Sector 3

The C-PEPL team of the UCLouvain has, since the start of the joint program in 2014, concentrated its efforts on the exploration of the north part of the Kokkinokremos hill at Pyla with the specific intention to find out if different or other types of architectural structures and occupation than those evidenced around the edge of the settlement could be identified. The general direction of the team is ascertained by Prof. J. Driessen but, between 2014 and 2017, fieldwork took place with Dr. S. Jusseret in charge, assisted by Dr. T. Claeys and Dr. S. Déderix, and in 2019-2021, under Dr. F. Gaignerot-Driessen (CNRS UMR 5133-Archéorient). In each campaign, N. Kress (aka Léo) was responsible for aerial coverage, topography and logistics of the entire Pyla team. Team members were either students of the UCLouvain, the UGent or UCyprus.

Test 3.1

Test 3.1 was positioned close to the highest point of the plateau in 2014. Initially excavated as a 10 m x 5 m test, it was later extended to the north and east by two smaller trenches (5 m x 2.5 m and 5 m x 2 m respectively). The area is damaged by erosion and agricultural exploitation and only two rubble walls with an earth floor between were preserved in a shallow bedrock depression. Several fine quality vases were found resting directly on, or slightly above, the floor surface. They include a complete mug – with pierced bottom, hence a rhyton – decorated with whorl shells, half of a large, bell-shaped krater with panel decoration of antithetic spirals and scale pattern, and an almost complete spindle bottle and a flask painted with red concentric motifs. Two successive extensions were undertaken in 2015 towards the west (resp. 2.5 by 5.0 m and 1.25 by 2.50 m).

Test 3.2

Test 3.2 was located 80 m to the northeast of Trench 3.1 and is close to the north-eastern slope close and about 15 m from where P. Dikaios had opened a trial (Sector 1). Again, there were very few traces but a possible occupation level was identified, with a few scattered body sherds, two bronze scraps and a bronze lunar or boat-shaped earring. In 2015, we extended Trench 3.2 towards the northwest, i.e. encroaching on the track, by adding a 5 by 5 m square to our initial trench. Two successive 5 by 5 m westwards extensions were excavated in 2016 to reach the edge of the plateau. Apart from sherds, no substantial remains were found.

Test 3.3

Trench 3.3, located 78 m to the northwest of Trench 3.2 and 90 m to the north of Trench 3.1, is located on the edge of the plateau and at the top of the north-eastern slope. The first trench installed to the very north (5 x 5 m) revealed poorly preserved walls but architectural remains allowed to distinguish three different spaces (Spaces 3.3.1-3. 3.3). A gate or entrance way may have been located here. The floor deposit included a single rough pyramidal terracotta loom weight, several large lithic tools, a fine but fragmentary small stirrup jar, a small pithos and ostrich egg fragments. Another larger pyramidal terracotta loom weight as well as a zoomorphic (duck-shaped?) stone weight found in the topsoil may have originally belonged to the same floor deposit. Space 3.1 may have been used as a courtyard used for food processing and other domestic activities. Space 3.2 had fragments of a large storage vase and, in a shallow pit, were found a ceramic vessel, a lithic tool, an unidentified lead object and two decorated spindle whorls. Space 3.3.3 did not yield other finds.

To the east of our initial test, a first trench of ca. 6 (northeast-southwest) by 19 m (northwest-southeast) was made in 2015, to which another trench of 5 (northwest-southeast) by 6.5 m (northeast-southwest) was added in 2016. In total, 12 additional spaces (Spaces 3.3.4-3.3.15) were brought to light. Unfortunately, architectural remains were often badly preserved but the discovery of well-preserved rock-cut pits, cut bedrock ledges and foundation trenches help to reconstruct the position of missing wall alignments. From the topsoil south of Space 3.3.6 come fragments of a Canaanite-type jar as well as a collection of small lead objects including lead clamps as used in pottery repairs and an intriguing lead item, shaped like a miniature oxhide ingot. It also yielded a cluster of seven terracotta loom weights, all different in shape but several pyramidal. Space 3.3.5 is provided with a rock-cut channel with a semi-circular section. Space 3.3.4 yielded a stone bowl, a Canaanite-jar type, three tuyères, a handle with an incised Cypro-Minoan sign and fragments of a Mycenaean pictorial conical rhyton but also a White Shaved Ware spindle bottle, two more tuyères and the nozzle of a stone pot-bellows. Space 3.3.7, south of Space 3.3.4, was only partly excavated and yielded a small pithos (its handles decorated with relief horns of consecration), the neck of another large pithos, a tuyère, a fragmentary stone trough and several lithic tools. Space yielded a series of finds related to metal-working activities which were found scattered on the surface of an ashy level (slag, possible crucible (and/or furnace?) fragments, tuyère fragments, bronze scraps and a very dense volcanic (?) stone possibly used as a tool (anvil?). Space was largely empty besides a copper (or bronze) needle and an irregular pit filled with a gravelly sediment (C36). The neck of a handleless Canaanite-type jar remained visible at the surface. Much to our surprise, excavation of the gravelly sediment around the base of this jar revealed an intact alabaster flask (inv. n° PK16 431), lying on its side. Evidently, the flask, an Egyptian product, had been carefully hidden behind the Canaanite-type jar. Careful cleaning of the flask at the Larnaka Museum by our conservator, C. Hadjivasili, showed it was painted with a garland of lotus flowers and had been filled with small items of value (knife, rings, cylinder seal, beads, etc.) in different materials (e.g. bronze, faience, bone or ivory). Space 3.3.11 had some slag, perhaps ore as well as bronze scrap, a cooking pot and a fragmentary stone trough which joined a fragment found between Spaces 3.3.13 and 3.3.22. Excavation of spaces 3.3.18-3.3.22 in 2017 produced fragments of pithoi of various sizes and shapes, a fragmentary faience object decorated with lotus flowers, a juglet decorated with a bird motif, a spindle bottle, a bowl, a whetstone, a bent bronze blade and several lithic tools. Space 3.3.22 also produced a repaired wall bracket. Space 3.3.19 had pithos fragments and remains of a bowl, Space 3.3.20 three smashed vessels and a fragment of a bronze blade. Space 3.3.16 had a floor assemblage that included two Sardinian olle a colletto. Apart from a fragmentary pithos and an almost complete Egyptian alabaster amphora, Space 3.3.23 was empty. Excavation in 2021 of 3.3.24 also defined a deep shaft (1.80 m) and added more vases.

