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Excavations indicate ancient city near Larnaca Salt Lake was destroyed by catastrophe

One of the artefacts found at the site

Layers of ash and shattered architectural structures found at the Late Bronze Age site of Dromolaxia-Vizakia (Hala Sultan Tekke) near Larnaca’s Salt Lake indicated the area was destroyed possibly twice by catastrophic events, archaeologists have discovered.

Through the use of georadar, it was also discovered that the ancient city stretched much further out to the north than earlier thought and is estimated to be between 25 and 50 hectares, according to the antiquities department.

“Only a small portion of the city, the history of which goes back to the 16th century BC – or even earlier according to the ceramic remains – has so far been excavated. At around the mid-12th century BC the city was destroyed and abandoned, never to be reoccupied again,” the department said.

The latest expedition this year also exposed another hitherto unknown quarter to the city, made possible through the use of sophisticated ground penetrating radar and a magnetometer as part of a cooperative project between the University of Gothenburg and the University of Vienna, the team of the latter headed by Dr Immo Trinks.

The geophysical prospecting has been the third in a row of surveys which were carried out in 2010, 2012 and 2014.

The preliminary 2015 results suggest three phases of occupation of the site. The pottery of the uppermost two strata can be dated to the 12th century BC.

Some 13 radiocarbon samples from two strata showed there was only a difference of less than 50 calendar years between the most likely dates for the transition from Stratum 2 to Stratum 1.

“Thus, one may argue – based on radiocarbon – this transition must have occurred sometime during the second half of the 13th century BC, shortly after 1200 BC at the latest,” the department said.

“It became evident that both strata were destroyed by catastrophic events, as indicated by layers of ash and shattered architectural structures.”

It added that Stratum 2 was built on a layer of ash, suggesting that there had been an earlier catastrophic event, prior to the settlement, or the ash layer corresponds to the general catastrophe that occurred during Stratum 2 and that some structures were repaired immediately.

Finds from Stratum 2 include several lead sling bullets, alabaster vessels including an almost complete pilgrim flask, small quantities of Mycenaean-imported pottery and faience objects of obvious Egyptian origin.

A well/cistern, also excavated contained several complete vessels, a scarab of white paste depicting a bearded sphinx and hieroglyphic signs. The preliminary date of the scarab is the Egyptian 19 th Dynasty – roughly 13th-12th c. BC.

Amongst the faunal remains from the same well/cistern, were a large turtle and a violently killed dog. Another well from roughly the same period contained the remains of camel, cattle, and sheep and goat.

The 2015 excavations were carried out by a Swedish team, headed by Professor Peter M. Fischer (University of Gothenburg).

 

 



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