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The Lycoming College Archaeology Program announced the completion of its 2010 expedition to Idalion, Cyprus, under the direction of Dr. Pamela Gaber, professor of archaeology and Judaic studies and director of Lycoming's field school.
Students participating in this year's dig include Bill Blatchly, Danielle Coady, Sara Fajardo, Monica Martinez, Samantha Silverberg, Rebecca Taggert and Elizabeth Treptow. Recent Lycoming graduates, who comprised a large portion of the expedition's staff, were Michelle Burpoe '09, Bryant Miles '10, Lena Nieves '09, Brooke Pollio '07 (registrar), Elizabeth Sevastana '09 and Stephanie Wanek '06 (field supervisor).
During the seven-week season, the College's expedition returned to the terrace of the East Acropolis, Mouti tou Arvili, to re-open excavations in the Adonis Temenos, or sacred grove.
According to Gaber, the removal of several years of accumulated rain wash revealed extraordinary vessels sitting on what appeared to be the last used floor of the sanctuary. The findings indicate that the sanctuary was used until the first century B.C.E., and the groupings of whole vessels on the floor covered with mud-brick debris may show that it was abandoned in somewhat of a rush.
"It's hard to imagine celebrants of a ritual leaving precious objects - or even utilitarian pieces of some value - without making a push to recover them unless they had to leave in a hurry," says Gaber.
Of great interest to the expedition was the discovery of the limits of the Hellenistic altar in the Adonis Temenos. Its huge size demonstrates the importance of the cult of the consort of the Great Mother at Idalion in the Hellenistic period.
In the area known as the "Sanctuary of the Paired Dieties," the group discovered that, in addition to worshipping a pair of faceless male and female deities, ancient worshippers donated numerous limestone votive figures.
This season's work revealed more Roman installations in the eastern portion of the sanctuary. "There is little doubt this extremely ancient Temple, going back to the Cypro-Geometric period, was dedicated to the Great Goddess of Cyprus, the Wanassa, or 'Mistress of Animals,' sometimes represented as Artemis, and her consort who came to be called Adonis in later centuries," indicates Gaber.
New this year, the expedition also explored the industrial area to the east of the Lymbia Road. Findings included sculpture fragments and statuettes washed down from Adonis Temenos, which lies directly uphill.
Next year, the expedition hopes to continue to pursue this year's leads.
"We plan to investigate the limits of the 'Sanctuary of the Paired Deities,' to explore the Hellenistic industrial complex and to find the earlier levels of the Adonis Temenos," says Gaber. "All of our work is undertaken with the deep gratitude to the Department of Antiquities of Cyprus, and with the support of the Cyprus American Archaeological Research Institute."
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