Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Village treasures.

Just my dream car laying waste among the dry grass on a village sunday.  How poetic. 

Monday, May 25, 2009

Leaving the North

Larnaca - Lazarus's bones

This was a day several weeks ago, when Emily and I shared our first road trip together, getting lost in the port city of Larnaca.  Highlights of the day included an absolutely beautiful archaeological museum, divine in it's simplicity, after years of seeing 'new' museums complete with busy displays, clever lighting and modern surrounds. The display cabinets were circa 1960s, blue and straight, their precious artifacts lit by a breezy, natural light. Refreshing to say the least.  The artifacts here came predominantly from Kition, the city's most famous ancient site dating from 13th century BC.  Asarte, an early incarnation of Aphrodite, was worshipped here.  

Below, the "public women" of Larnaca, 1916.  I could not help but stare at their quite haunting faces, wondering about the lives they led. 

Below, Kition, surrounded on all sides by housing both new and old.  The strange, now familiar, juxtaposition of the modern and the ancient.

Below, Em after receiving instructions from a road-side fruit seller in surprising, sharp rain.

The Church of Ayios Lazaros, Larnaca.  One of few churches where I've been allowed to photograph inside. Below, Lazarus's crypt.  However his bones are no longer here, but incased in a glass box within the church, in sight of the congregation.  

Below, Lazarus's skull.  I did feel a bit strange taking this photo. Tourism sometimes produces discomforting feelings of disrespectful spectatorship (wow - that was a mouthful).  

Below, the local mosque. 

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Limassol - Kourion

From Amathus we ventured north of Limassol to Kourion, a city that has also passed through Hellenistic, Roman, and Christian periods.  As such, there is the remains of a large agora, beautiful bath houses and the remains of some exquisite mosaic floors (above + below). 

The valley of the river Kouris known in the archaeological topography as the Kourion area is one of the richest sites of the entire island in archaeological terms.  

According to Herodotus, the Argives, the ancient inhabitants of Argos, were those who settled Kourion. This very first settlement dating to the Late Bronze Age is identical to the one, which is situated on the Bamboula hill in the east of the Greek neighbourhood of the modern village of Episkopi.  

Bamboula was already used as a cemetery at the Early Bronze Age. The settlement there dates to the 16th century B.C.. A stratigraphy was performed for the most of its part until the early or the mid 12th century LC ΙΙΙΑ and for one section until the next phase, which was the LC ΙΙΙΒ. The 14th century may be considered the prosperity period of this settlement.  

The characteristic architectural style of the houses at Bamboula, with the quadrate trilateral ground plan as well as the ceramic art and the minor objects imitate the Cretan and the Mycenaean model. The discovery of inscriptions in the so-called Cypriot – Minoan script, in the Bamboula settlement, is a typical fact. This script has not yet been deciphered. 

Some remains of the Early and the Middle Bronze Age have also been discovered in the Phaneromeni area, in the east of the Turkish neighbourhood, while in the grand area important settlements dating to the Late Neolithic Age have been found (Sotira, Tteppes, Kantou, Koufovounos) and also to the Chalcolithic Age (Erimi, Bamboula, Sotira, Kaminoudia). In the Ayios Ermogenis’ valley, known as Kaloriziki (= lucky), under the cliffs of Kourion, a big part of the cemetery dating to the Late Bronze Age has been excavated. - Limassol Municipal's website.

Limassol archaeology

Welcome to Amathus, an ancient city-kingdom of Cyprus dating from the 9th century BC - one of the "must see" points on Aphrodite's cultural compass.  At this site lies the ruins of a temple of Aphrodite, the ancient agora (or market), remains of a port and the ruins of a Byzantine basilica.  Amathus was destroyed by Richard the Lionheart around 1191.  Behind me (above) lies the remains of domestic houses and old roads (Clancy - this is where I found your pottery shards).  One of Amathus's best features was that we could actually explore the entire site, clambering over old walls, sitting on stone steps and adventuring though semi-covered passageways, a freedom I've found quite rare at sites such as these (all though I do admit, being fenced off is better for the conservation of these places). 

Below, the remains of the market place with its wide streets:

A stone mosaic set into the floor of the baths:

Climbing for 15 minutes to the top of the hill reveals this jewel, the remains of Aphrodite's temple (there is no signage directing you up here - it was quite by chance we met a groundsperson telling us where to go):

and this, an almost complete urn (?), massive in size, keeping watch over the harbour.  No idea how this managed to survive all these centuries...

Monday, May 18, 2009

Tombs of the Kings, Pafos

I'm getting so lazy, really.  I've stopped writing about these marvelous, complex places because it's just too easy to show you with photos.  But really, they're only the tip of the iceberg.  It was so hot this day Emily and I spent in Pafos, or so I thought at the time.  It's even hotter now...  this place was filled with the sounds of field insects - cicadas rattling like snakes - and the scent of the sun and sweat and the near sea.  Wild flowers littered this place, all inky blues, lilac and creams and the scarlet of late easter poppies.   The tombs were quiet except for the chatter of startled tourists coming upon each other through holes cut in the rock.   There were no kings buried here, just the rich.  Although they were beautiful in their steadiness, I felt a little strange trespassing on this hollow place. No more bodies, just a damp hush below and dry grass above.