I have been coming to Paphos since 1996 and this is the first season that I haven’t run a trench. I have had to experience the excitement of discovery vicariously. The excitement and anticipation of first-timers, particularly the students as they know they’re reaching the Roman road, or the bottom of the pit, or finally understanding what all those Mediaeval walls mean, or discover yet another unexpected feature associated with the theatre, is palpable. I did however, get to experience that excitement of discovery first hand again on the last day of digging. In 2004, we had discovered two floor mosaics associated with the eastern and western parodoi (entries), and a part of a polychromatic geometric carpet mosaic. This polychromatic mosaic was the most exciting thing I had ever discovered in nearly 20 years as an archaeologist, and late in the season it was decided to open a small trench in the hope of exposing more of it. I had to go to Nicosia to do some research and was told to be back by Wednesday morning because ‘that’s when we get to it’. I was probably the only person who knew with absolute certainty that at least part of the mosaic would be uncovered; the unknowns were how much of it would we find, and in what condition.
Another exciting day! Not only was the full extent of the mosaic carpet exposed, but it was in pretty good condition, particularly as my theory is that columns were smashed up over the top of it during a later quarrying period in the theatre. Of course now for the most exciting aspect of archaeology, trying to work out what it means for our understanding of the theatre. I have been working on the chapter on the mosaics for the excavation report, and this season has been an opportunity for additional research, so I know quite a lot about the mosaic; I can date it and we have numerous parallels from within Paphos and nearby towns, including the Roman city of Kourion along the coast to the east. What is perhaps the most exciting thing about this discovery is that there are very few theatres with surviving mosaic floors, and we now have four distinct mosaic carpets. These are the already mentioned associated with the eastern and western parodoi, and a mosaic on the floor of a large building interpreted as a nymphaeum, all of which are black and white carpets. And now to have this complete polychromatic mosaic carpet is truly exciting!