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Vigla Description and Analysis December Working 2010

Vigla Description and Analysis December Working 2010

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Published by billcaraher
A brief description of a possible Hellenistic fortification from the site of Vigla on Cyprus.
A brief description of a possible Hellenistic fortification from the site of Vigla on Cyprus.

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Published by: billcaraher on Dec 07, 2010
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 WORKING DRAFT. DO NOT CITE WITHOUT AUTHOR’S PERMISSION. © 2010 W. Caraher 
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The Fortified Site of Pyla-
Vigla 
in the Coastal Zone of Pyla, Cyprus William Caraher, University of North Dakota © 2010
Introduction 
Excavations and surface finds from the fortification at Vigla have revealed a substantial fortified site most likely of Classical to Hellenistic date. This sectionprovides a basic overview of the evidence for the date, construction style, design,and function of these fortifications. This includes our interpretation of soundingsin 2008 and 2009.The location and topography of Vigla offered several advantages. First, its steepsouthern, eastern, and western sides made the flat top of Vigla easy to fortify. Theonly vulnerable approach was on the north side of the hill and to approach thisside from the coast, on would have to pass in the view the fortifications. Theeasily defensible height of Vigla most likely served to monitor the now in-fillednatural embayment along this stretch of coastline. This embayment would haveprovided a natural harbor or anchorage. Moreover, in this same area, the maincoastal road east from Kition to Salamis and points west turned inland exposing coastal land traffic to potential disruption by seaborne forces.
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The prominentcoastal height also provided clear views of almost the entire Larnaka bay fromCape Pyla in the east to Cape Kiti in the west adding to the strategic value of thesite. At the same time, the presence of Bronze Age and Iron Age materialthroughout the region indicates the longstanding value of this area and mitigatesagainst any interpretation based on a single, particular military contingency orgeopolitical situation. The excavations on Vigla suggest that a settlement on thehill may have predated the construction of the fortification walls. At the sametime, the position of Vigla near the eastern border of the
chora 
of Kition, thepresence of a local cult site,
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the abundant cultivatable land, and access to a natural anchorage might have attracted local residents to the defensible height

1
W. Caraher, R. S. Moore, J.S. Noller, and D. K. Pettegrew, “The Pyla-Koutsopetria  Archaeological Project: First Preliminary Report (2003-2004 Seasons),”
RDAC 
(2005),248-250
2
O. Masson, “Kypriaka II: Recherches sur les antiquités de la région de Pyla,”
BCH 
90(1966), 1-21.
 
 WORKING DRAFT. DO NOT CITE WITHOUT AUTHOR’S PERMISSION. © 2010 W. Caraher 
2
prior to the end of the Cypro-Classical period and the dissolution of the city-kingdoms. The topographic, geopolitical, and economic potential of the region thetactical and strategic standpoint, Vigla represented an easy to fortify and usefulposition on the coast of Larnaka bay.
Description of the Wall 
The fortification wall at Vigla itself encompasses an area of approximately 9900sq. meters. On the western, southern, and eastern sides of the plateau, the wallfollows the natural contour of the slope. Very little of the wall itself is preservedtoday with the longest exposed section along the southern slope of the hill visibleonly one course above the level of the surrounding surface. Despite the poor stateof preservation, we traced the wall for over 100 meters, and in numerous places both faces of the wall was visible indicating a width of 1.7-1.8 meters. In thissection, the wall consisting of faces of locally-quarried, roughly-dress blocksaveraging generally less than 0.5 m in length with a rubble core. There is very little evidence for mortar. At the southeastern corner of the promontory, the wall turns to the north andappears to follow the steeply sloping eastern side of the hill. Erosion appearsquite significant in this area with sections of bedrock having collapsed downslope. It seems probable that parts of the wall along this side of the height havefallen down the slope. At the southeastern corner of the wall there is a small,curved section of wall approximately 0.50 m wide and 2.3 m in length withconspicuous quantities of white, gypsum based mortar. This wall does not clearly relate to wall running along the southern face of the Vigla nor does theconstruction style fit well with walls elsewhere on the hill. Further north fromthis point, the wall does not appear to be visible along most of the eastern side of the hill, until a 12 m long section of wall reappears approximately 100 m to thenorth of the southeastern corner wall. Soundings conducted in 2008 along thisstretch of wall showed that the wall was 1.7 m wide at this point. The wallconsisted of two faces roughly-cut dressed blocks with rubble fill.The northern stretch of the wall is almost completely invisible, but it appears tohave followed a slight ridge along the northern part of the Vigla plateau.Excavations by looters in the early summer or spring of 2010 exposed a small
 
 WORKING DRAFT. DO NOT CITE WITHOUT AUTHOR’S PERMISSION. © 2010 W. Caraher 
3
section of the wall’s southern face. Further to the west, more sections of the wallare visible, but these appear to follow a different course from section exposed by looters suggesting that the wall changes course at some point near thenorthwestern corner. Further north, there are clearly visible remains of an 18-20 m fosse or
taphros 
cut into the local bedrock. This imposing feature probably combined the practical contingency of local quarrying with the tactical advantageof providing defenders of additional height from which to assault attackersapproaching the fortification from the north. The fosse effectively separates the Vigla promontory from the mass of the Mavrospilos/Kazamas plateau.The western side of the wall is the least visible on Vigla as it is most likely covered with soil eroding from the top. Soundings at the northwestern corner of Vigla exposed a 5 m long stretch of wall that clearly underwent repair. Thenorthwestern corner appears to be a different construction style than the otherstretches of wall. Significant quantities of a gypsum-based mortar was used tocreate a substantial rubble core faced with heavily mortared blocks. It seemslikely that this represents the remains of a tower designed to protect an entranceto the enciente at the northwestern corner. Further to the south near what musthave been the southwest corner of the enciente, the wall appears once more andcontinues for approximately 20 m. While only the external face of the wall is visible here, it appears similar in construction to the wall that runs along thesouthern face of Vigla.
Excavations 
In 2008 and 2009, PKAP excavated two units near the perimeter fortification wall in an effort to establish a stratigraphic basis for dating of the wall anddetermine whether the wall was the product of a single phase. The challenge toexcavating the wall was that the significant slope and erosion present along the wall’s well-preserved southern side made stratified deposits unlikely. As a result, we focused our soundsing on areas where the wall appeared less effected by localerosion and had the potential to preserve some local soil depth and localstratigraphy associated with the construction of the wall.EU 6 bisected the course of the wall visible the eastern side of Vigla. It revealed atleast three phases of construction, the latest of which was the substantial

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