A large vase depicting a woman clothed in a sophisticated long dress of Minoan fashion and an intact bronze dagger were among some rare finds excavated during the latest dig at the Late Bronze Age site of Dromolaxia-Vizakia near the Hala Sultan Tekke in Larnaca, the antiquities department has said.
The Swedish-led expedition, headed by Professor Peter M Fischer from the University of Gothenburg, during May and June, found scores of artefacts including around 70 complete pottery vessels, wheel-made spindle bottles and bowls and numerous Mycenaean imports.
Amongst the latter was a jug dated to roughly the 15th century BC which would make it one of the earliest Mycenaean imports to Cyprus, the antiquities department said.
Other finds included jewellery, such as earrings, a decorated headband and numerous beads. Amongst several scarabs were two mounted in a metal frame one of which has white inlays for the eyes which is very rare. This scarab is incised with the hieroglyphic signs “men-chepher-re” together with the image of a pharaoh to the left. The excavated pit, “turned out to be a very rich, possibly family, tomb”.
“Based on the pottery, the life span of this Late Bronze Age city was from roughly 1600 BC to 1150 BC,” the department said, adding that around the mid-12th century BC the city was destroyed and abandoned, “never to be occupied again”.
The finds indicated that both occupational phases of the city had ended with catastrophic events as indicated by layers of ash and shattered architectural structures.
In an interview with Israel’s Haaretz newspaper published on Wednesday, lead archaeologist Fischer said the 3,500-year-old grave was one of the grandest burial sites from the Late Bronze Age ever found in Cyprus.
“The grave is a family tomb for eight children ages 5–10 years and nine adults, of whom the oldest was about 40 years old. The life expectancy was much shorter back then than it is today,” Fischer told the newspaper.
The find appears to indicate that the family had been important and wealthy, but Fischer said that although the grave was found, where they might have dwelt in the city has not been uncovered yet.
“It is most likely located closer to the burial site in an area that still has not been explored,” he added.
The objects also testified to the importance of Cyprus has a trading hub as many appeared to originate from various other cultures.
“Other discoveries include gemstones and five cylinder seals, some produced locally and some possibly from Syria and Mesopotamia, and a bronze dagger,” Fischer said. A large number of the vessels had come from Greece, the Levant and even Anatolia.
The complete ceramic vessels. It added were “spectacularly decorated” with such scenes as people sitting in a chariot drawn by two horses, “and a woman wearing a beautiful dress”. Some vases bore religious symbols or animal illustrations such as fish.
“The pottery carries a lot of archaeological information. There were for example high-class Mycenaean imports, pottery from Greece, dated to the 15th century BCE. The motif of the woman, possibly a goddess, is Minoan, which means it is from Crete, but the vase was manufactured in Greece. Back in those days, Crete was becoming a Greek ‘colony’,” Fischer told Haaretz.
According to Fischer, the painting of the woman’s dress was highly advanced and showed how wealthy women dressed around this time. The scarabs indicate Egyptian origins with one inscription linked to Egypt’s most powerful pharaoh Thutmosis III (1479–1425 BCE), the article said.
“We also found evidence in the city of large-scale manufacturing and purple-dying of textiles. These products were used in the trade with the high cultures in Egypt, Anatolia, the Levant, Mesopotamia, Crete and Greece, which explain the rich imported finds,” Fischer said.
The excavations will continue next year.