Goals of the Season at Idalion
Herakles figure found in 2005 in the Sanctuary of the Paired Deities.
Current excavations are focused on two sanctuaries at Idalion. The Hellenistic period of the Sanctuary of Adonis was excavated during the 1990’s. In 2012 we opened trenches to investigate the earlier phases of use of this important “sacred grove.” In much of the upper terrace of the sacred grove we found the earliest, 11th century use surfaces on bedrock. This work will continue in future digs. There are multiple indicators that the cult of Adonis at Idalion was closely related to the first millennium BCE religion of ancient Israel.
The second major religious center under investigation during the 2012 and 2013 season was the “Sanctuary of the Paired Deities.” Since 2002 we have been digging in a remarkable religious structure that has revealed a series of stone-built altars with ash pits much like those at Arad and Dan in Israel. In addition, an astounding pair of standing stones was found in situ, closely related to those found at Arad (Near Eastern Archaeology vol. 71 nos. 1-2, pp. 52-62). These standing stones, together with a series of limestone figures (both female and male) have lent the sanctuary its working name. During the 2012 season we took out the standing stones and found the remains of a pair of standing wooden columns, apparently destroyed during the conquest of Idalion around 450 BCE. In 2013 we opened several trenches to the north and east that changed our understanding of this sanctuary. In future digs, we plan to continue investigating this Temple. Everything we find here sheds light on first millennium BCE religion in the Levant, including the religion of Biblical Israel.
An exciting new development in 2010 and 2011: we re-opened what was thought to be a Roman villa located in 1971 by the previous American excavators. What we found is either an impressive Hellenistic industrial installation, or a major Hellenistic bath house that continued in use in the Roman period. During the 2013 season we found what may be indicators of an earlier dying industry that may have continued into the Hellenistic period. No matter which it turns out to be, it will surely give us important insights into life in Cyprus in the last five centuries BCE-1st century CE.