At Dreamer’s Bay, near the very southernmost point of Cyprus on the south shoreline of the Akrotiri peninsula, winter storms are washing ancient buildings into the Mediterranean. These are parts of an early port, also attested by submerged remains: a masonry breakwater, amphora scatters denoting wrecks, and stone anchors. These remains lie in a block of near-pristine coastline protected from rampant modern development by their incorporation within the perimeter of the UK airbase of RAF Akrotiri, providing a rare opportunity for modern archaeological research on a virtually undisturbed ancient port.
The University of Leicester’s School of Archaeology and Ancient History is investigating the shoreline remains and their setting., What began as a small rescue archaeology project has now developed into a wider collaborative research programme drawing on the underwater archaeology and geomorphology expertise of the University of Southampton. It is also kindly facilitated and supported by RAF Akrotiri, Defence Infrastructure Organisation (DIO), UK Sovereign Base Areas Administration (SBAA), and the Republic of Cyprus Department of Antiquities (DoA).
Results from initial work in 2015 and 2016 indicate that the shoreline buildings probably represent a planned foundation, provisionally lasting c.AD200-400. Future work will also involve survey of the port’s submerged remains. Current geomorphological work should show how the port relates to broadly contemporaneous evolution of the former island of Akrotiri into a peninsula, as a great tombolo beach grew to close the former sea channel.
The project thus aims to place the Dreamer’s Bay port into the context of its regional coastscape and the history of Cyprus. It is an effort which promises to make substantial contributions to the bigger picture of the history of human settlement and indeed the natural environment of southern Cyprus in its broader maritime cultural landscape, and the region’s Mediterranean interactions.