The Cyprus Expedition

By: G. H. McF.

Originally Published in 1935

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The Museum’s Excavations in Cyprus were resumed in the spring of 1934. The site chosen by Mr. B. H. Hill, the field-director, was ancient Curium. Mr. George H. McFadden, a Research Associate of the Museum, presents the following preliminary report of the undertaking, which it is believed will be actively continued in the years ahead.

THE excavations at Cyprus under Mr. B. H. Hill this year began about the twentieth of May on the new site of Curium, some twelve miles west of Limasol. At the start we found surprisingly little on the surface, but the site commanded an ideal situation for a city. It is high on a bluff overlooking the sea immediately below to the south. On the east the bluff falls sheer into a broad plain. On the north it is protected by a steep valley. The only approach to this naturally fortified and very beautiful site is from the west. Here we found later some of the walls of the ancient town almost two and a half meters thick.

Men excavating a trench full of stone walls
Plate IV — Cyprus Expedition: 1934
Viewo of a trench at Curium

A six-week campaign is not a long one, but we were fortunate enough to be able to do a good deal in a short time. By the twentieth of June we had sunk eight trenches. In the first trench we uncovered walls some seventy centimeters thick, which are apparently going to prove to be part of an early Roman basilica. They rest, however, like other early Roman remains which we have found, on earlier Greek foundations. The trench goes down to a depth of over five meters. One of the trenches reaches a depth of six to seven meters. The stratification is excellent, as in all the trenches. In another trench we uncovered a street with a row of houses, one of which has two floors with a stone stair-case leading upward.

There appear to have been at least two settlements: the one early Roman, the other mainly Hellenistic and not later. Mr. Hill was very encouraged to find just under the northern limits of the site some very well built walls belonging to the fifth century B. C. Among the Roman remains a good quantity of plaster has been found, with frescoes not unlike those at Pompeii. Among the sherds we have come upon a few examples of very fine Attic Red-Figured vases. There is Geometric pottery, too, on the site, and this is encouraging as we can hope to come upon an earlier settlement in the vicinity. There is an ancient tradition that the first Greeks to settle the island came to Curium, and there is a chance we may find their settlement on one of the neighboring hills. Both the settlements which we have found, Greek and Roman, met with sudden catastrophes due to earthquakes, which are not infrequent in the island. In one of the rooms of a house which has part of the second floor preserved in the walls, we found two skeletons, of a man and a woman, entangled in such a way as to suggest a Romeo and Juliet tragedy. On the girl’s finger was a bronze and quite a lovely gold ring.

Toward the middle of June, in the plain below and east of the site, we dug a number of Geometric tombs. Hardly any of these had been touched. We found a considerable quantity of unbroken pottery much like that which Mr. Hill found at Lapithos three years ago on the northern coast of the island. This is illustrated in the December 1932 Bulletin, Plate VI. Some of the pottery we found is sub-Mycenaean and belongs to the ninth or tenth century B. C. A few of the most interesting finds in the British Museum at Nicosia come from this field in the plain of Curium, including two bronze tripods and a gold scepter.

G. H. McF.

Cite This Article

McF., G. H.. "The Cyprus Expedition." Museum Bulletin V, no. 4 (January, 1935): 11-13. Accessed July 15, 2024.

This digitized article is presented here as a historical reference and may not reflect the current views of the Penn Museum.

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