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The Weekend Neos Kosmos : 27 August 2016
20 THE WEEKEND NEOS KOSMOS | SATURDAY 27 AUGUST 2016 DIGITAL.NEOSKOSMOS.COM When the first shovelful of dirt was moved by Australian archaeologists in Paphos, Cyprus in May 1995, few of us thought that we would still be working on the site 20 years later. The nature of archaeological excavation can be slow and painstaking. But even then, long-term projects remain relatively uncommon. So what are the pros and cons of longterm research instead of smaller projects based around grant funding? The University of Sydney began excavating at Paphos in 1995 at the initiative of Emeritus Professor Richard Green. Like all foreign archaeological missions working in Cyprus, the work is conducted under the auspices of the Department of Antiquities for the Republic of Cyprus. The team has excavated for five to six weeks annually at various times of the year, with additional study seasons and finds recording work done by individual scholars and researchers. The project was initially funded by Australian Research Council grants. Today the excavations, run by myself and Dr Smadar Gabrieli, are largely self-financed through student contributions, and an active volunteer program. This enables members of the public to work on the project alongside the professional archaeological team. We are also supported by the Australian Archaeological Institute at Athens and the Nicholson Museum at the University of Sydney. The ancient town of Nea Digging deeper holes Craig Barker refl ects on his 20 years as an archaeologist in Cyprus Excavating the site of the ancient theatre of Paphos in 2010. PHOTOS: UNIVERSITY OF SYDNEY PAPHOS ARCHAEOLOGICAL PROJECT. Paphos was the capital of Cyprus for more than six centuries in the Hellenistic and Roman periods of the island's history; its important geo-political positioning on ancient maritime trading routes made the emporium city wealthy for centuries. Devastated by a series of earthquakes in late antiquity, and again in the Middle Ages, the town's population dwindled and it became a sleepy fishing village – until the 1970s and a modern tourist boom. This lack of modern development has meant that much of the archaeology of ancient Paphos has survived in relatively good condition. This was especially due to the foresight by Cypriot authorities in the 1960s to leave a large proportion of the town as an archaeological park, now listed as a UNESCO World Heritage site. THE ANCIENT THEATRE OF PAPHOS Over the period of excavating at the area of the north-western corner of the ancient city, the Australian team has revealed the architectural remains of a theatre – with a capacity to hold more than 8,500 spectators at its peak in the second century AD.
20 August 2016
3 September 2016