Ancient Akrotiri project, Cyprus

Archaeological research project on an ancient harbour and other Classical and Byzantine settlements at Akrotiri, Cyprus. A collaboration with the University of Southampton, UK Ministry of Defence and local communities.

In September 2015, September 2016 and April 2017, teams of School and ULAS staff and students have conducted rescue excavations on sea-threatened late Roman/early Byzantine buildings at Dreamer's Bay, Akrotiri, Cyprus. The remains formed part of an ancient port site inside the modern Royal Air Force base on the Akrotiri peninsula, at the southernmost point of Cyprus. The work is being conducted on behalf of the UK's Defence Infrastructure Organisation, which looks after heritage sites inside the British Sovereign Bases on the island, and is with the agreement of the Republic of Cyprus Department of Antiquities. The project is directed by Prof Simon James, with  Vicki Score of ULAS as field director. The excavation was featured on Forces TV. It was runner-up in the Heritage Project category in the UK Ministry of Defence Sanctuary Awards for 2017.

Late Roman or early Byzantine masonry building foundations, part of the ancient port settlement at Akrotiri, Cyprus

The immediate reason for the work is that ancient harbour buildings on the shoreline are being eroded by wave action during winter storms. Urgent excavation is needed to document what will soon be lost. However, this work also creates an opportunity to pursue wider archaeological research objectives on the Akrotiri peninsula, a prominent feature of the Cypriot coastline.

The wider objective of the Ancient Akrotiri project is to understand the Dreamer's Bay port, and place it in the context of the wider peninsula which lay between the major ancient cities of Kourion and Amathous. The Late Roman/Byzantine harbour at Dreamer's Bay appears to be part of an extensive but little-explored Classical to Late Antique settlement pattern on the former island, now linked to Cyprus by huge tombolo beaches. A number of sites are known, at one of which Dr Eleni Procopiou of the Department of Antiquities is revealing  a spectacular Byzantine church. The vital maritime aspect of the port and the region is being explored in collaboration with the University of Southampton's Centre for Maritime Archaeology and the PortusLimen Project.

Alongside its academic research objectives, the project is also intended to pursue the broader aims of the School in education, widening participation and outreach, through collaboration with other organisations. We are in close cooperation with both UK and Cypriot stakeholders, including the joint UK/Cyprus Akrotiri Environment Education and Information Centre and the local archaeological group, the Western Sovereign Base Areas Archaeological Society.

During the course of the pilot season, we plan not only to develop future fieldwork plans at Akrotiri, but also to investigate how we might, so far as is possible in and around an active military airbase, also involve the base community and local schools in archaeology, and generally help promote awareness and knowledge of Akrotiri’s archaeological heritage.

This project has been generously funded by the University of Leicester, the Council for British Research in the Levant, the Roman Society and the Honor Frost Foundation. We are also very grateful to the UK Ministry of Defence, especially the Defence Infrastructure Organisation, UK Sovereign Base Areas Administration and RAF Akrotiri for their strong support and assistance.

Interim Reports

Dreamers Bay project interim reports can be accessed via these links:

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