Introduction

In the central part of Cyprus, the Mesaoria plain is bordered on its southern side by limestone hills. Athienou is situated in the foothills, in close proximity of both the central plain and mining districts such as Troulli or Sha. The site of Bamboulari tis Koukouninas is situated on a natural hillock, which rises some 2 m above its surroundings. It covers some 2500 sqm which have been excavated down to virgin soil for more than 90% (Fig. 11.1).1 The lowest archaeological layers which have been attested during these excavations have been assigned to the transitional period MC III-LC I.2 From then on, the site was continually occupied until the first part of LC III.

The Late Bronze Age remains have been discovered in three strata (strata IV-II). In stratum IV (MC III-LC I), only a few deep and shallow pits were discovered; they did not contain any Mycenaean pottery.3 Some of the remains in stratum III may have an LC I date, but the majority date to LC II.4 Architectural remains belonging to this phase have been found in the north-western part of the site only (Fig. 11.1). One building has been discovered with a large room, possessing a plaster floor. At least two other rooms, also with a plaster floor, belonged to this building as well. South of these three rooms, a courtyard has been discovered. Three pits dug were dug in the pavement of the courtyard. Directly east of the courtyard, there were three deep, cylindrical pits; a group of pits further east were more shallow. During LC III, the building was enlarged with several rooms in the eastern part of the site.5 Other constructions, mainly to do with metal working, also date to this period.

The total number of miniature juglets which have been found in stratum III at Athienou-Bamboulari tis Koukouninas has been estimated at 10,000.6 Consequently, the site has been interpreted as a sanctuary, which formed a regional centre in networks of production and exchange.7 Associated with the cultic activities was metal production, as is indicated by copper ore and nodules.8 No other settlement remains have been discovered in the vicinity of the site, but the nearby cemetery reportedly has Late Bronze Age graves.9 It is unclear who controlled the sanctuary. Possibly, people living in

1 In 1952 H.W. Catling visited Bamboulari tis Koukou ninas during the Cyprus survey, see Catling 1962, 161:

site no. 23. In 1958 soundings were made by Ch.

Paraskeva on behalf of the Department of Antiquities of Cyprus, see Karageorghis 1959, 354; Megaw 1959,

26-27. In 1971 and 1972 the Hebrew University of

Jerusalem conducted two excavation campaigns, which were directed by T. Dothan and A. Ben-Tor, see

Dothan & Ben Tor 1983. Archaeological research to the south-west of the site has been in progress since

1990, see Herscher 1998, 339-340 (with further refs.).

5 Dothan & Ben-Tor 1983, 6-14. These rooms were situated in the area of pits 552 and 637, east of wall 4.

8 Maddin, Muhly & Wheeler 1983.

Fig. 11.1 Athienou: site plan indicating Mycenaean pottery

the vicinity had claims on the workings of the sanctuary. The important role of the site in the distribution of copper from the mining districts to coastal centres, however, makes it likely that élites from an urban coastal centre also exerted strong influence.10

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