Amathous was located. The site of Loures was discovered in 2009, during the initial phases of a big construction project in that area.

Fig.1 — Aerial view with the location of the Loures site, the Acropolis and the Eastern Necropolis.

Fig.1 — Aerial view with the location of the Loures site, the Acropolis and the Eastern Necropolis.

Photo : google Earth.

The Excavation

2A circular peribolos, 17 m in diameter and an ovoid construction right in its centre, 1,5 m in diameter, were brought to light during the first excavation season, immediately after the removal of the surface sand layer (fig. 2). The peribolos wall is built of rough and semi-worked, small and medium-sized stones and its maximum width reaches 1,5 m. Ashlar blocks were only employed to form an opening that was located on the southern side of the peribolos, looking towards the sea. The north-western part of the peribolos lies over the foundation of what is obviously an earlier rectangular building, which probably presents two phases. This earlier building was possibly destroyed by fire. The peribolos is not completely preserved as the greatest part of its circumference on the north-eastern and western side has been destroyed, for reasons still elusive. Immediately to the west of the peribolos circular and ovoid built structures, of 1,5 - 3 m in diameter, were unearthed and will be discussed further.

3During the following seasons, the excavation was extended to the north, where a structure, 15 m long and 2 m wide was discovered. This is conventionally referred as a “platform” and is oriented along an east-west axis. Three more roughly circular structures, 3 - 3,5 m in diameter, were uncovered immediately to the north of the “platform”, lying approximately on the same east-west axis and looking towards the road (fig. 2). These structures are also roughly built with small, medium and large sized unworked and semi-worked limestones. The finds recovered during their excavation were mainly ceramic sherds, dated from the Geometric to the Hellenistic period.

Fig 2 — Aerial view of the excavated area at Loures.

Fig 2 — Aerial view of the excavated area at Loures.

Prepared by: Dr. D. Skarlatos, Ass. Prof. V. Vamvakousis. Photogrammetric Vision Lab in collaboration with Department of Antiquities.

Amathous Tomb 964

  • 2 In fig. 3 the slab is seen in the front left of the entrance, lying after its removal on the west w (...)

4During the 2012 excavation season, a trial trench in the interior of the north-western part of peribolos revealed some large-sized limestones, testifying the existence of an earlier structure. These led us to the discovery of an underground built tomb (inv. no AM T.964), lying right below the peribolos wall (fig. 3). The burial chamber is rectangular in shape and oriented on a north-south axis and it was excavated entering from the back side. The entrance of the tomb, located on the north side, is formed by two monolithic jambs and a lintel and was found blocked from the outside by a big limestone slab (fig.  3)2. The burial chamber was found filled with sand and soil, penetrated mainly from the entrance, forming layers of about 1 m in height. After these layers were removed, two concentrations of artefacts were uncovered, one along the southern side of the chamber and the other at the north-western corner. A large amount of disturbed and poorly preserved skeletal remains was recovered from the tomb, indicating its use for multiple burials. Unfortunately, no burial was found in situ and no association between the artefacts and the skeletal remains could be restored during the excavation.

Fig.3 — Tomb 964. View from the south.

Fig.3 — Tomb 964. View from the south.

Photo by A. Athanasiou, Dpt. of Antiquities, Cyprus.

5The burial chamber measures 2,60 m in length, 1,50 m in width and 2 m in height. The long sides of the tomb (eastern and western) are lined with walls of roughly cut large ashlar blocks arranged in six courses of unequal height, in the corbel-vault technique. The walls are vertically built up to 1 m height and then each course overlaps the one below in a way that at roof level they are spaced only 0,50 m apart (fig. 4). The short sides (northern and southern) are vertical and formed by the hard and solid soil layer, which is actually the bedrock where the shaft for the construction of the tomb was dug. The floor is levelled and similarly dug in the hard soil layer. The roof consists of five flat stone slabs, resting on the walls of the long sides.

Fig 4 — Sections of the Tomb 964 built long sides.

Fig 4 — Sections of the Tomb 964 built long sides.

Drawings by Ch. Demetriou.

6The funerary assemblage of Tomb 964 dates from the Cypro-Geometric II to the early Cypro-Archaic I period, representing two main phases of use: the first one during the early Cypro-Geometric II, i.e. in the middle of the 10th c. BC and the second one during the advanced Cypro-Geometric III / early Cypro-Archaic I, i.e. in the middle of the 8th c. BC. As mentioned above, the great majority of the finds was found concentrated along the southern side and at the north-western corner of the chamber. These concentrations however, do not seem to correspond to different phases of use of the tomb, since vessels dated to different periods were found mixed in both concentrations. The disturbance of the material is probably the result of secondary burials, when the bones and the burial gifts of the earlier burials would have been pushed aside, in order to give space for the deposition of the new ones. Still, the vessels associated with the last use(s) of the tomb were found scattered among the earlier burial gifts, possibly because of the fact that the chamber was flooded by rainwater, descending from the neighbouring hills of the Eastern Necropolis, or because the tomb was disturbed or even looted in Antiquity.

  • 3 For Palaepaphos-Skales see Karageorghis 1983a, p. 35, p. 66, p. 112-113, p. 251-252, p. 353 and p.  (...)

