After a day of cleaning on site, we now have officially begun the Paphos 2010 season. Soil was broken on the five trenches we are opening this year. Each trench is specifically located to answer specific questions about the architecture of the ancient theatre of Nea Paphos and of the surrounding urban landscape.
Trench 10A is located at the eastern most edge of the ancient theatre’s eastern parodos (entranceway). It is designed to explore the eastern edge of the theatre and to ask questions about the movement of peoples through the northeastern quarter of the ancient city.
Trench 10B is in the massive cut into the bedrock of the western parodos. This area had been previously explored in 2002 and in 2008, and is little understood at this point, although it has proved to be rich in finds so far.
Trenches 10C and 10D are located on two sides of an ancient structure located to the south of the theatre in the eastern area in 2008 and 2009. A 21-metre long, 5-metre wide structure with a plain mosaic floor, we have been speculating that this may be a nymphaeum or some other form of fountain house. Given the area of excavations by the Australian mission would have been located near an ancient city gate, the supply of fresh water to travelers would have been a vital architectural element. What is yet to be fully determined is the linkage between the theatre and the nymphaeum?
Both trenches are designed to answer specific questions about the relationship of this building with the surrounding areas, including a major east-west running road to the south of the nymphaeum, as well as a passageway to the west of the structure which would have served as part of the entrance into the eastern parodos of the theatre. The flow of pedestrian traffic would have been important for allowing access to the theatre structure by audience members and performers alike.
Trench 10E is a small exploratory area in the western cavea (seating area), quite a small area of excavation but an important one. The aim of explore for any traces of early architectural evidence of the theatre. Most ancient theatre sites were renovated or remodeled several times during its usage, and most surviving theatre display the later Roman structures, not the theatres of the earlier Hellenistic or Classical periods. Paphos is no different, but perhaps there are traces to be found here that provide a glimpse into the first phases of the theatre of the capital of Cyprus.
Trench 10F is a long sondage, designed to explore the relationship between the rear of the Roman stage building and the same road that is being explored in Trench 10C.
We hope you can follow our trenches as they develop, and hear the stories from people excavating them.