The major finds collected from AAP’s sites at Malloura and Mağara Tepeşi include large numbers of limestone statuary ranging in size from a few centimeters to over life-size; Cypro-Archaic and Cypro-Classical terracotta figurines of helmeted warriors, chariots and animals; large amounts of decorated and plain pottery; other limestone objects (e.g., incense burners, shovels, disks); gold, silver and bronze coins; ceramic lamps; and a few bronze and iron artifacts. Below are a few of the most significant pieces from our catalogue of nearly 4,500 excavated items.
Limestone Sculpture The ongoing excavations in the Malloura Valley by AAP remain critical for a more nuanced understanding of the artistic and even socio-political significance of regional exchange in the area.
To date, our excavations have yielded a corpus of more than 2,000 fragments of limestone sculpture, making it one of the largest caches of sculpture unearthed in the last 50 years. Though occasionally imported, marble is not found on Cyprus, thus limestone (sourced from quarries in the area) was the principal sculptural stone used in antiquity on the island. The AAP corpus has clear affinities with other sculptural assemblages from the Athienou region (especially ancient Golgoi, located northeast of the modern town) and beyond. As such, it offers a unique opportunity to bring some order to the vast and rather disparate data relative to an “Athienou School” and provides a starting point for sketching a more complete picture of regional styles in Cypriot sculpture. Commonly unearthed are numerous sculpted heads, votive statuary fragments (torsos, hands, feet, &c.) and several over-life-size statue pieces. The illustration below includes some of the common types (e.g., heads with rosette diadems, conical caps, and vegetal wreaths) and attests to the artistic sophistication of local sculptors.
For more specific information on AAP limestone sculpture, see Counts, D. “Local Styles and Regional Trends in Cypriot Limestone Sculpture,” Chapter 11 in Crossroads and Boundaries, 2011 (149–162).
Terracotta Figurines Dedicating votive gifts to deities was an integral part of most ancient Mediterranean religious systems. These objects, often displayed in sanctuaries for generations, enhanced the sacred space through the repetition of religious imagery that created and affirmed socio-religious traditions and values. Terracotta figurines were among the most popular votive offerings in Crete and the Near East and those of ancient Malloura reflect regional trends as well as local cult and society. These objects, direct results of a cultic gesture whose primary motivation was communication with the divine, aid considerably in the reconstruction of ancient belief systems and practices. More than 600 figurines and figurine fragments (handmade, wheel-made and mold-made) have so far been unearthed. Warriors, animals and chariot groups are among the most popular types identified; masked figurers and deities have also been discovered.
For more specific information on AAP terracottas, see Averett, E.W. “The Ritual Context of the Malloura Terracotta Figurines,” Chapter 10 in Crossroads and Boundaries, 2011 (133–147).
Pottery Ceramic evidence in the form of commonware and fineware plates, jugs, storage, and cooking pots are critical to the project’s investigations into the chronology of settlement and social, as well as ritual, activity in the Malloura Valley. Three main phases documented in the ceramic assemblage retrieved from the Malloura sanctuary are Cypro-Geometric II (ca. 900–750 BC), Cypro-Archaic II (ca. 600–480 BC), and Cypro-Classical II–Hellenistic I (fourth–third centuries BC). They represent three successive stages in a continuous history that left differentiated prints in the soil: the first period, the sanctuary’s foundation; the second, its first floruit; the third, its greatest development and major architectural extension. Moreover, the three main ceramic phases apparent to the ceramicist’s eye may reflect minor topographical shifts in the sanctuary occupation; the major part of the excavated area comprises only levels dating to the last phase, whereas the most ancient layers are confined to the westernmost part of the area, in restricted zones apparently left untouched by later occupation.
At Mağara Tepeşı, the discovery of Hellenistic finewares such as color-coated skyphoi, incurved-rim bowls, lagynoi, and lamps as well as Roman sigillata plates and molded lamps have provided a chronology for the tombs and shed light on possible funerary rituals.
The surface pottery gathered during the course of the AAP survey included 2,741 ceramic artifacts collected by field walkers while investigating a 13.5 km2 area. Overall, the survey ceramics have yielded several key pieces of data about the human occupation of the Malloura Valley. First, the range of ceramic material is fairly uniform within each period with only a limited number of wares present. Second, some of the more commonwares discovered at other sites on Cyprus were not found during the survey. Third, relatively few sherds that could be identified as imported wares were identified and finally, the Malloura Valley appears to have been continually inhabited from antiquity to the present.
For more information on AAP sanctuary pottery, see Fourrier, S. “Pots for Goods and for Gods: The Iron Age Pottery from the Sanctuary at Malloura,” Chapter 9 in Crossroads and Boundaries, 2011 (125–132).