7One hundred artefacts were recovered from Tomb 964. The majority of these is dated to the Cypro-Geometric III period (900-750 BC) and consists mainly of locally produced ceramic vessels. The ceramic assemblage comprises a wide variety of shapes and sizes such as: amphorae with horizontal and vertical handles, amphoriskoi, trefoil and wide-mouthed jugs, flasks, juglets, skyphoi, bowls, plates and cooking pots, representing most of the types of the local ceramic production: Plain White, White Painted, Bichrome and Black-on-Red wares (fig. 5). Apart from the locally produced vessels, some imports from the Syro-Palestinian coast were also found in Tomb 964, namely two commercial amphorae, known as “Canaanite jars”, bearing incised symbols on their handles. Their closest parallels can be traced mostly in funerary assemblages, e.g. at Palaepaphos, and are dated to the Cypro-Geometric I-II period.3 A flask with painted decoration and a jug with strainer spout and bichrome painted decoration also represent importations from the Syro-Palestinian coast. These vessels were often locally imitated, and such examples were found in this same tomb.

Fig 5 — Part of the ceramic assemblage from Tomb 964.

Fig 5 — Part of the ceramic assemblage from Tomb 964.

Photo by A. Athanasiou, Dpt. of Antiquities, Cyprus.

  • 4 A faience scarab decorated with a similar subject, but with two standing figures, was found in Tomb (...)

8The rest of the funerary assemblage consists of weapons, adornments and clothing accessories, which are in agreement with the same chronological horizon indicated by the pottery, i.e. between the Cypro-Geometric II and early Cypro-Archaic I periods. A bronze fibula with an angular bow is a characteristic type of the Geometric period in Cyprus, while a gold diadem with impressed decoration was found folded, probably as a result of its “killing” ritual (fig. 6d). Two scarabs were also recovered from Tomb 964: the first one is made of bone and is set in cold frame, which is decorated with wavy gold string (fig. 6a). Its sealing surface consists of a male figure in profile standing between two crocodiles.4 The second scarab is made of quartz and on its sealing surface appears a schematically executed standing male figure also in profile, holding a bow and arrow (fig. 6b).

  • 5 Georganas 2005, p. 64 and p. 69.
  • 6 Karageorghis 1981a, p. 148; Snodgrass 1981, p. 130; Snodgrass 1982, p. 292.
  • 7 Snodgrass 1981, p. 131; Vonhoff 2013, p. 202.

9An iron sword, an iron spearhead and at least two iron knives constitute the weaponry found among the burial gifts in this tomb. The knives have a narrow blade with convex cutting edge, fastened into wooden handles with bronze and iron round-headed rivets. The iron sword is of particular interest, since its shape recalls its Late Bronze Age bronze predecessor, termed Naue II (fig. 6c). This is one of the predominant types of weapon during the Early Iron Age in the Aegean and the sword found in the tomb constitutes its evolution. The Naue II sword is considered to have been imported from Central Europe to the Aegean and from there, to Cyprus.5 However, the first examples in iron were made in Cyprus, which becomes an important metallurgical centre of iron working and for the production of iron blades for knives and daggers, at least from end of the 11th c. BC.6 Iron daggers and swords occur on the island until the end of the 7th c. BC, as a continuity and evolution of the Late Bronze Age type.7 The sword found in Tomb 964 is almost completely preserved, except for the tip, with ivory traces and eight bronze rivets still visible at the area of the handle.

Fig.6 — a: scarab made of bone found in Tomb 964; b: scarab of quartz found in Tomb 964; c: iron sword found in Tomb 964; d: gold diadema with impressed decoration found in Tomb 964.

Fig.6 — a: scarab made of bone found in Tomb 964; b: scarab of quartz found in Tomb 964; c: iron sword found in Tomb 964; d: gold diadema with impressed decoration found in Tomb 964.

Photo by A. Athanasiou, Dpt. of Antiquities, Cyprus.

Amathous Tomb 967

10A second built tomb was discovered during the 2014 excavation season (inv. no AM. T.967) approximately 13 m to the west of Tomb 964. A rounded pit filled with sand led us inside the chamber, once more from the back side. Two meters to the north of the pit a fragmentary limestone funerary stele was found upturned among other scattered stones. The stele is dated to the late Classical / early Hellenistic period and had already been in secondary use, as indicated by the straight-cut edge of its lower preserved part. The presence of a funerary stele in this area was not unexpected, bearing in mind the proximity of the Eastern Necropolis to the north, and the funerary character of the site itself, which was made clear especially after the discovery of Tomb 964. Other fragments of limestone stelae and cippi were recovered during the excavation of the site.

  • 8 Gjerstad 1948, p. 32; Wright 1992, p. 135 and p. 349; Carstens 2006, p. 129.

11Tomb 967 is also rectangular in shape, measuring 3,15 m in length, 2 m in width and 2,35 in height and is oriented along an east-west axis. The long sides of the burial chamber (the northern and southern) are lined with roughly-cut ashlar blocks in nine courses, employing the corbel vault technique, as in Tomb 964 (fig. 7). The first three courses, up to 0,80 m height, are vertically built of smaller limestone blocks, while the rest of the courses were built with larger blocks, projecting over one another as they reach the roof, where they are spaced only 0,55 m apart. Small-sized stone wedges were mainly employed on the upper courses to provide a better support (fig. 8). The short sides (the eastern and western) are vertical and formed by the hard and solid soil layer, in which the shaft for the building of the tomb was dug. The roof is also flat, consisted of large stone slabs, placed transversely across the chamber and resting on its long walls (fig. 9a). The floor is leveled, dug into the hard soil. The entrance is situated on the eastern side of the burial chamber, off-centered to the south. It is built of two stone blocks, forming the door-jambs and a long monolithic lintel. It was found blocked from the outside with a big stone slab (fig. 7). Built entrances with three monolithic elements (jambs and lintel) and sometimes with a fourth one, as a threshold, are characteristic of different tomb types in Amathous from the Geometric period onwards.8

Fig 7 — Tomb 967. View from the west.

