WORKING PAPER – DO NOT CITE WITHOUT PERMISSION FROM AUTHORS © 2011
Our contribution in this paper will focus on the site of Pyla-
which we documentedthrough intensive pedestrian survey (2006 and 2007), geophysical work (2007 and 2008), andexcavation (2008 and 2009). The prominent coastal height is located at the western border of theBritish Sovereign Base Area and the Dhekelia Cantonment and is immediately visible to anytraveler driving along the coastal road from Larnaka. The steep slopes on the southern, western,and eastern sides of the hill emphasize the dramatic elevation (55 masl) of the plateau which,throughout antiquity, offered an easily fortified coastal exposure. The
plateau connects tothe larger
plateau by a relatively narrow isthmus that shows significantlocal erosion resulting from the excavation of bedrock to produce a dry moat 18-20 m wide. Thetop of the plateau itself slopes gently toward the southern side, the higher northern side possiblya result of a collapsed fortification.Views from the height encompass the entire Larnaka Bay from Capes Kiti to Pyla, whichmay account for the modern toponym of the site
, the “watch post.” The ancient name of aplaced called
, preserved in Ptolemy the Geographer’s description of Cyprus and located tothe east of Kition, could allude to the use of torches to communicate the approach of ships fromlookout positions along the coast.
There is evidence for the presence of military units on thehill, not only in the strategic location of the height but also the collection of lead sling pelletsfound by looters and an inscribed game board of Hellenistic date.
Indeed, more systematicarchaeological surface investigation of the height revealed a fortification wall and a robustscatter of material on the surface. Geophysical prospection indicated the presence of architectureacross the plateau and soundings conducted in 2008 and 2009 produced evidence for a smallsettlement destroyed twice by fire. The dominant phase of activity on the plateau dates from theHellenistic to Early Roman period with traces of later and earlier activity across the site.Altogether, this evidence has led us to infer a short-lived fortified coastal settlement dating to theturbulent Hellenistic era with one significant phase of reoccupation and a later ephemeraloccupation of ancient date.
I. Nicolaou, “Inscriptiones Cypriae Alphadeticae XVI,”
(1977), 209-216; I. Nicolaou, “InscriptionesCypriae Alphadeticae XVIII, 1978,”
(1979), 344-351;I. Nicolaou, “Inscriptiones Cypriae Alphadeticae XIX,1979,”