Kourion Urban Space Project

The Kourion Urban Space Project (KUSP) is a multi-national effort, committed to working in partnership with local Cypriot archaeologists and students. It is under the direction of Dr. Tom Davis.

Kourion is located at Episkopi Bay, on the southwest  coast of Cyprus. While it has settlements from the Neolithic to the Medieval periods, the emphasis of the Tandy excavation project is on the later Roman and Early Byzantine Periods, the world of the New Testament and the Early Church.

The fourth century AD marked a watershed change for the development of Cyprus’ cultural identity.  Transformed by both internal and external factors, the Cyprus that emerged by 400 AD is recognizably the forerunner of modern Cyprus (Davis 2011). Because the ancient sources are largely silent concerning ancient Cyprus, archaeological evidence and its accurate interpretation is crucial for reconstructing this period of transitionfrom paganism to Christianity.  During the late 4th c. AD, a massive earthquake occurred off the southwest coast of Cyprus which devastated the cities located on this part of the island.  One of the cities most affected by this catastrophic event was Kourion, which appears to have been almost completely abandoned for a short period of time, before being reoccupied at the beginning of the early 5th c. AD.  Despite this reoccupation, the site never completely recovered, resulting in a large portion remaining abandoned leading to the preservation in the archaeological record of the destruction. This was made manifest in the excavations led by David Soren of the University of Arizona (1984-1987). Soren unearthed a domestic structure which came to be known as the Earthquake House. Dr. Davis, the Principal Investigator of the current project, served as field director of those excavations in the first two seasons.  The excavations confirmed the destruction of this building by the earthquake and its lack of subsequent disturbance by revealing not only a complete artifact assemblage in situ, but also the remains of five victims that had been killed during the event. Such sudden and complete destruction makes Kourion one of only a few sites around the ancient Mediterranean to provide archaeologists with the opportunity to analyze artifact assemblages in the context of their daily use rather than after they have been discarded.

The Kourion Urban Space Project (KUSP) seeks  to gain a better understanding of the urban space of Kourion and by extension late Roman Cyprus.  KUSP is under the direction of Dr. Thomas Davis who served as the Principal Investigator of the KMP after the untimely death of Dr. Danielle Parks.

 

 Research Questions

 

  1. Does the Earthquake House and its assemblage represent a typical 4th century AD Kourion non-elite domestic structure?
  2. Do other contemporary domestic structures at Kourion exhibit the same life-cycle as the Earthquake House?
  3.  What is the urban context of the Earthquake House?
  4.  What is the material signature of the profound cultural change on Cyprus from paganism to Christianity?