Fig 7 — Tomb 967. View from the west.

Photo by A. Athanasiou, Dpt. of Antiquities, Cyprus.

12 

Fig. 8 — Sections of the Tomb 967 built long sides.

Fig. 8 — Sections of the Tomb 967 built long sides.

Drawings by G. Panteli, Dpt. of Antiquities, Cyprus.

13The chamber was found half filled with soil and sand that mainly penetrated through the entrance and the back side. The pit, which led us inside the tomb, seems to be associated with the first burial found after the removal of the top soil layers. It was the fragmentary skeleton of an adult male, found in situ, at the south-western corner of the burial chamber. The only find related to this burial was a small undecorated juglet, dated to the end of the Classical period, dating the last use of the tomb.

14When the rest of the soil and sand layers were removed, the skeletal remains of the earlier burials were found scattered among the funerary gifts. The great majority of the latter consists of locally produced vessels, of various shapes, and they were mainly concentrated along the north side of the chamber. This concentration is not related to their initial deposition and almost all the grave gifts were found mixed with scattered limestones of various sizes. These stones might have appertained to a structure, possibly used as bench for the deposition of the deceased and the funerary gifts of these earlier burials. The disturbance of both the stones and burials gifts among with the skeletal remains may be related to the continuous use of the grave as well as to the penetration of the sand and the rainwater.

  • 9 No anthropological analysis has been performed yet for the skeletal material deriving from Tomb 964 (...)

15Only one fragmentary preserved burial, the last one in time, was found in situ, along the southern side of the chamber. As mentioned above, the rest of the skeletal remains were found scattered among the stones and the burials gifts, in a poor state of preservation. A few long bones fragments of skulls were found inside an amphora and a krater (see below). The disturbance of the material did not allow any association between the skeletal remains and the burial gifts during the excavation, probably except from the secondary burial(s), when the bones were removed and placed inside the vessels. The large number of skeletal remains found in the tomb suggests its use for multiple burials of young and adult individuals.9

  • 10 Gjerstad et al. 1935, p. 24 (T.5), p. 27 (T.6), p. 30-31 (T.7), p. 46-47 (T.8), p. 65 (T.10), p. 70 (...)

16The lower layer that was in contact with the floor of the chamber, consisted of fine sandy soil containing a large amount of pebbles, the size of which varied between few millimeters and five centimeters. This layer was ca. 0,20 m thick and during its removal the greatest amount of metal finds and small bones was recovered. At this point, it is worth mentioning that such pebble layers or bench of pebbles have been found in many other Geometric tombs excavated at Amathous,10 a fact which is likely to be associated with the funerary practices of the region during the Geometric period. Apart from the disturbed stones, a bench bordered by rough and semi-worked limestones was found on the southern side of the tomb (fig. 9b). The bench, 1,35 m long, 0,65 m wide and 0,30 m high was found filled with smaller rough stones and pebbles. To the west, it is bordered by ashlar blocks, laid in two courses, forming a row up to the northern side of the tomb.

Fig.9 — a: the roof of Tomb 967, made of flat stone slabs; b: the bench on the southern side of Tomb 967.

Fig.9 — a: the roof of Tomb 967, made of flat stone slabs; b: the bench on the southern side of Tomb 967.

Dpt. of Antiquities, Cyprus.

  • 11 Bikai 1987b, p. 2-3, p. 5, p. 9 and p. 14, pl. 5:12.
  • 12 Karageorghis 1983a, p. 26-27; Karageorghis, Raptou 2014, p. 22 and p. 26.
  • 13 Gjerstad 1948, p. 285.
  • 14 Tytgat 1989, p. 7-8.

17One hundred and ten artifacts have been registered from Tomb 967, testifying its use during at least three phases: the first one during the Cypro-Geometric II, the second one during the Cypro-Geometric III and the third one between the end of Cypro-Geometric III and the beginning of Cypro-Archaic I (fig. 10). The vast majority of the ceramic assemblage is dated to the last phase of use of the tomb, around 750-700 BC, and consists mainly of open-shaped vessels: deep and shallow bowls of various sizes of Plain White, White Painted, Red Slip and Black-on-Red wares, as well as jugs, juglets and amphorae. Apart from the locally produced vessels, three specimens of the Syro-Palestinian ceramic production have been also recovered: a krater with three loop handles attached to its base, a red-slipped flask and a juglet with bichrome painted decoration (fig. 10). Two similar kraters were found in tombs of the Western Necropolis of Amathous and are dated to the Cypro-Geometric II and III periods.11 Similar vessels were locally produced in Cyprus, with painted decoration since the early Geometric until the Archaic period in the area of Palaepaphos,12 Lapithos, Amathous and Kourion. Their prototypes are Syro-Palestinian and are assigned to the Middle Bronze Age.13 The krater found in Tomb 967 contained human bones, like the krater found in Tomb 111 at the Western Necropolis,14 a fact that requires further research.

