President Nicos Anastasiades on Thursday presented the archaeological mission of the University of Lyon with the medal of the Grand Commander of the Order of Merit of the Republic of Cyprus for their excavations at the ancient city of Salamis.
The site of Salamis, on the eastern coast of Cyprus, now under Turkish occupation, is of vast archaeological importance because of the finds of the royal necropolis excavated between 1952 and 1974.
The award was presented to Marguerite Yon, head of the mission.
Addressing the ceremony, Anastasiades said the award is given to honour the mission for its contribution in bringing to light the hidden wonders of Cyprus` civilization, which is part of world culture and heritage.
The president added that Cypriot culture is currently the subject of study and research in major universities and other academic institutions worldwide, which makes this island very proud.
Of the archaeological mission of the University of Lyon, he said that it arrived on the island fifty years ago and conducted excavations, with the collaboration and cooperation of the Antiquities Department until the Turkish invasion of the island in the summer of 1974.
In her address Marguerite Yon said that the mission feels Cypriot at heart, adding that it carried on its excavations until 1974 when it was forced to abandon the site.
The mission had asked permission to recover their diaries and archives, stored in a small house near Salamis, but this was denied. Turkey said these were “trophies of war.”
She added that the cooperation with Cypriot archaeologists continued with excavations at other sites on the island which has a special place in their hearts.
Yon added that her greatest hope is for a solution to be found in Cyprus so that the archaeological research can resume in ancient Salamis.