Pera-Frangissa • Season 2020

Like many pro­jects in 2020, the Fran­gis­sa pro­ject has not remain­ed unaf­fec­ted by the coro­na pan­de­mic. A field school ori­gi­nal­ly plan­ned for spring 2020 tog­e­ther with stu­dents from the uni­ver­si­ties of Frank­furt and Kiel had to be can­ce­led due to Covid-19. Nevert­hel­ess, it was pos­si­ble to car­ry out an archaeo­lo­gi­cal and geo­phy­si­cal sur­vey appro­ved by the Depart­ment of Anti­qui­ties of the Repu­blic of Cyprus, in Octo­ber 2020 with a small team. The pro­mi­sing results lay an important first basis for the “Pera-Fran­gis­sa” excava­ti­on pro­ject plan­ned for the coming years.

Geo­phy­si­cal Survey

In col­la­bo­ra­ti­on with Prof. Dr. Apos­to­los Sar­ris (Archaeo­lo­gi­cal Rese­arch Unit, Lab of Digi­tal Huma­ni­ties Geo­in­for­ma­tics, Uni­ver­si­ty of Cyprus), a com­pre­hen­si­ve geo­phy­si­cal sur­vey was car­ri­ed out in the area, which has alre­a­dy been deli­mi­t­ed by archi­ve stu­dies. The pro­s­pec­tion cover­ed an area of 6,500 m². A detail­ed, geo­re­fe­ren­ced map­ping of the area was car­ri­ed out by means of a high-reso­lu­ti­on mea­su­re­ment using a NOGGIN PLUS GPR unit with a 250 MHz anten­na. This resul­ted in a num­ber of indi­ca­ti­ons of archi­tec­tu­ral struc­tures in the ground that were not visi­ble abo­ve. An initi­al careful cor­re­la­ti­on of the mea­su­re­ment data with the stone plan published by Ohne­falsch-Rich­ter shows that the­re is a cor­re­spon­dence regar­ding the apsi­di­al struc­tu­re of the buil­ding insi­de the cour­ty­ard com­plex and the wes­tern wall of the sanc­tua­ry area. Howe­ver, a defi­ni­ti­ve state­ment can only be made by excavating the rele­vant locations.

Archaeo­lo­gi­cal Survey

The area of ​​almost 10,000 m² exami­ned as part of a sys­te­ma­tic field inspec­tion lar­ge­ly cor­re­sponds to the area also recor­ded in the geo­phy­si­cal sur­vey. It was divi­ded into regu­lar qua­drants of 100 m², the posi­ti­on of which is pre­cis­e­ly deter­mi­ned by sur­vey­ing and cor­re­la­ted with the geo­phy­si­cal plan. The­se qua­drants, desi­gna­ted with a con­se­cu­ti­ve num­ber, were sys­te­ma­ti­cal­ly explo­red and the arti­facts visi­ble abo­ve the sur­face were coll­ec­ted. The­se are in par­ti­cu­lar frag­ments of ves­sels and roof tiles, but also num­e­rous frag­ments of sta­tu­es and sta­tu­et­tes made of lime­s­tone or ter­ra­cot­ta. The found mate­ri­al was sta­tis­ti­cal­ly and typo­lo­gi­cal­ly recor­ded, weig­hed and pho­to­gra­phed. Dia­gno­stic sherds were drawn and the tone value was deter­mi­ned accor­ding to the Mun­sell Soil Color Charts. The map­ping of the finds and the pre­vious ana­ly­sis show that a con­sidera­ble con­cen­tra­ti­on of finds is emer­ging in the wes­tern area of ​​the inves­ti­ga­ti­on area. It is also noti­ceable that the cera­mic frag­ments found the­re are, on avera­ge, signi­fi­cant­ly lar­ger and bet­ter pre­ser­ved, while the sur­face cera­mics of the cen­tral and eas­tern are­as, which are often very fine­ly pre­ser­ved, show strong signs of wea­the­ring. Appar­ent­ly, the frag­ments of the wes­tern area have only been on the sur­face for a rela­tively short time — name­ly sin­ce the excava­tions by Ohne­falsch-Rich­ter in 1885 — while the remai­ning mate­ri­al was expo­sed to the wea­ther for cen­tu­ries and was repea­ted­ly relo­ca­ted by plowing.

