Archaeologists working at Kourion in Limassol this year have established that a large building being excavated, which looks to have collapsed during a massive earthquake in the 4th century AD, could either have been an elite residence or a public building.
Its full size, construction and history remain unknown, however, the department said.
The building may have been two stories high, the statement said, adding that the floor plan was not yet complete and was awaiting further investigation.
“Massive blocks thrown down by the earthquake cover the floors of the building. The power of the tremor is indicated by the distortions of the walls and the movement of the heavy ashlar masonry,” it added.
The collapsed house was also found to be rich in material cultural remains.
The team recovered additional fragments of a large imported glass plate 60cm-plus in diameter, that had been discovered in 2014.
The plate was formed from bundles of hollow yellow glass canes which were fused together in a dark green matrix.
The plates were crafted in Egypt, and are usually found in Coptic cemeteries.
“The Kourion plate provides what may be the best dated example in the world,” the statement said.
Additional Egyptian connections were suggested by the presence of a restorable amphora of Egyptian style, recovered from near the floor of what the team interpreted to be a kitchen area.
“The wealth of this ancient household is indicated by a large elegant room with a mosaic floor, marble panelling and painted wall plaster,” it said.
Ceramic analysis by the KUSP team, including Dr Scott Moore of Indiana University, Pennsylvania, indicated a mid-4th century date for the tragedy.
This has been supported by the numismatic analysis of the coins from the building by the KUSP numismatist, Dr Paul Keen of the University of Massachusetts (Lowell), the antiquities department said.
The 2016 excavation season of the Kourion Urban Space Project (KUSP) was carried out under the direction of Dr Thomas W Davis of the Tandy Institute for Archaeology at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth Texas, US. Davis was formerly the Director of the Cyprus American Archaeological Research Institute in Nicosia.
This was KUSP’s second field season in investigating the collapsed building, part of a long-term archaeological investigation at Kourion.
KUSP partners include the Australian Institute of Archaeology, the University of Cyprus, the Cyprus Technical University and the Western Sovereign Base Area Archaeology Society. Students from the seminary were joined by students and volunteers from the consortium partners and from the University of Cincinnati (USA), Arizona State University (ASU), Boston University, and the University of Chester (UK). More than 20 local volunteers also assisted in the excavation of the site and the processing of the material remains.