Fig.10 — Part of the ceramic assemblage found in Tomb 967.

Fig.10 — Part of the ceramic assemblage found in Tomb 967.

Photo by A. Athanasiou. Dpt. of Antiquities, Cyprus.

  • 15 Specifically, Black-on-Red juglets produced in the Paphos region and Bichrome juglets from the Sala (...)

18The rest of the ceramic assemblage of Tomb 967 includes characteristic types of the Amathousian ceramic production as well as importations from other Cypriot kingdoms.15 All the vessels can be typologically and morphologically compared with the finds from other contemporary Amathousian tombs.

  • 16 Macdonald 1992, p. 60 (fig. 3:2) and p. 68 (fig. 3:4).
  • 17 From Palaepaphos-Plakes, Tomb 144/43 (Karageorghis, Raptou 2014, p. 49, pl. XXVII) and from Palaepa (...)
  • 18 Vonhoff 2013, p. 198.
  • 19 Vonhoff 2013, p. 205.

19Apart from the ceramic assemblage, one spearhead, three iron knives, two daggers and one sword with ivory handles have been restored from the metal fragments found dispersed in the tomb. The sword is almost completely preserved, with a total length of 45,5 cm (fig. 11a). It has a forked hilt and its fragmentary ivory handle was attached with the use of bronze rivets. This sword finds parallels in tombs of the Western Necropolis of Amathous, dated to the end of the Cypro-Geometric III / early Cypro-Archaic I period.16 One of the two daggers found in Tomb 967 preserves its handle and most of the part of its blade (fig. 11b). Its handle is decorated with ivory held by bronze rivets and it terminates in a horizontal ivory bar. This dagger presents close resemblance with two others, found at Palaepaphos and dated to the Cypro-Geometric I period.17 The particular form of the handle, with a T-shaped bar, represents a very rare feature among this group of iron daggers.18 One more horizontal bar, as part of a fragmented handle that has been restored from fragments found in Tomb 967 and another one from Tomb 964, accentuate the importance of this particularity of the ivory handles, most probably attached to iron daggers. Iron daggers were the predominant weapon in the island during the Early Iron Age and their presence in funerary contexts, especially those with ivory handles, has led to the conclusion that they were used as ceremonial objects rather than real weapons.19

  • 20 Karageorghis 1981a, p. 148; Karageorghis, Iacovou 1990, p. 97; Karageorghis, Raptou 2014, p. 42.
  • 21 Karageorghis 1981a, p. 149.
  • 22 Karageorghis 1987, p. 719, fig. 189.
  • 23 Karageorghis, Raptou 2014, p. 62.
  • 24 From Amathous: T.331/41 (Chavane 1990, nos 82 and 685), T.958/14, T.269 of the British Museum exped (...)

20Among the three iron knives, one is almost completely preserved. It represents a widespread type with concave cutting edge and wooden or ivory handle (fig. 11c). It appears already from the 12th c. as Aegean influence and it occurs in many Cypro-Geometric I burials.20 Their size, which often exceeds 30 cm in length, and the handle’s elaborate decoration, occasionally with gold plating, underlines their role as prestige objects rather than their utilitarian function as cutting tools.21 A detail, preserved on the bone handle’s edge of the Tomb 967 knife, with incised cruciform or floral motif inscribed in a circle, recalls a similar knife found in Tomb 523 at the Western Necropolis of Amathous: it bears an incised rosette and is dated to the Cypro-Geometric I period.22 The discovery of another iron knife at Palaepaphos, possibly with a similar decoration, has led to the assumption that these knives were made in one of these two regions.23 The weaponry found in Tomb 967 was accompanied by a whetstone. Similar whetstones have been found in many other Geometric tombs at Amathous and other areas of Cyprus, usually accompanying knives.24

Fig.11 — a: iron Sword found in Tomb 967; b: iron dagger found in Tomb 967; c: iron knife found in Tomb 967.

Fig.11 — a: iron Sword found in Tomb 967; b: iron dagger found in Tomb 967; c: iron knife found in Tomb 967.

Photo by A. Athanasiou, Dpt. of Antiquities, Cyprus.

  • 25 Chavane 1990, p. 61-62.

21Two bronze arched fibulas were found in Tomb 967. One of them is completely preserved, representing a characteristic type, where the bow is decorated with four spherical beads. Most known examples of this type occur in the Amathousian burial records and are dated between the Cypro-Geometric II and the Cypro-Archaic period.25 A small piece of crumpled gold foil, a gold bead and a bone scarab with traces of red paint on the sealing surface were also found in Tomb 967.

  • 26 Gjerstad 1948, p. 285.
  • 27 Chavane 1990, p. 7-8; Karageorghis, Raptou 2014, p. 60.
  • 28 Georgiadou 2011, p. 179.

22Fragments of bronze strainers were recovered from both Tomb 964 and 967. These vessels occur in Geometric tombs at Amathous and other regions of the island. They were widely used on the Syro-palestininan coast,26 where they appeared in the Middle Bronze Age, and along with the ladles, the amphorae and the skyphoi compose the set of symposium vessels.27 Ceramic specimens of these open-shaped vessels, produced according to metal prototypes, appear at Amathous, among the Early Iron Age material, and less frequently in other regions, such as Lapithos, Palaepaphos and Salamis.28

Discussion

  • 29 Coldstream 1986, p. 325-327.

