Read the full article here.
The Paphos Theatre Archaeological Project's 2023 season was recently featured in the Greek Herald.
Read the full article here.
A Royal Box: Report on the 2023 Season of Excavations at the ancient theatre of Paphos in Cyprus
The Australian archaeological Mission to Paphos conducted it’s twentieth season of excavation and first since the pandemic at the World Heritage listed site of the ancient theatre of Paphos and surrounding environs in April and May 2023 under the auspices of the Department of Antiquities of Cyprus. The Paphos Theatre Archaeological Project team was made up of archaeologists and students from the University of Sydney and the University of New England in Australia, under the direction of Dr Craig Barker, of the Chau Chak Wing Museum at the University of Sydney.
The Australian team have been working at the theatre site, cut into Fabrika hill in Kato Paphos, since 1995 and over those years have carefully revealed the remains of the oldest permanent theatre in Cyprus, constructed in c. 300 BC and used as a performance venue until its destruction by earthquake in the fourth century AD. The team has also revealed considerable Roman urban infrastructure near the theatre, including a paved Roman road and a nymphaeum (water fountain) to the south of the theatre, as well as agricultural, domestic and industrial activities on the site long after it’s abandonment as a theatre in the medieval and later periods.
The 2023 season opened trenches in three areas of the site. On the remains of the ancient cavea (seating area), the team cleared the bedrock foundation cuts of a Roman era Royal Box. Measuring 6 metres in length and up to 2.85 metres wide, the back bedrock cut wall surviving to a height of 0.85 metres, which was presumably covered with a marble or painted fresco façade that has not survived. ‘Royal boxes’ were areas for dignitaries placed centrally in theatre seating areas and were designed to provide shade and areas of comfort for important guests. They are known in Roman theatres on ancient sites such as Pergamon, Hierapolis and Herodium. This will prove to be the first published example of this architectural feature on any of the ancient theatres of Cyprus.
Work continued on the area behind the theatre on the top of Fabrika hill, where excavations continued on a large medieval and post-medieval building that now measures more than 20 metres in length and over 25 metres wide. Long bedrock cut walls with substantial stone blocks used as foundations reveal a building with two long rooms at ground level, and side rooms. The building is presumed to be more than a single story, which indicates that this structure was an important feature of late medieval and Venetian Paphos. The finds will be analysed and published soon. The structure was built over top of a section of the early Christian cemetery on Fabrika which has been previously revealed by our colleagues from Université d’Avignon and the University of Warsaw.
The third area of archaeological investigation was due south of the theatre and designed to investigate the alignment of east-west running Roman roads within urban Nea Paphos. During a previous Ground Penetrating Radar (GPR) survey the team had previously identified a large anomaly 4.1x7.6m. Excavation this year took place in this area almost 70 metres south of the paved Roman road at the theatre. The trench failed to identify this anomaly but did reveal two phases of architecture (probably medieval and Ottoman) and two occupation and accumulation phases above a Roman phase that may indicate the remains of the road were robbed away. This will be investigated further in future. The Australian Mission wishes to acknowledge the generous support of our colleagues in Department of Antiquities of Cyprus for our ongoing work in Paphos. The site is currently undergoing conservation work by the Department’s team of experts. 2023 is also the 50th anniversary of diplomatic relations between Australia and Cyprus and the project was proud to work with the Australian High Commission to assist in the recognition of this important anniversary.
1. Excavations on Fabrika in Paphos
2. Digital recording of features on site
3. The archaeological site of the ancient theatre of Paphos
4. Completion of excavation of the ‘royal box’ in the theatre seating
5. The royal box overlooking the ancient theatre orchestra
6. Wall foundations of the medieval structure on Fabrika
7. A trench located to reveal a feature identified in Ground Penetrating Radar investigations
8. Structures to the south of the theatre
After a Covid-enforced hiatus the University of Sydney's archaeological mission to the Paphos Theatre site has returned to excavate for the first time since 2019, and our twentieth field season since 1995.
Having begun work on the 2 April, we are now at the halfway point through the project season and the team has been hard at work excavating, research and working towards completing our publication volume.
The 2023 season objectives are to better understand a medieval and post-medieval structure on the top of Fabrika hill to the rear of the ancient theatre; to better understand the 'royal box' feature carved in the cavea (ancient theatre seating), to reappraise the Roman urban landscape in the the theatre quarter of ancient Nea Paphos and to resume research projects from before the pandemic, with the intention of completing our database update and finalising chapters of the major project publication and a number of smaller academic papers. We are also collaborating with the Department of Antiquities and the Australian High Commission in Nicosia on a number of projects.
A dedicated team of archaeologists, students and specialist researchers are hard at work and we will update our progress over the next two weeks with a series of entries on our education blog or you can follow the Paphos Theatre project on our Instagram, Twitter and Facebook accounts.
Our fieldwork project will be completed on 7 May 2023 and research will continue in Australia over the next 12 months.
After a long delay because of the Covid pandemic, the Paphos Theatre Archaeological Project will return to the field for a season of excavation and research in 2023. The season will take place between 1 April and 7 May 2023.
More information will be revealed here in coming months, but a limited number of student places are now open for current or recent graduates of archaeology, ancient history and adjacent fields. Application forms and more details can be found here.
After being postponed because of Covid we are pleased to announce that the conference NEA PAPHOS COLLOQUIUM III: ANOTHER ACROPOLIS AT PAPHOS: FABRIKA HILL AND BEYOND will take place as a hybrid event in 2022.
A free conference on latest research into the history and archaeology of Nea Paphos
8-11 November 2022 in Athens, Greece
Webinar registration is now open, those attending in person can visit the venues in Athens.
More details here.
Although work on the site has been limited since the Covid pandemic; team members have been working on publication of various research project associated with the Paphos Theatre. The most recent out this month is a paper by C. Richards in the journal Herom: Journal on Hellenistic and Roman Material Culture examining graffiti games located at the theatre site and contextualising them within other Roman and Late Antique board games in Cyprus. The paper is available here.
C. Richards, "Playing games at the Paphos Theatre: an examination of graffiti games uncovered by the Paphos Theatre Archaeological Project", Herom: Journal on Hellenistic and Roman Material Culture 10, 2021, 77-98
A few team members are presenting Zoom seminars and lectures for a number of University of Sydney organisations in May. Details on registration for Zoom access can be found in the various advertisements.
While the world sits at home in isolation during the Covid-19 crisis why not fill in some time with the Paphos Theatre digital jigsaw puzzles. We now have a range of 6 digital puzzles for you to enjoy. Access the puzzles here.
While the world is in isolation and archaeological sites are closed we plan to post some videos of past seasons. One of the major finds of 2019 was a near intact late Roman jug in Trench 19D. Here it is being lifted from the ground to the excitement of the team. Vision captured by Dr Bob Miller.
As part of our 25th anniversary celebrations, the excavations will look back at some of our achievements. In September 1996 we featured in the Australian media, in Good Weekend magazine.