Excavations at Erimi-Laonin tou Porakou: 2009 Preliminary Report
The 2009 work season of the Italian Archaeological expedition to Erimi involved a team of archaeologists, drawers and topographers of the Universities of Florence, Turin and Chieti with a joint support of two restorers from the Soprintendenza Beni Archeologici. The work on field have been carried out on the site of Erimi-Laonin tou Porakou from August 17th to September 8th.
The site has been firstly identified in 2007 as a result of a complete survey of the Kouris Valley area addressed to outline the general patterns of the landscape use and the sequence of the ancient occupation in the valley area. The survey project carried out in 2007-2008, linking the study of the surface materials collections with a focus analysis of the cartography and the Satellite and aerial photographs on disposal within a Multilayers GIS-System, allowed the identification of 14 sites dated back from the Early-Middle Bronze Age to the Byzantine and Medieval period. The final chronological sequence of the identified sites within the surveyed area witnesses a relevant continuity in the occupation sequence and an interesting development within the relation patterns among the different sites of the valley (settlements, cemeteries, control points of the river and/or the inner valley road network).
In 2008 a deeper investigation of one of the identified sites has been planned. The site, located on the middle eastern slope of the river valley, lies on an high plateau facing southward the modern Kouris Dam, just on the border between Ypsonas and Erimi villages, namely corresponding to the area of Erimi-Laonin tou Porakou. Its position allows a good view on the river as well as the sea coast, suggesting a possible function as control point of the road network system within the valley. A focus investigation on the site (intensive survey, geo-perspections and trial trenches excavation) carried out during 2008 evidenced a double circuit wall system which surrounds the settlement, where a series of ramps and entrances have been evidenced. The settlement sequence within the site area hints to an occupation throughout two main phases. The first and most relevant one dated back to the Middle Bronze Age to Late Bronze Age I period; a second phase, apparently following a long-time hiatus, is related to a possible re-building of the outer circuit wall during the late-Hellenistic and Roman period.
The 2009 season of work has been addressed to the investigation of three areas of the site (Areas A, B, E).
1) The top mound (Area A) have been widely occupied by complex workshop, directly linked with a storage area. The natural limestone bedrock has been here carefully and worked in order to arrange a proper work place. The investigated area (which extends 12,5x15 m) revealed in fact an interesting workshop characterized by a series of rock-cut deep basins connected each other by a system of channels. Southward the workshop a large storage area has been discovered. The excavation allows to identify a wide area (27 mq) subdivided in two rooms which extends over the excavations limit of this year. It has been possible to identify two phases of use of this area (Phases A and B). Inside the main room of the storage area a large amount of vessels have been found, under the collapsed debris of the overall structures in stone and mudbricks. The room contained in this phase (Phase A) four big pithoi inserted within the floor of the storage and surrounded by a series of stones to properly arrange them; next to the pithoi a collection of smaller bowls, spouted juglets and medium size jars has been also discovered, all of them collapsed on the floor. We can hypothesize that the bowls and the other small vessels can be used to take out or to add substances to the main contents of the storage pithoi (as seems to hint the presence of a spouted juglet collapsed just on the inside bottom of one of the pithoi). Once removed the floor of the storage main room another level of burnt debris has been discovered, as a proof of a former phase of use of the same area (Phase B); from this level a rich amount of pottery related to collapsed vases has been collected. The ceramic assemblage of the storage clearly hints to a Red Polished ware production of Middle Bronze Age period. A close analysis of the ceramic assemblage of the two phases should offer good indications about the general dating of the sequence of use and the function of this relevant area.
2) The first lower terrace area (Area B) has been possibly occupied by the domestic quarter. An area of 19 mq. has been here investigated where the stone foundations of a building have been evidenced. On the inside floor a fire place has been identified; the collapse debris contained a large amount of Red Polished ware types, with a meaningful difference from the storage of Area A, as to the typological repertoire. Here the assemblage shows a clear prevalence of small types for food consumption (bowls, small jars mainly), suggesting the definition of a domestic area. It is otherwise of a peculiar interest the presence of a jug wall sherd with an incised pot-mark.
3) A small cemetery area (Area E) has been also evidenced outside the external circuit wall. In 2008 a series of three rock-cut tombs (Tombs 228-230) with small dromoi has been excavated. Two new tombs have been discovered this season (Tombs 231-232), located along a lower limestone terrace southward the modern road, which flanks the site area.
Both the graves, one next the other, has luckily not been looted; these two similarly show a cave-like chamber cut on the limestone rock without any incoming dromos. The tomb 231 is probably an adult inhumation, the smaller tomb 232 could be considered as an infant grave. As to the bigger 231 grave, the offering goods deposit collects 12 almost complete vessels (a wide assemblage which includes small and medium size bowls, juglets and jars, mainly with applied and incised decorative patterns), showing a standard repertoire of the Red Polished decorated pottery production. Furthermore, a series of 7 clay spindle-whorls with incised decoration as well as two picrolite incised disks have been found within the grave offerings. A similar ceramic repertoire come from the nearby smaller tomb 232, where nonetheless nor spindle-whorls and picrolite disks have been found.
The work on field have been carried out thanks to the scientific collaboration and the support of the Department of Antiquities of Cyprus, following the same positive cooperation stated in the last years with the Limassol Archaeological District Museum staff, and in particular with Mr. Y. Violaris.