June 20, 2001 A University of Cincinnati archaeologist will open new excavations June 18 on the island of Cyprus in hopes of discovering whether a Bronze Age city was actually an important trading center for the Middle East, Egypt and Greece.
The excavations at Bamboula, a town that flourished between the 13th through the 11th century B.C., will be headed by UC classics professor Gisela Walberg, holder of the Marion C. Rawson Chair.
Aside from a minor study of a tomb at the site, the last excavations at Bamboula date back more than 50 years. Those studies by J.F. Daniels of the University of Pennsylvania revealed a mysterious underground cellar and tunnels, as well as a deep well, houses and a city wall with a square tower. Unfortunately, Daniels' results were not completely published due to his death in 1948.
Bamboula sits along a highway on the outskirts of the modern village of Episkopi, along the southwestern coast of Cyprus and near the modern harbor town of Limassol. According to Walberg, Bamboula sat on the eastern edge of the Mycenaean world and served as a harbor town. It was "built at the end of a river flowing from the Troodos Mountains to the sea," she said.
"The mountains contain copper, which was mined before the beginning of the Bronze Age and played an important role in the history of the island. The copper was probably brought down from the mines and made into ingots of bronze, bronze tools, weapons and other objects to be sold and shipped to other parts of the Mediterranean, including the Greek mainland," she said, adding that she wants to learn more about the connections between the ancient mainland Greeks and Bamboula's inhabitants.
Although the site was probably abandoned at the end of the Bronze Age, a nearby cemetery from the beginning of the Iron Age indicates that the area continued to be inhabited. Among the earlier finds from the cemetery was a magnificent scepter made of gold and enamel, crowned by two falcons (see left). Walberg said the scepter might have belonged to the ruler of one of the Greek kingdoms that flourished on the island during the Iron Age.
Walberg's team will include excavation architect Elias Markou, photographer Maureen France of UC's College of Design, Architecture, Art, and Planning, and graduate students of Maria Iacovou, one of Walberg's first graduate students at UC who now heads the archaeology department at the University of Cyprus. The team will excavate June 18-July 15.
The Cyprus project is funded by UC's Louise Taft Semple Fund.
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