This grant will be funding palaeo-environmental research that contributes to the Ancient Akrotiri Project, Cyprus directed by Prof. Simon James (University of Leicester) (http://www2.le.ac.uk/departments/archaeology/research/ancient-akrotiri), which involves the excavation of the Roman port at Dreamer’s bay on the southern side of the Akrotiri Peninsula and interpretation of its results in the context of the southern coast of Cyprus. It also contributes to the ERC funded PortusLimen Project directed by Prof. Simon Keay based at the University of Southampton (www.portuslimen.eu), which is employing a range of archaeological, geo-archaeological and historical approaches to the study of c. 32 Mediterranean ports of Roman Imperial date.
Centrally located on the southern shore of Cyprus, on the maritime routes between the Levant, Egypt and Greece, the Akrotiri Peninsula reveals many archaeological sites especially from the Hellenistic, Roman, Byzantine and Venetian periods. This continuous occupation of the area has to be related to the specificity of the landscape. The Akrotiri Peninsula can be considered to be a rare geomorphological site called a “double tombolo”, i.e. an island attached to the mainland by two coastal spits. These two spits enclose a water body that offered different kinds of harbour potential through time. This project aims to reconstruct the formation of the two tombolo beaches, establish the date by when the Akrotiri Island became connected to mainland Cyprus, and evaluate the harbour potential between the Akrotiri Island and Cyprus in terms of the available water column and the degree of closure of the water body. The results of this work, therefore, will shed light on the maritime role that the port at Dreamer’s Bay may have played during the Roman period.
In September 2016, we drilled four cores with the company Geoinvest in the Salt Lake of Akrotiri with the support of the Sovereign Base Areas Administration of Akrotiri (SBAA and Akrotiri Environmental Center) and the Geological Survey Department of Cyprus. The Honor Frost Foundation is supporting the multi-proxy palaeo-environmental analyses of the sedimentary cores. The combination of grain size analysis, geochemical analysis and bio-indicator determination (shells, ostracods etc.) with radiocarbon and OSL dates, will give us information about the chronology of the formation of the first and second spits, and the sedimentation rate of the lake. These cores will provide important results regarding: (1) the palaeo-geographical reconstruction of the Akrotiri Peninsula over the last six millennia; (2) and gauging the changing harbour potential of the lagoon through time.
This research will involve collaboration with colleagues at the University of Southampton (Dr. Lucy Blue, Dr. Helen Farr and Dr. Nicolas Carayon), the), the University of Strasbourg (PhD candidate Cécile Vittori), University of Northumbria (Dr. Matthew Pound, Dr. Emma Hocking, PhD cadidate Calian Hazell,), the University of Athens (PhD candidate Miltiades Polidorou), and the Geological Survey Department of Cyprus (Dr. Zomenia Zomeni).