Posted by: lindycrewe | June 6, 2010

Kissonerga-Mosphilia Chalcolithic roundhouse reconstruction

In addition to excavating at the Bronze Age settlement of Kissonerga-Skalia we’ll also be carrying on with the reconstruction of a Late Chalcolithic building within the fenced area of the site of Kissonerga-Mosphilia, just up the hill towards the village on the left from the coast road. Work began over the easter break, and we’ve now completed the stone foundations, ready to add the mud walls and timber and soil roof.

Illustration of the Pithos House with objects in situ (Peltenburg 1998)

The specific building we chose for the reconstruction is Building 3, dating to the Late Chalcolithic period (around 2800–2400 BC). This building is also known as the ‘Pithos House’ as it contained an unprecedented number of storage vessels and is of international renown, discussed widely in the archaeological literature (excavated and published by Edgar Peltenburg 1998a: 37–42). At 9m in diameter, the Pithos House is the largest Late Chalcolithic building known on Cyprus and there are several additional features which make this structure an ideal choice for bringing the story of Chalcolithic Kissonerga to life. The building was destroyed by fire, leaving a uniquely rich assemblage of goods preserved on the floor of the house, providing multiple strands of evidence for life in the Chalcolithic. There were around 280 objects found within the building. In addition to at least 37 storage vessels, other finds include exotic faience beads, evidence for copper working, and one of only two stamp seals known from this period. The fire also left evidence of the different activities undertaken by the people using the roundhouse. These include tool manufacture, food and liquid preparation and consumption, and possibly the earliest known olive press on the island. The fierceness of the fire suggests that many of the storage vessels may have contained olive oil.

There is no doubt that the Pithos House was a building of a special nature, perhaps providing evidence for privileged access to resources by some sectors of society. The Pithos House is also one of the visible preserved remains in the fenced area at Kissonerga-Mosphilia, meaning that visitors will be able to see both the actual foundations of the building and appreciate how it would have looked when it was standing. In addition to the physical building we are creating a computer reconstruction with the objects in situ. This aspect has been funded by the Archaeological Institute of America’s Site Preservation Grant. The physical reconstruction is funded by the A.G. Leventis Foundation and the Department of Antiquities, Cyprus.

Anyone around the area is welcome to come and have a look at the excavation or come and play in the mud and help out with the reconstruction.

Mixing mud to build the roundhouse, shown in the middle ground. The fenced area of the archaeological site is shown in the background.


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