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New finds at Yeronisos island

ARCHAEOLOGISTS have just completed five weeks of digging at Yeronisos island off the coast of Peyia, the Antiquities Department announced on Monday.

Drinking cups, bowls, juglets, lagynoi and plates in Eastern sigillata A, Cypriot Sigillata, and local Pink Powdery Ware have been unearthed within small rooms where ritual dining appears to have taken place during the final years of Ptolemaic Egyptian rule on Cyprus, the department said.

“Professor Jolanta Mlynarczyk of the University of Warsaw continued her study of the Yeronisos ceramics, a fascinating assemblage of imported and local fine and course ware pottery dating to the 1st century BC,” it added.

Yeronisos is a small island off the Paphos coast, opposite Ayios Georgios tis Peyeias. This year’s expedition was led by the New York University Yeronisos Island Expedition under the direction of Professor Joan Breton Connelly.

Extensive evidence for monumental ashlar walls was revealed in a series of gypsum mortar setting beds for large stone blocks, most likely robbed out during the Early Byzantine period (6th-7th century AD) for construction of the Christian basilicas across the way at Agios Georgios, the Antiquities Department said.

“Architectural discoveries made this season join those from earlier years to give an idea of just how much of the original surface of Yeronisos has been lost to wind and sea erosion, undercutting the cliffs and causing widespread collapse of the island’s perimeter. Beddings for large walls end abruptly where the cliff faces have fallen away,” it added.

A series of huge pithoi was recovered along the southern edge of the island in an area where similar large vessels were found in earlier seasons.

Joins have been made between fragments recovered this year and pithos fragments unearthed in 2009 and 2010. These vast storage jars were probably used to collect much-needed rainwater for drinking on the island as Yeronisos lacks a natural water source.

Dr Paul Croft of the Lemba Archaeological Field Unit supervised excavations in the central south sector where a fine Hellenistic silt floor was unearthed. Quantities of Hellenistic bowls, jugs, and casseroles as well as amphorae fragments were found there resting upon it. The floor was disturbed by a large robbing trench cut through for removing Hellenistic ashlar wall blocks in the Early Byzantine period.

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