23Amathous is considered as one of the most outward-looking sites of the island, since the Early Iron Age. A site with numerous Syro-Palestininan importations, but also with the earliest and more abundant importations of Aegean pottery, often imitated in local clay. Therefore, it is worth noting the absence of Aegean pottery from both tombs at Loures. In Amathous, a number of rich burials has been found, containing a large amount of imported Aegean vessels, almost always accompanied by respective Syro-Palestinian importations, probably as wealth and high social status indicators.29 The complete absence of Aegean pottery from the Loures tombs surely does not disprove their importance, however one wonders whether it is coincidental or a conscious choice, the reasons for which are still to be traced.

  • 30 Åström 1987.
  • 31 A long iron sword was found intentionally bent in a tomb at Palaepaphos: Karageorghis 1983a, p. 216 (...)

24In general, the funerary assemblages from both tombs do not represent any particularities compared with other contemporary tombs from Amathous or from the rest of the island. They bear particular similarities with the burial gifts found in tombs at the Western Necropolis of Amathous. On the other hand, the weaponry specimens recovered from both tombs at Loures, occur quite often in contemporary funerary assemblages both in Amathous and other regions of the island, but these are not necessarily related to any specific social group, such as the warriors’. However, the concentration of all these artifacts in monumental built tombs, is clearly associated with their role, as prestige objects of a wealthy social group. Regarding the weapons found in the Loures tombs, another particularity should be noted: the blades of the dagger from Tomb 967 and of the sword from Tomb 964 respectively, seem to have been deliberately bent. Such practices, namely the ritual “killing” of weapons, are well known and broadly attested in the Aegean since the early Iron Age and even earlier on the Syro-Palestinian coast and various interpretations have been given.30 In Cyprus, this symbolic action, as part of a ritual practice, is encountered since the Early Bronze Age, but it seems not to be common during the Iron Age.31

25The monumentality and the particularity of the architectural type of both tombs are undoubtedly related to individuals with a special social position, inasmuch the choice of this tomb type distinguished them from the rest of the people who were buried in the most common and predominant type, the rock-cut chamber tomb. The importance of these tombs lies not only in their rarity as architectural types, unknown to the rest of the island, but also in the choice and the purpose they served for their occupants. Thus, in this case, both the funerary assemblage and the nature of the tomb architecture support the identification of the deceased as members of a wealthy group with probably high social status. Moreover, the selection of this site, in which the tombs were built, testifies a need of separation of the people who were interred there, from the rest of the people who were buried in the nearby necropolises. As mentioned above, the hill slopes where the Eastern Necropolis extends, are located only a few dozen meters to the north of the Loures site. These hills are formed of soft limestone rock, suitable for cutting the shafts for other burial purposes. In this coastal site of Loures, where they decided to build their tombs, instead of soft rock there is a hard and solid soil layer, which they dug and utilize in the same way as the rock. The need to create a separate and possibly a distinct burial ground, adjacent and visible from the main road, at the beginning of the Eastern Necropolis, firstly reached when coming to Amathous from the east, should not escape our attention.

  • 32 Gjerstad et al. 1935, p. 114-119 and p. 140; Gjerstad 1948, p. 33 and p. 39.

26The tombs at Loures comprise the first and earliest known examples of intact built tombs of the Iron Age in Cyprus and they seem to be the forerunners of the Archaic built tombs in Amathous. Until now, it was known that monumental built tombs appeared in Cyprus during the Late Bronze Age and were then abandoned to re-appear even more monumental by the end of the Cypro-Geometric and mainly during the Archaic and Classical periods. One poorly preserved built tomb (inv. no AM T.21), excavated at the Western Necropolis of Amathous by the Swedish Cyprus Expedition in 1930, represents common typological and structural elements with the tombs at Loures, such as the corbel building technique.32 The first use of Tomb 21 is dated between the end of Cypro-Geometric I and the beginning of Cypro-Geometric II period. Aside Tomb 21, no other published examples of contemporary built tombs with the same or different construction technique are known in Cyprus.

  • 33 Gjerstad et al. 1935, p. 140; Westholm 1941, p. 31 and p. 52; Gjerstad 1948, p. 33 and p. 39.
  • 34 Westholm 1941, p. 31; Gjerstad 1948, p. 33 and p. 39 ; Dikaios 1960, p. 21; Wright 1992, p. 134-135 (...)
  • 35 Gjerstad 1948, p. 32; Dikaios 1960, p. 22; Wright 1992, p. 135 and p. 349; Carstens 2006, p. 129.
  • 36 Carstens 2006, p. 129-130.

27The origins of the built tombs at Loures could be sought at the nearby necropolises of Amathous, where another particular architectural tomb type was in use from the end of the Cypro-Geometric I until the late Archaic period.33 This type consists of rectangular and usually oblong shafts vertically cut into the rock from the surface. Their roofs were flat and formed of large stone slabs, placed transversely across the shaft, resting on the long sides. A composite version of this type occurs when the long sides are lined with inner walls, sometimes constructed in the corbel-vault technique.34 Their entrance was of the well-known type, built of two stone blocks, forming the orthostatic jambs, on which rests a third one, as a lintel. Sometimes a fourth block was also used as a threshold. The entrance was usually situated on the edge of one of the two long sides and only seldom on the center of a long side or on the short sides. A sloping and usually short and narrow dromos was leading to the entrance.35 The shaft tombs and their composite version, with lined masonry on the long side, constitute a characteristic tomb type, exclusively found at Amathous, and for which no direct forerunner is yet known.36 They are of great importance for the study of the development of funerary architecture and for the emergence of the Iron Age built tombs in Cyprus.

