Since 1995 the University of Sydney has conducted excavations at the World Heritage listed site of Nea Paphos under the auspices of the Department of Antiquities of the Republic of Cyprus. The Australian mission has been concentrating on the excavation of the ancient theatre and surrounding environs of the town that was the capital of Cyprus under the Ptolemaic and then Roman administrations.
The excavations have revealed a theatre used for performance and entertainment for over six and a half centuries (circa 300 BC to the late fourth century AD). At its maximum extent during the reign of the Antonine Emperors of the second century AD, the theatre could seat over 8500 spectators. Considerable Medieval and post-Medieval period finds have also been uncovered, as Paphos was a major trading port at the time of the Crusades. Fieldwork is currently concentrating on investigating the urban layout of the surrounding theatre precinct including revealing paved Roman roads and a Roman nymphaeum (water house).
As well as the physical excavation of the site, the team is working on the interpretation, cataloguing and publication of ceramic and other finds. The project is interested in: the development of theatre architecture; the materiality of the spread of theatrical performance to the eastern Mediterranean during the Hellenistic period; ceramic production in Cyprus from the Hellenistic to post-medieval periods; the urban layout of the ancient city; and the Roman use of water in an urban context.
To date the excavations have seen over 400 Australian and international archaeologists, students and volunteering members of the public who have helped uncover the remains of ancient Cyprus.
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PAPHOS THEATRE SITE
The Hellenistic-Roman Theatre is part of the World Heritage listed archaeological zone in Kato Paphos. It is located in the north eastern quarter of the ancient town and is today a short walk from the Paphos archaeological park which includes the ancient Agora, Odeon, Roman villas with mosaic floors and the Byzantine fortress Saranda Kolones.
For visitors a viewing platform is accessible year round at the top of Fabrika hill. However, as the site is still a working archaeological zone it is not currently accessible to the public.