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Excavations at the Late Bronze Age Harbour City of Hala Sultan Tekke, Cyprus

Cylinder seals from Area 6, Stratum 1 (1) and Area 6 West, „Stratum 3“ (2 and 3)
„Horned God Krater“ from Area 6 West, Stratum 2

Renewed excavations at Hala Sultan Tekke (Area 6), a 25+ ha large harbour city close to Larnaca, were carried out under the direction of Peter M. Fischer from the Gothenburg University 2010–2012. The excavations are financed by the Swedish Söderberg Foundations, the Institute for Aegean Prehistory (INSTAP) and the Royal Society of Arts and Sciences in Gothenburg.

Previous excavations directed by the late Paul Åström focused on the latest occupation (viz. our Stratum 1). One of the main goals of the new excavations is to explore the complete occupational sequence of Hala Sultan Tekke and thereby to contribute to the discussion on relative and absolute chronology of the crucial period which covers the late Middle Cypriote and the Late Cypriote IA–IB periods during which the much debated Minoan eruption of the Thera volcano took place.

In addition to complementary information on the 12th century level (Stratum 1) two more levels of occupation could so far be verified: Stratum 2, preliminarily placed at the end of the 13th century, and Stratum 3 which is tentatively placed in the 14th or 13th centuries BCE. The chronology is mainly based on radiocarbon dates. Whereas Strata 1 and 2 produced fairly intact architectural remains, Stratum 3 suffered from the building activities of the two more recent strata. In consequence, any detailed interpretation of the finds from Stratum 3 has not been possible.

Stratum 2 (and 3) produced numerous examples of ceramic wares from the first half of the Late Cypriote period. e.g. White Slip I, Base-ring I, Red-on-Red/Black etc.  Fig. 1). A number of shards from this period were found during a surface survey west of Area 6, where in June 2012 another radar survey (in addition to that from 2010) has been carried out.

The results from a 1.3 ha Ground-Penetrating Radar (GPR) survey in 2012 were confirmed during the 2013 excavations of a limited area of 200 m² west of Area 6 (= Area 6W). Three phases of occupation were partly exposed there. The most recent phase, Stratum 1, contained living and working facilities, e.g. for spinning, weaving and purple dyeing. Textile production also took place in (the older) Stratum 2, where the major activity was metal-working: 300 kg of remains from copper-working consist of tapped slag, furnace walls, fragments of at least five tuyères, crucible fragments, copper/bronze fragments and pieces of raw copper. Another of these unique kraters of White Painted Wheel-made Pictorial Style (WPPS) was found. It was termed “Horned God Krater” on account of one of the decorative elements. These kraters may lead to the conclusion that there was a “Hala Sultan Tekke painter”. The oldest phase of occupation so far, “Stratum 3”, which is actually a reused and looted tomb, produced two cylinder seals and numerous textile-production-related finds. The findings from test trenches west of the main area suggest a street which separates two city quarters: one to the east (our main area) and one to the west. Test excavations in the western city quarter produced three figurines of two females and a horse. A tomb was exposed during rescue excavations.