Cypriot archaeology day hits Toronto this Sunday

Cyprus that great crossroads of the ancient world is going to be the focus of a special event happening this Sunday at the Royal Ontario Museum in Toronto Canada.

Five archaeologists will give talks about their research and how it is changing our understanding of the island. Heritage Key will be at the event and will publish reports.

Cyprus was truly a crossroads of the ancient world. Greeks, Phoenicians, Egyptians, Romans and the Sea People all left their mark on the island. They did it by way of trade, migration, settlement and conquest.

Just a month ago Heritage Key reported that cypro-minoan an ancient and un-deciphered language, which was used on the island 3,000 years ago was found in Dark Age Tayinat a site in south-eastern Turkey! It was likely left by a group of Aegean migrants who may have passed by Cyprus on their way to Tayinat.

Now, Tayinat willnot be discussed at this event but a lot of other research will.

A few things I want to highlight:

– Dr. Joanna Smith, of Princeton University, has just released a book that examines the importance of the Cypriot port of Kition from 1300 BC onwards. It was located on the south-east coast of the island and flourished at a time of great change in the ancient world.

It saw the onset of the Dark Age period,discussed in the Tayinat article, as well as an expansion of the seagoing Phoenician culture. Its strategic position made it a good place for ancient commerce.

Her talk is titled Cyprus, the Phoenicians and Kition, so we can expect to hear more about her work.

-Dr. Lindy Crewe, of Manchester University Museum, has been doing work at the site of Kissonerga Skalia on the west side of the island. This site dates from the Early and Middle Cypriot Bronze Age (2400-1650 BC). Its the only site on the west site of the island that dates to this time-frame.

Her talk is titled Traditions and innovations: Cypriot Middle Bronze Age Identities. Its an ambiguous title and there are no abstracts for any of the talks. But I think its safe to say that we will be hearing a fair bit about Kissonerga Skalia.

-Another speaker who is travelling a long way to speak in Toronto is Dr. Despo Pilides of the Department of Antiquities, Cyprus. Dr. Pilides conducted excavation at the Hill of Agios Georgios, Nicosia.

The site was occupied from the Archaic period (early 1st millennium BC) through Medieval times.It is noted for the sheer number of burials found 186 (!) according to a recent conference paper.

Pilides talk is titled, Excavations at the Hill of Agios Georgios, Nicosia so it sounds like a broadrange of the team’s finds will be discussed.

-If you want toorientyourself, before the talks start, the ROM has a 300 piece gallery of Cypriot artefacts. The artefacts on display range in time from 2200 to 30 BC. One section of the gallery is called Cyprus and Commerce andhighlights the role of copper in Cyprus history. It includes a bronze relief sculpture of a man carrying a large copper ingot a very rare find according to the museum.

The gallery also features sections on limestone Cypriot sculptures, pottery, Cyprusin the timeofAlexander the Great and the Hellenization of the island that occurred around 1200 BC.

Not a bad way to get your mind focussed before a day of talks!

The schedule is posted below.

All lectures take place at the ROM theatre. Its free with a museum admission or ROM membership.

  • 1:10 pm – Tracking Early Colonists in Cyprus – Dr. Sarah Stewart, Trent University
  • 1:50 pm – Traditions and innovations: Cypriot Middle Bronze Age Identities – Dr. Lindy Crewe, Manchester University Museum
  • 2:30 pm – When did the Greeks first come to Cyprus? – Dr. Dimitri Nakassis, University of Toronto
  • 3:10 pm – Coffee break
  • 3:40 pm – Cyprus, the Phoenicians and Kition – Dr. Joanna Smith, Princeton University
  • 4:20 pm – Excavations at the Hill of Agios Georgios, Nicosia – Dr. Despo Pilides, Department of Antiquities, Cyprus