Nea Paphos dig provides information on ancient city

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Archaeological investigations at the precinct of the ancient Hellenistic-Roman theatre of Nea Paphos, in the southwest coast of Cyprus, which concentrated on the edges and to the south of the theatre, resulted to the identification of substantial structures of the ancient city. 

Excavations at Nea Paphos [Credit: PCMA]

According to an official announcement, the Department of Antiquities of the Ministry of Communications and Works announced the completion of the archaeological investigations at the site. The investigations took place between October 6 and November 17, 2010, by the University of Sydney and under the direction of Emeritus Professor Richard Green, Dr Craig Barker and Dr Smadar Gabrieli. 

The archaeological investigations aimed largely in exploring the relationship between the building and the city’s urban infrastructure, and, to this end, a ground penetrating radar (GPR) survey was employed, to record a large area to the south of the theatre. 

It is added that a number of substantial structures were identified, but the damage as a result of earthquakes meant it was difficult to detect the precise outline of the ancient city. 

It is also noted that excavations continued to the south east of the theatre, where a long narrow building, deemed to be a Roman water fountain house or a ‘nympaeum’, has been excavated in recent years. 

Moreover, a limestone paved Roman road was cleared by the team, beginning from the southern edge of the nympaheum, and which, according to the announcement, would have been one of the major thoroughfares for the city and for pedestrian traffic flowing into the theatre. It is added that the team was able to reveal two wheel ruts in the section of the road. 

Excavations in the western entranceway of the theatre, or ‘parodos’, have exposed part of the edge of a deep bedrock quarry that had probably provided stone for the original phases of the theatre, as well as barrier walls whose function was to hold in place the soil that was built up for the artificial banking for the seating of the theatre. 

The team, it is added, has also excavated a geometric mosaic, probably dating to the 5th century AD, which, if accurate, may provide some insight into the post-theatre activity on the site. 

Work was also completed on the cataloguing of medieval finds from a well on the site, believed to be the rubble and debris from a devastating earthquake of 1303 AD. Future excavations will continue in the south of the theatre, and may reveal more of the road surface, and the outline of the ancient city, the announcement concludes. 

Source: Famagousta Gazette [June 17, 2011]

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