Cyprus Mail

Antiquities director warns against jumping to conclusions after Ptolemy claim

The area around the tomb

The director of the antiquities department, Marina Solomidou-Ieronymidou, said on Thursday she was not convinced that one of the tombs at the Tombs of the Kings area was that of a Ptolemy prince as the conclusion was not based on concrete evidence.

Earlier in the week, two researchers had announced at a Paphos conference that initial estimates linked a tomb at the Tombs of the Kings area, with that of a 12-year-old Ptolemy prince, who died in Cyprus in 150BC, and who was the dynasty’s co-regent at the time.

According to the experts – associate professor of ancient history at the University of Cyprus, Theodoros Mavroyiannis, and architect at the department of restoration of ancient monuments of the Greek ministry of culture, Michalis Lefatzis – the tomb is believed to belong to Ptolemy Eupator, the son of Ptolemy VI Philometor and Cleopatra II, who reigned for a short period as co-ruler with his father. He died not long after he had assumed the title, around 152BC.

The two experts said they based their conclusion on inscriptions and the fact that the tomb in question is different from the other tombs as it appears to have been built, probably for a deified king.

For Ieronymidou, the announcement came as a surprise, as the antiquities department was not informed of the research carried out at the tomb but also because other research on the same tomb, extracted different conclusions.

“We were very surprised to hear this because based on scientific ethics, any researcher ought to come to the antiquities department and express interest to study the object in question,” Ieronymidou told state broadcaster CyBC.

“This is a very important tomb within the enormous complex of the Tombs of the Kings”.

She added that the tomb in question – tomb number 8 at the archaeological site – was unearthed during excavations between 1970 and 1980 by the then head of the antiquities department Sofoklis Hadjisavvas. Hadjisavvas, she said, has been collecting material and used the archaeological data collected from the tomb for his own research which is to be published soon, and whose conclusions are different from those announced recently.

“Hadjisavvas is to publish his own research based on the actual data concerning the tomb, and not on other theories based on inscriptions,” Ieronymidou said.

She added that she respects the research the two professors made but that it was not an integrated one.

“For such an announcement to be made, that the tomb in question belonged to a specific person, there must be archaeological evidence to back this. Their evidence is based on fragments of an inscription as far as I understand. This is not enough. An integrated research should be made based on excavation data to be able to provide a name,” she said.

“We archaeologists, can only assume, if there is no inscription on the tomb saying what an object was or referring to Ptolemy Eupator. How can you prove it? I am not convinced?” Ieronymidou said.

Ieronymidou also refuted claims made that the Tombs of the Kings archaeological site was neglected and that it was not properly fenced.

She added that the site – which spans in 200,000 square metres and is the third most popular archaeological site on the island in terms of visitors –  is fenced and that it is in a very good condition.

“No archaeological site is guarded 24-7”.





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