  • 37 Marchegay 1999, p. 150 and p. 152; Wright 1985, p. 331; Wright 1992, p. 344.

28The tombs at Loures could fall into a long tradition of built tombs that dates back to the Late Bronze Age, documented at Enkomi. At least five Late Bronze Age built tombs dated to the 14th and 13th centuries BC were excavated in Enkomi. These tombs are rectangular in plan and built in ashlar masonry, in the corbel-vault building technique and they are roofed by flat stone slabs. They have been associated with the ashlar and fully corbelled tombs of a Syrian site at Ras Shamra.37 The chronological hiatus, however, left between the Enkomi and the Loures built tombs is not spanned by any intermediate examples, which could justify a direct influence between Enkomi and Loures. This difficulty notwithstanding, the two built tombs at Loures provides new elements for the research of the monumental funerary architecture in Cyprus, not to mention the implications in social organization as well as in the regional peculiarities of the Amathous kingdom.

  • 38 Bekker-Nielsen 2004, p. 195.

29It must be mentioned that the dromoi of the tombs at Loures were not excavated. Only a small part of the dromos outside the entrance of Tomb 964 was investigated, revealing the absence of any other built structure outside the burial chamber. Some vessels dated to the last phase of use of the tomb were recovered from this excavated area. The rest of the dromos of Tomb 964 was not excavated because it was lying right below the “platform”, while the entrance of Tomb 967 was right below the center of a double circular structure (fig. 12). These circular and ovoid structures encountered in various spots within the excavated area at Loures, seem to have been used as markers of the underlying tombs. A trial trench in the center of one such structure has uncovered, apart from a large quantity of mainly Geometric sherds, a part of a big limestone slab, vertically placed. This is most likely to be the slab, which blocked the entrance of another tomb. Moreover, a circular structure found in clear association to the base of a funerary stele provides even more cogent evidence for the correlation of these structures with possible underlying tomb (fig. 13). The base of the stele is oriented to the north, towards the road, supporting the assumption that these monuments were visible by the people who were using the main road leading to Amathous from the east.38

Fig 12 — Plan of the excavated area at Loures.

Fig 12 — Plan of the excavated area at Loures.

Drawing by G. Panteli, Dpt. of Antiquities, Cyprus.

30 

Fig 13 — Base of funerary stele found in situ and in conjunction with a circular structure.

Fig 13 — Base of funerary stele found in situ and in conjunction with a circular structure.

Dpt. of Antiquities, Cyprus.

31The exact chronology of the circular and ovoid structures is still uncertain. However, the pottery assemblage recovered during their excavation and related to their last phase of use are mostly dated to the Hellenistic period. On the other hand, the role of the big “platform” is yet unknown, but the material recovered during its excavation and from the trial trenches down to its foundation, give us data that could date it to the Archaic period onwards.

  • 39 The study of the amphorae is undertaken by Prof. Antigoni Marangou, who we thank for her always val (...)

32What is clear, is that people returned to this site for centuries after the first burials and this is undoubtedly related to the preservation of a memory. People were marking the tombs, even with simple and unimposing structures and they were performing some actions or even ritual practices, testified by the artifacts found during the excavations: clay unguentaria, amphorae, skyphoi, a bronze spatula left on the peribolos wall along with an unguentarium. It is worth mentioning that no animal bones, hearths or ashes related to pyres have been traced in the excavated area until now. A large portion of the artifacts deriving from the whole excavated area comprises sherds of Classic and Hellenistic amphorae, many of which are imported from the East Aegean.39 The presence of amphorae, jugs and drinking vessels could be associated with some ritual practices, but it still early to proceed with such a presumption.

  • 40 Machowski 2007.
  • 41 Gjerstad et al. 1935, p. 138 and p. 140.

33The role of the ovoid structure in the center of the large peribolos remains also unknown. In any case and considering the excavation data, the existence of one or more tombs underneath the area encircled by the peribolos is not at all unlikely. The occurrence of stone periboloi above tombs is usually associated with tumuli, which they border. Such periboloi dated to the early phases of the Iron Age, at the beginning of the first millennium BC, have been found in different areas of Greece: from the Cyclades (Naxos-Tsikalario), to Thessaly and Northern Greece (Macedonia).40 At Loures however, there is still no evidence related to tumuli. The only known tumulus in the area of Amathous was excavated in 1930 by the Swedish Cyprus Expedition, revealing a Hellenistic pit tomb. Both the structure and the fact that cremated human bones were found in an alabaster vessel, led the excavator to identify it as the tomb of a Ptolemaic official.41

34The exact chronology of the big peribolos is also uncertain, but its presence is important by definition, as it defines something: the discovery of one tomb, until now, below its circumference could not be completely coincidental. Besides that, the peribolos overlies a more ancient rectangular structure, again not accidentaly. The date and the role of the latter are still not clear, due to lack of evidence: only a course of its foundation is preserved and is associated with scarce material.

