Excavations at Erimi-Laonin tou Porakou: 2012 Preliminary Report
The 2012 fieldwork season undertaken by the Italian Archaeological Mission at Erimi have been carried out on the site of Erimi-Laonin tou Porakou from April 1st to April 28th.
The achieved results allowed to confirm the Bronze Age settlement sequence evidenced within the site area, which hints at an occupation throughout two main phases (Phases A and B) ranging from the end of the Early to the very beginning of Late Bronze Age period (EC II/III-LC I).
The site area of Erimi-Laonin tou Porakou lies on an high plateau on the eastern river bank facing southward the Kouris Dam, just on the border between Ypsonas and Erimi villages. The Bronze Age settlement covers an average area of 1,5 hectares and was organized into three main discrete areas, displaced on sloping terraces and distinguished as to the primary use and function. The top of the mound was largely occupied by a huge workshop and industrial area (Area A), the first lower terrace by domestic units of a residential quarter (Area B), while terraces sloping towards the South were occupied by a cemetery area (Area E). The recent rescue-excavations carried out by the colleagues of the Department of Antiquities of Cyprus in the area of Ypsonas-Vounaros (about 400 m. northward the top of the mound) revealed three new and partially looted graves pertaining to the same chronological horizon of the ones excavated during the last years within the southern Area E. This new evidence points to the presence of two distinct tombs clusters (a Southern and a Northern cemetery) related to the Bronze Age settlement of Erimi-Laonin tou Porakou.
As far as the 2012 fieldwork season is concerned, the main focus was upon the investigation of the top mound area (Area A), where the wide Workshop Complex is located. The excavations confirmed the relevance and extension of the Workshop Complex, which extends over the 20 x 20m area currently under investigation (FIG. 1). The extent of this complex, which highlights peculiar spatial organization and work installations on display seems to indicate the existence of some form of industrial activity (possibly weaving and textile dyeing, as also suggested by the results of the analyses carried out on plants residues from the soil filling, sampled from structures and ceramic vessels).
The aim of the planned investigation was double: to clarify features and chronology of the earlier Phase B on an extended area, and to verify the outline and general design of the Complex.
As to the first aim, the stratigraphic deposit pertaining to the earlier Phase B levels of the Storage Area I (SA I) was completely detected, in order to obtain a stable sequence of occupation within a single and well preserved context.
The investigated area (9,50 x 5,60 m.) revealed a general continuity as to the use and function, even though several interesting elements of change have been recorded too, as to the space organization as well as to the architectural devices and building technique. In fact, the Storage Area I, which will be sub-divided into three spaces by an inner division wall during the former Phase A, is actually displayed as a single room characterized by a much more dense space exploitation during the earlier Phase B.
A series of installations were directly carved into the plaster floor of this Phase (US 461), or directly built on it, thus hinting to a multi-functional room. Rounded basins of different depths were displaced flanking the western limit wall of the area (US -471, -475, -495), the emplacement of a big-sized jar flanks the opposite Eastern limit wall, while two bigger installations occupy the central area of the room: the circular hearth US 469 (diameter 1,25 m.) and the rectangular basin US -480 (1,00x0,90 m.), connected with the deep rounded basin US -462. The inner space organization suggests that the original entrance door might have been located through the southern limit wall, likewise the following Phase A, when the wall was re-built on a bigger structure including a new huge stone entrance block, equipped with door-socket pivot and a step to access the room.
It is interesting to stress out that all the installations pertaining to the earlier Phase B were realized using clay and plaster as main building material, thus marking a clear distinction with the installations of the former Phase A, which are differently steadily characterized by the wide use of stone as basic construction material (raw and squared blocks, slabs, etc...).
Hence, both the evolution within the general organization of the inner space and the use of new building techniques suggests a distinctive process, which leads to a more clear functional definition of the spaces (from a multi-functional space to a possible more defined use as storage area), and a parallel development of a more “monumental” architecture within the Workshop Complex.
The second purpose, as mentioned above, corresponded to the clarification of the general design of the Workshop Complex. With this aim, an extended area of 10 m. towards the West has been investigated.
Three new rooms (SA III, SA IV, SA V) were exposed, which extend in parallel towards the West of the previously investigated Storage areas SA I and SA II. The excavation revealed the complete extension of the Storage Area SA III, which covers a wide surface of 5,45 x 4,70 m., while SA IV and V still extend over the actual western limit of the investigated area.
The ceramic assemblage of the two Phases clearly hints to a typical production of the South Coast horizon of the Early to Late Bronze Age I period , with a large percentage attestation of Red-Polished and less attested Drab-Polished ware. Furthermore, a collection of stone tools, clay spindle-whorls with incised decoration and loom-weights have been documented, thus supporting the functional interpretation of the Workshop Complex, as an area mainly dedicated to textiles activities.
The field works have been carried out thanks to the scientific collaboration of the Department of Antiquities of Cyprus, thanks to the positive collaboration with the Direction and the Limassol Archaeological District Museum staff.