After a couple of long, high-visibility posts this week, I wanted to offer something more bite sized. I’ve been working on wrapping up some of the odds and ends on the Pyle-Koutsopetria survey volume which he hope to have ready for final(ish) submission by the end of August. Among the final projects is putting together a short section on what we think is a Venetian or Ottoman period fortification wall.
I’ve blogged on this before, so it’s nothing revolutionary. But I do have a couple of decent plans prepared now.
Here’s the text:
During the first field season, field walkers discovered a short stretch of poorly preserved wall running approximately east to west parallel to the main road between Dhekelia and Larnaka. The wall itself preserved only small patches of poorly preserved limey mortar and unworked stone most likely quarried from the earlier remains. 20 m north of the course of the wall, the plough had cut through a section of plaster flooring revealing the ceramic packing below. Considering the proximity to the east-west wall, we assumed that this might be of the same date. The ceramics in the floor packing included coarse ware of Late Roman date.
The wall itself is overgrown with shrubs and largely obscured by earth. It appears to run for approximately 30 m east to west and it might include a small dogleg. The course of the wall appears to follow an early, but visible, holocene beach ridge perhaps consolodated by a now destroyed road bed. The location of the beach ridge indicates that most of the embayment was infilled, and if the beach ridge and the wall are contemporary, this feature likely post-dates antiquity.
It seems probable that the wall here represents the remains of a small fortification described by Cesnola in the 1880s when he visited the site on his way to his summer home in Ormidhia:
“Here I found the stone walls of an oblong structure, not older than the Venetian occupation of the island. It had been a small fort mounted with three guns, the embrasures of which are still standing. Along the southeast coast there are several of these guard-houses, built near the shore on elevated ground, some of which, now dismantled and roofless, are of Turkish construction, and two or three hundred years old.”
The pirates, according to Cesnola’s informants, availed themselves to the the nearby cave which we call today Mavrospilios, where they would hold wealthy islanders for ransome. The small scatter of Late Medieval pottery in the area would tend to confirm Cesnola’s identification of these walls as part of a small coastal battery.
It is worth observing that the presence of such a coastal battery probably indicates the continued availability of the small inlet at the site.
One more little section to add here is that the Venetian fort coincides perfectly with the “ruined church” on an earlier plan of the site. I’ve blogged on this before as well, but I fixed a little georeferencing bug to allow the map and my plan to overlap precisely. The only difference between our plans of the site is that I suggest that the earlier road passed in front of the fortification more or less along the line of the existing coastal road. The 19th century plan routes the roads behind the fortification. In both cases, the earlier road follows the route of the earlier beach ridge and probably marks the extent of the small inlet at the site when the fortification was constructed.