Results of the first two seasons of underwater surveys at Episkopi Bay and Akrotiri, Cyprus



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During the summers of 2003 and 2004, a small team of graduate students initiated an underwater archaeological survey off the coast of Cyprus as part of the University of Cincinnati excavations at Episkopi-Bamboula. With the support of the Institute of Nautical Archaeology (INA) at Texas A&M University and RPM Nautical Foundation, the project explored the seabed south and west of the Akrotiri Peninsula at Episkopi Bay. The overall aim of this ongoing diachronic survey is to determine the extent and nature of maritime contacts at Episkopi-Bamboula and its Greco-Roman successor, Kourion, from the Bronze Age through the Byzantine period. Efforts during these first two seasons concentrated on simple visual inspection of several promising areas near dangerous cliffs, offshore rocks and shallow reefs, as well as potential harbors and anchorages. The team recorded substantial pottery and anchor assemblages at Dreamer?s Bay, Cape Zevgari, and Avdimou Bay, including at least three shipwreck sites. Throughout the area, amphoras and anchors attest to varying levels of maritime activity over the past three millennia.The underwater material record reveals a modest level of Classical trade, followed by a respectable increase during the Hellenistic era. While very little material thus far can be attributed to the earlier Imperial centuries, the greatest quantities in terms of both individual sherds and coherent assemblages speaks strongly to intense trade during the Late Roman (Early Byzantine) period, from the fourth through the seventh century. Not surprisingly, this rapid floruit in maritime trade parallels the expansion of settlement throughout the island, including its eventual collapse in the middle of the seventh century.