Excavation of mysterious tomb of Laona in Cyprus reveals unexpected findings

Surprises were in store for archaeologists working on the second phase of excavations at the tumulus of Laona, in Palepaphos, near Kouklia village, which was a prosperous administrative centre of the island before the Hellenistic period. The excavations revealed new data on the dimensions of the mysterious mound, as well as on the area of ​​the fort located at the same spot.

In a press release the Department of Antiquities outlines the findings after the completion of the first phase of the 2022 annual field research of the University of Cyprus Archeology Research Unit, of the rare and mysterious mound of Laona, which until recently hid the existence of a rampart, the implementation of which required enormous manpower under the guidance of skilled engineers.

The Department of Antiquities explains that mounds of monumental dimensions, such as the Macedonian ones, were until recently unknown in Cyprus. In 2011, Laona hill, located one kilometre northeast of the sanctuary of Aphrodite at Kouklia, was identified in the PULP landscape analysis programme as a human-made mound of enormous dimensions, much larger than the Salamis mound, which had been erected over the “cenotaph of Nicocreon”.

However, the results of this year’s research held yet another surprise, as they overturned the perception that had been created about the course of the rampart and revealed the interventions that took place, in the context of erecting the mound. Instead of the expected westerly turn below the top of the mound (at 114m above sea level), the defensive monument takes an unexpected course, crossing diagonally across the northern side of the mound, below which it is preserved in exceptionally good condition. This development redefines the calculations concerning both the dimensions of the mound and the area of ​​the rampart, the western side of which will be sought next.

The Department of Antiquities reports that the excavations took place within 20 squares with a total area of ​​525 square metres. Together with the eastern part of the fort, the total visible length of this rare monument today exceeds 160 metres, while its area would have been at least 1,740 square metres. The width of the rampart is determined at 5 metres.

The construction method of the rampart is based on alternating layers of stones and bricks, the press release says.

It adds that the maximum documented height of the rampart at the point of the top of the northern scale is determined to be 8 m. It is noted that the complete disclosure of the scale, from the layers of the mound that have trapped it at a height of 8 metres, involves serious risks, and it will only be possible if it is accompanied by the immediate implementation of a consolidation and maintenance programme.

The construction of the fort goes back, according to the findings so far, to the 5th century BC. and is the work of the Greek royal dynasty of Paphos. The rampart is contemporary and appears to be functionally connected with the monuments (palace and laboratory complex) located on the acropolis of Hadjiabdullah, just 70 m. to the south.

In October the second phase of the research will be carried out and will be combined with an event that will concern the results of the research programmes carried out in Palepaphos by the Research Unit of Archeology of the University of Cyprus since 2002, and by the Department of History and Archeology of the University of Athens since 2021, in the context of the search for the structure of the urban fabric of the ancient state.

The event for the presentation of the results will take place on October 7, 2022 in the Medieval farmhouse, inside the Sanctuary of Aphrodite, and will welcome the collaboration of the archaeological schools of the two universities.

The event is organised by the Community Council of Kouklia and has been placed under the auspices of the Department of Antiquities of Cyprus.


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