Regular blog readers will know that there is an annual cycle of archaeological excavations at the Dreamer’s Bay site at RAF Akrotiri. The Ancient Akrotiri Project team, which is overseen by DIO and led by the University of Leicester School of Archaeology and Ancient History, in collaboration with colleagues from the Universities of Southampton, Cyprus and Athens, spent three weeks in April conducting further fieldwork. We were looking at remains in this area on the southern coast of the peninsula which appears to have comprised an ancient port, quarry and other facilities. The work was undertaken in close co-operation and liaison with RAF Akrotiri and DIO personnel.
This year’s work has really added to our understanding of the site.
Previous land archaeology seasons from 2015 to 2018 saw exploration of Roman shoreline buildings overlain by concentrations of later ceramics, largely late Roman/Byzantine jugs called amphorae. In 2018 we also explored a submerged ancient masonry breakwater and other archaeological remains on the seabed of Dreamer's Bay itself.
On this latest expedition we excavated a concentration of buildings on the hilltop overlooking the shoreline structures from the north. We also carried out further survey and sample excavations of the large complex of ancient quarries at the top of the 40m-high scarp overlooking Dreamer's Bay harbour.
The hilltop complex commanded a very wide field of view from Kourion around 13km to the north to Cape Zevgari to the west and round almost to Cape Gata in the east. It would have been extremely well sited both to spot approaching shipping and to act as a landmark for vessels making landfall at Akrotiri. The remains we found included several stone-founded structures with evidence of multiple phases suggesting an extended life. Pottery, roofing materials and coins attest occupation during the Byzantine period and to at least the sixth century, although construction during the Roman period cannot be ruled out.
In the quarry complex we surveyed very well-preserved traces of ancient rock-cutting, where the workers of the time produced squared blocks and round millstones. Sample excavation of heavily eroded masonry structures in the quarried landscape revealed finely plastered walls with simple painted decoration. A ceramic piped water supply probably also related to this complex, which is provisionally dated to the Roman era (1st-4th centuries AD). Finding such well-appointed buildings in the midst of an industrial landscape was quite a surprise; perhaps the spectacular sea view was deemed more important. The buildings overlay part of the quarrying, proving that at least some of it was earlier.
This fieldwork has added important elements to the emerging picture of a complex commercial and industrial coastscape at Dreamer's Bay with a history lasting several centuries. Further work on the harbour will follow in September.