Test 3.4

Test 3.4 was excavated in 2015 as a 5 by 5 m test and is located at the highest point of the Kokkinokremos plateau. The initial test was extended towards the north and west in 2016, eventually becoming a 10 by 10 m area. A narrow extension (2 by 20 m) was eventually added to the north of Trench 3.4 at the end of the 2016 season as to reach where the casemate wall to the north was expected. 10 spaces (3.4.1 to 3.4.10) were brought to light but walls were often poorly preserved. Space 3.4.1 may have been a corridor; it had a basalt plate in its southwest corner as well as fragments of a two-handled basin and a tray. Space 3.4.2 produced a considerable number of fragmentary vases including Canaanite-type jars, pithoi, kraters, jugs, spindle bottles, cooking pots and an almost complete deep bowl decorated with red bands. Excavation in 3.4.6 yielded a fragmentary Pastoral Style amphoroid krater depicting bulls and hybrid animals and a bowl in monochrome ware with wishbone handle, while Space 3.4.9 produced several fragmentary vessels including fragments of an alabaster vase and a Mycenaean mug. To the very north, an unexpectedly rather well-preserved stretch of the casemate wall, diagonally crossing the length of the test from the southwest to the northeast for a distance of ca. 12.5 m, was found in 2017. In Space 3.4.13 two pithoi and a few smaller vases were found while in 3.4.12 several Canaanite jars, local decorated jugs, bowls, cooking pots, juglets, spindle bottle and fragments of pithoid vases were encountered as well as nine lithic tools, some metal flakes, two fragments of scrap bronze, a single bronze rivet and three small lead objects, probably clamps. The cleaning of a bedrock depression in this room yielded a bronze spearhead and sling shot, hidden beneath a large stone. Space 3.3.14 preserved two standing vases and pieces of bronze.

Test 3.5

Test 3.5 is located c. 50 m to the southeast of Trench 3.1 and c. 80 m to the southwest of Trench 3.2. It failed to reveal substantial archaeological remains apart from a few sherds, two (possible) stone tools and a bronze coin.

Test 3.6

Test 3.6, measuring 5 by 10 m, was opened against a better-preserved portion of a wall line at a lower level against the north slope of the Kokkinokremos hill. The date of this feature remains presently unclear since only limited pottery was found associated with it.

Test 3.7

Test 3.7 was opened in the centre of the plateau. No bedrock was exposed in the sounding that went down to -55 cm. These negative results may possibly reflect the presence of open areas within the Late Bronze Age settlement structure.

Test 3.8

Test 3.8 was opened in 2019. It did not yield structural evidence.

Test 3.9

Test 3.9 was opened in 2019. It did not yield structural evidence.

Test 3.10

Test 3.10 is situated ca 150 m to the southwest of Test 3.3. Its exploration was started in 2019 and continued in 2021 when a larger part of the building or complex was exposed, consisting of a potentially unroofed courtyard from where Space 3.10.1 can be accessed. This yielded several bronze fragments, including a small plaque depicting the head of a male figure with a beard and characteristic headgear as well as a bronze chisel. An important quantity of plaster fragments suggests that the walls of Space 3.10.1 were carefully coated. The adjacent space, 3.10.2, yielded an important ceramic assemblage, including six loomweights, lithic tools, a stone basin, two Canaanite jars, a pithos and other vessels.