35Concerning the chronological relations between the architectural remains of the excavated area at Loures, the following schema may be given: at first the built tombs were constructed, then the rectangular structure and after that the peribolos, the “platform” and finally the circular and ovoid structures. The area was completely abandoned by the end of the Hellenistic period and was soon covered with sand.

36In conclusion, the importance of this newly excavated site does not only lie on the discovery of the impressive built tombs and their early date, but also on the rest of the architectural remains that seem to be associated with these tombs, yielding new and unknown hitherto information related to the funerary and possibly other ritual practices in Amathous.

Notes

1 Bekker-Nielsen 2004, p. 195-196. Geomorphological and archaeological investigations proved that the ancient road passed through the site.

2 In fig. 3 the slab is seen in the front left of the entrance, lying after its removal on the west wall of the chamber.

3 For Palaepaphos-Skales see Karageorghis 1983a, p. 35, p. 66, p. 112-113, p. 251-252, p. 353 and p. 413 (pl. XXVI, LIII, LXXIII and CLVI). For Palaepaphos-Plakes see Karageorghis, Raptou 2014, p. 32-33, p. 48, p. 55 and p. 96 (pl. VIII, XIX and LXIV).

4 A faience scarab decorated with a similar subject, but with two standing figures, was found in Tomb 201 at the Eastern Necropolis of Amathous, excavated by the British Museum expedition in 1893-1894, and is dated to the beginning of the Archaic period (Forgeau 1986, p. 151; Murray, Smith, Walters 1900, p. 99, fig. 147:20).

5 Georganas 2005, p. 64 and p. 69.

6 Karageorghis 1981a, p. 148; Snodgrass 1981, p. 130; Snodgrass 1982, p. 292.

7 Snodgrass 1981, p. 131; Vonhoff 2013, p. 202.

8 Gjerstad 1948, p. 32; Wright 1992, p. 135 and p. 349; Carstens 2006, p. 129.

9 No anthropological analysis has been performed yet for the skeletal material deriving from Tomb 964 and 967.

10 Gjerstad et al. 1935, p. 24 (T.5), p. 27 (T.6), p. 30-31 (T.7), p. 46-47 (T.8), p. 65 (T.10), p. 70-71 (T.11), p. 78 (T.12), p. 79 (T.13), p. 85 (T.14), p. 90 (T.15), p. 94-95 (T.16), p. 104 (T.18), p. 111 (T.19), p. 114-115 (T.21), p. 120-121 (T.22) and p. 125 (T.23). Such layers have been identified during the excavation of many other tombs at Amathous, which are still unpublished (personal communication with the archaeological and technical staff of Limassol District Archaeological Museum).

11 Bikai 1987b, p. 2-3, p. 5, p. 9 and p. 14, pl. 5:12.

12 Karageorghis 1983a, p. 26-27; Karageorghis, Raptou 2014, p. 22 and p. 26.

13 Gjerstad 1948, p. 285.

14 Tytgat 1989, p. 7-8.

15 Specifically, Black-on-Red juglets produced in the Paphos region and Bichrome juglets from the Salamis area. Identification by Anna Georgiadou, to whom we express our gratitude.

16 Macdonald 1992, p. 60 (fig. 3:2) and p. 68 (fig. 3:4).

17 From Palaepaphos-Plakes, Tomb 144/43 (Karageorghis, Raptou 2014, p. 49, pl. XXVII) and from Palaepaphos-Skales, Tomb 89 (Karageorghis 1983a, p. 320, pl. CLCCCIC and CXCII; Vonhoff 2013, p. 189, fig. 7).

18 Vonhoff 2013, p. 198.

19 Vonhoff 2013, p. 205.

20 Karageorghis 1981a, p. 148; Karageorghis, Iacovou 1990, p. 97; Karageorghis, Raptou 2014, p. 42.

21 Karageorghis 1981a, p. 149.

22 Karageorghis 1987, p. 719, fig. 189.

23 Karageorghis, Raptou 2014, p. 62.

24 From Amathous: T.331/41 (Chavane 1990, nos 82 and 685), T.958/14, T.269 of the British Museum expedition. Many other whetstones from Amathous tombs are still unpublished (personal communication with the archaeologic and technical stall of the Limassol District Archaeological Museum). Palaepaphos-Skales: Karageorghis 1983a, p. 21 (T.43/155, pl. XXV), p. 46 (T.46/2, pl. XLVI), p. 77 (T.50/12, pl. LXVIII), p. 107 (T.55/3, pl. LXXX), p. 151 (T.63/50, pl. CIII), p. 153 (T.64/2, pl. LXXXI), p. 206 (T.75/46, pl. CXXXI), p. 217 (T.76/25, pl. CXLIV), p. 285 (T.83/74, pl. CLXXIV), p. 320-321 (T.89/104 and 126, pl. CLXXXIX). Palaepaphos-Plakes: Karageorghis, Raptou 2014, p. 49 (T.144/38, pl. XXVIII), p. 63 (T.145/47, pl. XXXIX). Also from Lapithos: http://collections.smvk.se/carlotta-mhm/web/object/3201427.

25 Chavane 1990, p. 61-62.

26 Gjerstad 1948, p. 285.

27 Chavane 1990, p. 7-8; Karageorghis, Raptou 2014, p. 60.

28 Georgiadou 2011, p. 179.

29 Coldstream 1986, p. 325-327.

30 Åström 1987.

