Welcome to the Australian Archaeological Mission to Paphos in Cyprus
The Department of Archaeology of the University of Sydney has been excavating the site of the ancient Hellenistic-Roman theatre of Nea Paphos, under the auspices of the Department of Antiquities of the Republic of Cyprus since 1995. The project is directed by Emeritus Professor J.R. Green, Dr Smadar Gabrieli and Dr Craig Barker.
The excavations are conducted by the University of Sydney on behalf of the Department of Antiquities of Cyprus. The project has received financial sponsorship from the AAIA (Australian Archaeological Institute at Athens) since 2009, and since 2011 has been the official excavation project of the Nicholson Museum.
NEWS - 2016 Season
Would you like to work with us in Easter 2016. More details will be made available here once applications for student and volunteer positions are opened!
Tax deductible donations can be made to the University of Sydney now to help support our research in the future. Contact us now to find out more!
All archaeological excavations and study projects are expensive to operate. Our work is no different. We are not currently receiving any grants, so all our students and team members must contribute their travel costs and other expenses, and are reliant upon the generosity of supporters. We need your support!
Aphrodite's Island: Australian Archaeologists in Cyprus
For more information on the exhibition visit the Nicholson Museum's website, and to order the catalogue go to Abebooks.
Our Supporters and Colleagues:
The University of Sydney, the Nicholson Museum, the Australian Archaeological Institute at Athens and the Department of Antiquities, the Republic of Cyprus
ANCIENT PAPHOS AND THE TOWN'S THEATRE
Nea Paphos was the capital of the island of Cyprus in the Hellenistic and Roman periods. Local legend proclaims the city was founded in the end of the fourth century BC by a local king named Nikokles, although increasing archaeological evidence has been located for pre-"foundation" occupation in the area. Certainly the natural harbour made the location a favourable one for the changing trade patterns soon to spring up across the eastern Mediterranean in the wake of the conquests of Alexander the Great. By the beginning of the third century BC Cyprus is brought under the control of the Ptolemaic kingdom based in Alexandria in Egypt, and Paphos is made the island's capital. Paphos becomes a major trading emporio in the Hellenistic and Roman periods becuase of the protection provided by the harbour. The ancient city's significant archaeological remains were recognised in 1980 when Paphos was granted World Heritage listing and the creation of the Paphos Archaeological Park took place. This park incorporates the area of the ancient mosiaced houses including the famous House of Dionysos, the city's Roman Odeion, the Hellenistic necropolis known as the 'Tombs of the Kings' and the site of the theatre where the Australian team have been excavating. The World Heritage listing and the zoned archaeological park are designed to protect the city's heritage from the encrouchment of modern tourist development.
The site of the ancient theatre of Nea Paphos is located in the modern town of Kato Paphos. It was constructed into the southern slope of a hill known as Fabrika Hill since the Medieval period, which is in the very north-east of the ancient walled city. The north-east city gates would have been located very close to the theatre.
The theatre seems to have been constructed around 300 BC, and used as a venue for performance and entertainment for over six and a half centuries. We have been able to identify at least five major phases of remodelling and renovation during the theatre's history representing the changing nature of performance from Greek and Roman audiences, and responses to earthquake damage. At its peak, in the mid-second century AD under the Roman Antonine emperors when the stage building was facaded in marble, the theatre measured over 90 metres from side to side, and had a seating capacity for over 8000 spectators.
By the end of the third century AD, probably after the devastating earthquake of 365 AD, the theatre was abandoned and much of the stonework was robbed and the later quarried for use elsewhere in the town. After a period of abandonment, the site of the ancient theatre sees renewed activity in the 12th and 13th centuries AD, when the harbour of Paphos again become a major economic point of activity, this time for the Crusaders on their way to the Holy Land. Considerable attention is being paid by the Australian team to investigate the Medieval and post-Medieval histories of the site, areas that have, historically, often been neglected in Mediterranean archaeological excavations.
THE ARCHAEOLOGY OF THE PAPHOS THEATRE
VIDEO FOOTAGE OF THE 2007 SEASON
VIDEO FOOTAGE OF THE 2008 SEASON
See us on ABC Science online from 2012!
To find out more about our project contact:
Dr Craig Barker
c/- Nicholson Museum
The University of Sydney
ph: +61 (2) 9036 5409
fax: +61 (2) 9351 7305