We wrapped up a short study season this past week at the museum in Larnaka, Cyprus. Our main focus was on the finds from a single trench excavated in 2012. We sorted the material and prepared it for the arrival of Brandon Olson later this week, who will study the Hellenistic ceramics. As I have mentioned here before, pre-sorting and washing the pottery is boring, but it does give us a chance to look at every object that came from this massive deposit of material.
The objects all came from a 2 x 3 x 2 storage pit that leaned against the inside of the massive fortification wall the protected the north side of the site of Vigla. For more on the site in general, go here.
When we excavated the material we were struck by how homogeneous the assemblage appeared to be. In fact, our initial conclusions was that the material piled into this storage pit represented the clean up from one of at least two episodes of distraction at the site. On closer inspection, however, it looks like the assemblage from these pits might include a good bit of material earlier than the main period represented at the site. It looks like we have more than a few painted Iron Age storage vessels.
More interesting, however, is the evidence for miniatures at the site. On Cyprus, miniatures are most often associated with cult activities. While it would not be particularly remarkable that some cult activity occurred at our site, thus far we have almost no evidence for it. In fact, we have generally argued that our site was a short term mercenary camp which would not preclude cult activity, but we might expect it to be fairly insubstantial and secondary to main function of the site.
We do have some evidence for Iron Age cult activity nearby and the miniatures as well as the presence of what appear to be Iron Age pottery in our dump assemblage may indicate that the storage pit was filled with material from beyond just the immediate vicinity and the periods most prominent at the site. I’ve begun to wonder whether our assemblage on Vigla includes material from this sanctuary or whether it simple represents the remains of cult activities associated with the soldiers on the site.
It is worth noting that Scott Moore, our very serious ceramicist, rejected my other argument: that people in olden tymes on Cyprus were just much, much smaller like the hobbits in all those Larry Potter stories.