Finds of lime­s­tone sculp­tures and voti­ve ter­ra­cot­tas are also con­cen­tra­ted to the west of the inves­ti­ga­ted area. The frag­ments found are signi­fi­cant and cor­re­spond to the ran­ge of voti­ve finds found during the excava­ti­on in 1885. Frag­ments of hor­ses, riders and wagons domi­na­te the small-for­mat, hand-for­med ter­ra­cot­tas. The lar­ge-for­mat hol­low ter­ra­cot­tas, pre-for­med from pie­ces on the potter’s wheel, repre­sent dedi­cants — here, due to the pro­por­ti­ons, figu­res of at least life size can be detec­ted. The frag­ments of lime­s­tone sculp­tures show depic­tions of ado­rants as well as ani­mal figu­res, pro­ba­b­ly also hor­ses (or riders). The chro­no­lo­gi­cal spec­trum of the voti­ve ran­ges from archaic times to Hellenism.

If you look at the finds recor­ded during the archaeo­lo­gi­cal sur­vey in their enti­re­ty, the chro­no­lo­gi­cal frame­work is expan­ded: the oldest finds come from the Ear­ly Bron­ze Age, the latest finds, which were pri­ma­ri­ly made in the eas­tern area of the inves­ti­ga­ti­on area, from the late Roman-Byzan­ti­ne peri­od. In this con­text, refe­rence should be made to an anci­ent sett­le­ment of the Roman era, alre­a­dy reco­gni­zed by Ohne­falsch-Rich­ter, cle­ar­ly down­stream, from whe­re the­se late frag­ments could come from.

A Tri­al Trench from 1885

Apart from the num­e­rous frag­ments of archaic-Hel­le­ni­stic voti­ve offe­rings, the exis­tence of which points to the sanc­tua­ry, and who­se com­pa­ra­tively fresh pre­ser­va­ti­on shows them to be rem­nants of the Ohne­falsch-Rich­ter excava­ti­on rub­ble, direct evi­dence of the acti­vi­ty of Ohne­falsch-Rich­ter in 1885 could be found in seve­ral places. The remains of a near­ly 15 m long tri­al trench were found imme­dia­te­ly south of the sanc­tua­ry area. This tri­al trench is laid out in a com­ple­te­ly straight line, and its width cor­re­sponds exact­ly to 2 feet — the unit of length used in the time of Ohne­falsch-Rich­ter in Cyprus. From his reports it is known that he had appro­pria­te pro­bes built around the area in order to explo­re the fur­ther expan­si­on of the sanc­tua­ry. The now redis­co­ver­ed tri­al trench cuts through an anci­ent, dou­ble-shell wall with a wall thic­k­ness of around 60 cm, which has been pre­ser­ved in this area with a height ca. 40 cm, but which may con­ti­nue deeper into the ground. Sin­ce it is all around in unex­cava­ted soil — with the excep­ti­on of the tri­al trench -, an undis­tur­bed stra­ti­gra­phy can be expec­ted here. This area is the­r­e­fo­re inten­ded for a clo­ser exami­na­ti­on as part of the plan­ned excavations.

For the Future

The sien­ti­fic acti­vi­ties, finan­ci­al­ly fun­ded and per­so­nal­ly sup­port­ed by AMRICHA, have cle­ar­ly con­firm­ed the loca­ti­on of the Apol­lo sanc­tua­ry of Fran­gis­sa in 2020, which was dis­co­ver­ed by Ohne­falsch-Rich­ter in 1885 and exami­ned in an emer­gen­cy excava­ti­on. In the cour­se of this first 2020 cam­paign, a sur­vey­ing net­work has alre­a­dy been set up and a local GIS sys­tem crea­ted. A geo­re­fe­ren­ced 3D model of the val­ley was crea­ted by fly­ing a UAV over the enti­re area and the basis for an ele­va­ti­on map was laid. Our inten­ti­on is to start a regu­lar excava­ti­on the­re in spring 2021.

The uni­ver­si­ties of Frank­furt (Dr. M. Recke) and Kiel (PD Dr. P. Kobusch) plan to car­ry out the excava­tions as part of a field school in order to give stu­dents of clas­si­cal archeo­lo­gy an insight into prac­ti­cal field work with the most modern methods of digi­tiza­ti­on and docu­men­ta­ti­on. Tech­ni­cal sup­port will again be pro­vi­ded by AMRICHA, who will also over­see the con­ser­va­ti­on work of finds and archi­tec­tu­ral ele­ments (Alex­an­der Gatz­sche M.A.). We are again gra­teful for the sup­port from the Depart­ment of Anti­qui­ties Cyprus and the Uni­ver­si­ty of Cyprus, who not only actively sup­port­ed the 2020 cam­paign, but also offer per­spec­ti­ves for a long-term, sci­en­ti­fi­cal­ly signi­fi­cant and pro­mi­sing project.