Excavation Reveals Ancient Site at Laona-Palaepaphos in Cyprus


The 2023 annual surface excavations at the Laona-Palaepaphos ancient site have concluded, revealing a monumental fortress dating back to the Cypro-Classical period (5th–4th c. BC). Led by Professor Maria Iakovou, the Archaeological Research Unit of the University of Cyprus conducted the first phase of the excavation as part of the Palaepaphos Urban Landscape Project (PULP), which has been ongoing since 2006.

During four weeks of intensive excavation, layers of the tumulus were removed to expose the fortress to a height of approximately 3 meters. The primary objective of this phase was to digitally map the monument, as the highest part of the fortress is susceptible to natural disasters.

Phase 2, scheduled for autumn 2023, will focus on implementing vital measures to safeguard and preserve the monument, particularly the three staircases and their construction materials, which consist of unworked stones and mudbrick.

The excavation extended the visible section of the Laona wall to over 135 meters, with the construction of the wall found to be entirely made of stone. Notably, the letter 'E' was identified on a large, worked stone at the exterior base of the fortress, potentially representing the first letter of the mason's name.

Another section of the wall measuring 35 meters in length was revealed to the south, showcasing impressive worked but reused stones. Although the excavation was cut short due to extensive erosion caused by machinery used for levelling agricultural fields, Laona's monumental defensive complex is less than 30 meters away from the plateau of Hadjiabdoullah. Experts believe that it will eventually connect with the wall that protects the eastern side of the Hadjiabdoullah palace, potentially forming a unified part of the acropolis of ancient Paphos.

The significance of the Kouklia-Palaipafos site lies in its extensive and monumental royal-administrative landscape from the Cypro-Classical period. The expropriation of plots between Laona and Hadjiabdoulla will enable the Department of Antiquities to create a protected archaeological site.

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