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Pyla-Koutsopetria I: Archaeological Survey of an Ancient Coastal Town

Pyla-Koutsopetria I: Archaeological Survey of an Ancient Coastal Town

By William Caraher, R. Scott Moore, and David Pettegrew, with contributions by Maria Andrioti, P. Nick Kardulias, Dimitri Nakassis, and Brandon Olson (American Schools of Oriental Research Archaeological Reports 21). Pp. xv + 348, b&w figs. 137, tables 56. American Schools of Oriental Research, Boston 2014. $79.95. ISBN 978-0-89757-069-5 (cloth).

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Pyla-Koutsopetria I is the first volume of final reports on the Pyla-Koutsopetria survey project (PKAP) in Cyprus. Published as part of the American Schools of Oriental Research Archaeological Reports series, the volume meets the generally high standards of the series. The publication reflects an appreciation for the historical landscape as well as a robust discussion of ceramics and material culture. This project came to fruition while I was the director of the Cyprus American Archaeological Research Institute (CAARI) in Nicosia, so it is a particular pleasure to see the first volume now in print.  

Some archaeological research has occurred within the PKAP area. Before independence, Dikaios identified a Late Bronze Age occupation on the hill of Kokkinokremnos. In the early 1980s, a substantial fortified settlement dating to the 13th century B.C.E. was revealed on the hill (V. Karageorghis and M. Demas, Pyla-Kokkinokremnos: A Late 13th Century B.C. Fortified Settlement in Cyprus [Nicosia 1984]). Karageorghis returned to the site in 2010–2011 and carried out further investigations. This fortified site features prominently in Karageorghis’ model of Mycenaean settlement on Cyprus at the end of the Late Bronze Age. In the 1990s, small-scale excavations of an Early Christian basilica complex were conducted on the plain below the hill.

Located within the confines of the British Sovereign Base Area (SBA) and Cantonment of Dhekelia, the project has had to maneuver carefully, not only because of potential risks (the area remains an active firing range for the British base) but because of the complexities of the political relationship between the SBA, and the Cypriot antiquities authorities, and the history of archaeological research in the vicinity. Outside the confines of the SBA, the coastal zone is witnessing very rapid development, and the window for archaeological research is narrowing. In consequence, the survey is a collaborative project in the best sense of the term, with a diversely talented research team and close collaboration between the project team, CAARI, and the department of antiquities. The seven chapters of the report provide an excellent summary of a robust survey project.

Chapter 1 provides an overview of the project and is informed by a good summary of current scholarly discussions of survey projects in the eastern Mediterranean. This is expanded on in the second chapter, which provides both the methodology and the field results of the intense pedestrian survey. The high-resolution survey approach targeted Late Roman Koutsopetria. In chapter 3, the various survey techniques employed by the team are fully evaluated, and the concluding discussion in this chapter will be of great practical value to survey archaeologists in general.

The catalogue of finds in chapter 4 is extensive and well presented. Moore’s expertise in Roman fine wares is displayed, but I particularly appreciated the attention paid to coarse wares, including post-Roman material. The fine ware discussion could have benefited from some color plates. Chapter 5 discusses the finds as they were recovered across the landscape. The quality of the presentation and the sophistication of the discussion allow for a clear understanding of diachronic change across the survey area. Chapter 6 includes visible landscape features, such as walls, but the landscape itself is somewhat absent from the discussion.

Chapter 7 places the results of the survey in a broader historical and regional context through short, historically divided discussions. Here the landscape is engaged, and various aspects of historic and prehistoric human activity in the survey region are highlighted. The discussion of the Late Bronze Age is truncated because “we were encouraged to exclude the study of the prehistoric period after Karageorghis and his colleagues resumed excavation at the site in 2010” (271). In actuality, the resumption of work at Kokkinokremnos removed this hill from the PKAP survey area. Karageorghis’ immense influence on Cypriot archaeology makes archaeological interpretation of his work somewhat problematic and may explain why the Koutsopetria team avoided any substantive discussion of the Late Bronze Age material and their failure to include a recent article (V. Karageorghis and A. Georghiou, “A Corpus of Late Minoan III Pottery from Pyla-Kokkinokremnos,” RDAC [2010] 301–24) in their bibliography. The report of the 2010–2011 excavations was published in 2014 (V. Karageorghis and A. Kanta, Pyla-Kokkinokremnos: A Late 13th Century B.C. Fortified Settlement in Cyprus. Excavations 2010–2011 [Uppsala 2014]), too late to be discussed in this volume.

Overall this is a fine addition to the expanding literature on surveys in the eastern Mediterranean. This volume will be particularly helpful to students of late antiquity.

Thomas W. Davis
Charles D. Tandy Institute of Archaeology
Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary

Book Review of Pyla-Koutsopetria I: Archaeological Survey of an Ancient Coastal Town, by William Caraher, R. Scott Moore, and David Pettegrew

Reviewed by Thomas W. Davis

American Journal of Archaeology Vol. 121, No. 1 (January 2017)

Published online at

DOI: 10.3764/ajaonline1211.Davis

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