31 A long iron sword was found intentionally bent in a tomb at Palaepaphos: Karageorghis 1983a, p. 216 (pl. CXLIII:22). We would like to thank Christian Vonhoff for providing us with interesting information upon the metal objects from the tombs we excavated.

32 Gjerstad et al. 1935, p. 114-119 and p. 140; Gjerstad 1948, p. 33 and p. 39.

33 Gjerstad et al. 1935, p. 140; Westholm 1941, p. 31 and p. 52; Gjerstad 1948, p. 33 and p. 39.

34 Westholm 1941, p. 31; Gjerstad 1948, p. 33 and p. 39 ; Dikaios 1960, p. 21; Wright 1992, p. 134-135 and p. 349; Carstens 2006, p. 130.

35 Gjerstad 1948, p. 32; Dikaios 1960, p. 22; Wright 1992, p. 135 and p. 349; Carstens 2006, p. 129.

36 Carstens 2006, p. 129-130.

37 Marchegay 1999, p. 150 and p. 152; Wright 1985, p. 331; Wright 1992, p. 344.

38 Bekker-Nielsen 2004, p. 195.

39 The study of the amphorae is undertaken by Prof. Antigoni Marangou, who we thank for her always valuable help and insights.

40 Machowski 2007.

41 Gjerstad et al. 1935, p. 138 and p. 140.

Table des illustrations

Titre Fig.1 — Aerial view with the location of the Loures site, the Acropolis and the Eastern Necropolis.
Crédits Photo : google Earth.
URL http://books.openedition.org/efa/docannexe/image/2946/img-1.png
Fichier image/png, 1,6M
Titre Fig 2 — Aerial view of the excavated area at Loures.
Crédits Prepared by: Dr. D. Skarlatos, Ass. Prof. V. Vamvakousis. Photogrammetric Vision Lab in collaboration with Department of Antiquities.
URL http://books.openedition.org/efa/docannexe/image/2946/img-2.png
Fichier image/png, 1,5M
Titre Fig.3 — Tomb 964. View from the south.
Crédits Photo by A. Athanasiou, Dpt. of Antiquities, Cyprus.
URL http://books.openedition.org/efa/docannexe/image/2946/img-3.png
Fichier image/png, 1,7M
Titre Fig 4 — Sections of the Tomb 964 built long sides.
Crédits Drawings by Ch. Demetriou.
URL http://books.openedition.org/efa/docannexe/image/2946/img-4.png
Fichier image/png, 697k
Titre Fig 5 — Part of the ceramic assemblage from Tomb 964.
Crédits Photo by A. Athanasiou, Dpt. of Antiquities, Cyprus.
URL http://books.openedition.org/efa/docannexe/image/2946/img-5.png
Fichier image/png, 7,9M
Titre Fig.6 — a: scarab made of bone found in Tomb 964; b: scarab of quartz found in Tomb 964; c: iron sword found in Tomb 964; d: gold diadema with impressed decoration found in Tomb 964.
Crédits Photo by A. Athanasiou, Dpt. of Antiquities, Cyprus.
URL http://books.openedition.org/efa/docannexe/image/2946/img-6.png
Fichier image/png, 5,9M
Titre Fig 7 — Tomb 967. View from the west.
Crédits Photo by A. Athanasiou, Dpt. of Antiquities, Cyprus.
URL http://books.openedition.org/efa/docannexe/image/2946/img-7.png
Fichier image/png, 6,7M
Titre Fig. 8 — Sections of the Tomb 967 built long sides.
Crédits Drawings by G. Panteli, Dpt. of Antiquities, Cyprus.
URL http://books.openedition.org/efa/docannexe/image/2946/img-8.png
Fichier image/png, 1,3M
Titre Fig.9 — a: the roof of Tomb 967, made of flat stone slabs; b: the bench on the southern side of Tomb 967.
Crédits Dpt. of Antiquities, Cyprus.
URL http://books.openedition.org/efa/docannexe/image/2946/img-9.png
Fichier image/png, 6,9M
Titre Fig.10 — Part of the ceramic assemblage found in Tomb 967.
Crédits Photo by A. Athanasiou. Dpt. of Antiquities, Cyprus.
URL http://books.openedition.org/efa/docannexe/image/2946/img-10.png
Fichier image/png, 7,5M
Titre Fig.11 — a: iron Sword found in Tomb 967; b: iron dagger found in Tomb 967; c: iron knife found in Tomb 967.
Crédits Photo by A. Athanasiou, Dpt. of Antiquities, Cyprus.
URL http://books.openedition.org/efa/docannexe/image/2946/img-11.png
Fichier image/png, 7,4M
Titre Fig 12 — Plan of the excavated area at Loures.
Crédits Drawing by G. Panteli, Dpt. of Antiquities, Cyprus.
URL http://books.openedition.org/efa/docannexe/image/2946/img-12.png
Fichier image/png, 3,5M
Titre Fig 13 — Base of funerary stele found in situ and in conjunction with a circular structure.
Crédits Dpt. of Antiquities, Cyprus.
URL http://books.openedition.org/efa/docannexe/image/2946/img-13.png
Fichier image/png, 5,3M

© École française d’Athènes, 2018

Conditions d’utilisation : http://www.openedition.org/6540

Rechercher dans OpenEdition Search

Vous allez être redirigé vers OpenEdition Search