Terracotta Lamps One artifact type that provides a unique insight into the chronology of settlement as well ancient social practices and cultural connections in the Malloura Valley is terracotta lamps. Lamps have been discovered by the AAP in large numbers at both the Mağara Tepeşı necropolis as well as the Malloura sanctuary. The first open-form “saucer” lamps date to Archaic and Classical times; however, these are soon succeeded by closed-form, wheel-made, “watch-faced” lamps. Mold-made lamps appear in mid-Hellenistic times and become the norm during the Roman period. These mass-produced, Roman-era products are commonly of a buff pink fabric, are regularly unslipped, and the majority have undecorated disci. The most fascinating Roman lamp from the AAP excavations (AAP-AM 362) is an intact lamp with a rosette discus (Vessberg Type 13; Loeschke Type VIII); a signature on its base reveals that it was probably made by the Roman lamp maker “Romanesis” in Knidos in Asia Minor. Overall, the ancient lamps from the Malloura Valley provide additional evidence for an occupation from Archaic through Hellenistic times, illustrate that lamps were used in ritual activity at both the tombs and the sanctuary, and reveal connections between the valley and the greater eastern Mediterranean world.
For more specific information on AAP terracotta lamps, see Gordon, J.M. “Lux Aeterna: The Terracotta Lamps from the Hellenistic and Roman Tombs at Athienou-Mağara Tepeşı,” Chapter 14 in Crossroads and Boundaries, 2011 (191–202). For the “Romanesis” lamp from Mağara Tepeşı, see Gordon, J.M. and E. Cova “Romanesis in Cyprus: A Lamp from Athienou-Malloura,” in Cahiers du Centre d’Études Chypriotes 40, 2010 (277-94).
Coins, Jewelry and other Metal Objects The procurement, processing, and use of metals —including copper in particular—has played a fundamental role in the long-term development of culture and society in Cyprus. Thus the AAP’s discovery of a several metal object types sheds light on the Malloura Valley’s integration into both island-wide and external resource networks, and how metals could be used for a variety of economic, ritual, and social practices.
Bronze coins have been discovered at the Malloura sanctuary and especially in the tombs at Mağara Tepeşı. The majority of these coins were minted in Cyprus (although Alexandrian and Judaean issues are also present) by either the Ptolemaic or Roman empires. The coins therefore reinforce the sanctuary’s and necropolis’ chronologies and indicate that they were purposefully deposited in the tombs as part of funerary rituals. In addition to Hellenistic and Roman coins, Early Byzantine (including two gold solidi from Constantinople) and Lusignan coins have also been found in the vicinity of the Late Roman settlement. Evidently, the inhabitants of the Malloura were involved in economic transactions requiring the frequent exchange of legal tender coins, all of which were minted far outside of the valley.
The tombs at Mağara Tepeşı have yielded some exquisite examples of Hellenistic and Roman beaded jewelry. Most impressive is an opulent, chain-link necklace made of solid gold hoops interspersed with carnelian spacers that was found in Tomb 27 (AAP-AM-279). Other items of gold jewelry discovered at the tombs include a gold and onyx finger ring with an intaglio image, which may either illustrate deities or perhaps theatrical masks (AAP-AM-162), as well as a pair of hoop earrings (AAP-AM-0080). These finds show that at least some people buried at Mağara Tepeşı had access to deluxe, imported metals, and sought to show them off even in death.
Besides, coins and jewelry, more utilitarian metal objects have also been recovered by the AAP at both Malloura and Mağara Tepeşı. These objects include metal vessels, blades, nails, pins, hooks, and strigils made of copper, bronze, and especially, iron, which were probably used in quotidian social and ritual practices.
Inscriptions Since 1990, excavation and survey by AAP have provided a small corpus of inscribed objects, which are associated primarily with the open-air, rural sanctuary. The majority of the inscriptions can be dated from the Cypro-Archaic to the Hellenistic period, with few examples ranging from the Roman to the modern period. With the exception of a Roman lamp signed in Latin (attributed to the Romanesis workshop in the eastern Mediterranean; see above under ‘Lamps’), Greek appears to be the only language represented, written in both the Cypro-syllabic script and the Greek alphabet. The inscriptions are all incised (vs. painted), and most come from ceramic vessel fragments, such as the example below written in Cypro-syllabic in the Greek language that reads “in good fortune”. A partial inscription found on a limestone ash shovel (AAP-AM-2518) presents the formula “I am” (ἠμί/εἰμί) followed by what appears to be the genitive of a personal name reads. Although modest in size, the corpus reveals important evidence for various forms of ritual activity within the Malloura Valley, as well as reflects broader local and regional connections in Cyprus and the eastern Mediterranean.
For more information on AAP epigraphic evidence, see Cova, E. “Writing from Unknown Hands” Chapter 13 in Crossroads and Boundaries, 2011 (179–190).