EXCAVATIONS AT THE LATE BRONZE AGE HARBOUR CITY OF HALA SULTAN TEKKE, CYPRUS


Air photograph of Hala Sultan Tekke with the three new city quarters (left), Area 8 (excavated by P. Åström; centre/right) and Area A (upper right corner)
Locally produced „Horned God Krater“ from City Quarter 2, Stratum 2

Renewed excavations at Hala Sultan Tekke (Area 6), a 25+ ha large harbour city close to Larnaca, have been carried out under the direction of Peter M. Fischer from the Gothenburg University since 2010. The excavations are financed by the Swedish Söderberg Foundations, the Institute for Aegean Prehistory (INSTAP), the Royal Swedish Academy of Letters, History and Antiquities 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.

Another objective is the disclosure of the total extent of the city supported by geophysical prospection. As yet, three hitherto unknown city quarters (City Quarters 1–3) were discovered and (partly) excavated. In these new city quarters combined small-scale industrial and domestic activities took place. Amongst the most important findings are locally produced pictorial pottery, which is unique and hints at the existence of a “Hala Sultan Tekke painter”, a pit with more than 300 kg of remains from copper-working (tapped slag, furnace walls, fragments of tuyères and crucibles, copper/bronze fragments, pieces of raw copper) and a deposit of more than 25 kg of murex shells and three basins for purple dying.

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 or the beginning of the 12th century (i.e. the LC IIC/IIIA transition), 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 yet.

In 2014, another geophysical prospection covering 1.1 ha took place in Area A, which is on a plateau some 600 m to the south-east of City Quarter 1 near the mosque of Hala Sultan Tekke. The geomagnetic survey indicated more than 80 circular anomalies (“pits”) of which 24 have been excavated as yet. Most of them turned out to represent Late Cypriot wells, four are preliminarily interpreted as offering pits and two are tombs. One of them, Tomb X, is one of the richest tombs found so far on Cyprus and contained at least 17 humans, more than 80 complete ceramic vessels, numerous pieces of jewellery, scarabs and cylinder seals, and a bronze dagger. Some of these pits – including Tomb X – contained material dating from the first part of the Late Cypriot Bronze Age and therefore attest the assumed existence of an older settlement at Hala Sultan Tekke dating from the 16th century BCE onwards. 

Publications

Publications

  • P. M. Fischer and T. Bürge, Two Late Cypriot City Quarters at Hala Sultan Tekke. The Söderberg Expedition 2010—2017 (Studies in Mediterranean Archaeology 147) Uppsala 2018.
  • T. Bürge, Late Bronze Age Offering Pits from Hala Sultan Tekke, Cyprus: Diachronic Perspectives of Activities, Ceremonies and Rituals in a Suburban Area, in: B. Horejs , C. Schwall, V. Müller, M. Luciani, M. Ritter, M. Guidetti, R.B. Salisbury, F. Höflmayer and T. Bürge (eds.), Proceedings of the 10th International Congress on the Archaeology of the Ancient Near East. Wiesbaden 2018, 209–220.
  • P. M. Fischer and T. Bürge, Tombs and Offering Pits at the Late Bronze Age Metropolis of Hala Sultan Tekke, Cyprus. Bulletin of the American Schools of Oriental Research 377, 2017, 161–218.
  • T. Bürge, Ritual Depositions versus Garbage Pits: A Re-evaluation of Pottery Deposits and Offering Pits at the Late Bronze Age City of Hala Sultan Tekke, Cyprus. Egypt and the Levant 27, 2017, 133–150.
  • P. M. Fischer and T. Bürge, The New Swedish Cyprus Expedition 2016: Excavations at Hala Sultan Tekke (The Söderberg Expedition). Preliminary Results. Opuscula. Annual of the Swedish Institutes in Athens and Rome 10, 2017, 50–93.
  • T. Bürge and P.M. Fischer, Reiche Funde aus einer spätbronzezeitlichen Metropole: Gräber und Opfergruben in Hala Sultan Tekke. Antike Welt. Zeitschrift für Archäologie und Kulturgeschichte 4/2017, 76–83.
  • P. M. Fischer, The Late Bronze Age Harbour City of Hala Sultan Tekke. Results from the New Swedish Cyprus Expedition 2010–2015, in: G. Bourogiannis and C. Mühlenbock (eds.), Ancient Cyprus today: Museum Collections and New Research Approaches to the Archaeology of Cyprus (Studies in Mediterranean Archaeology Pocket Book 184) Uppsala 2016, 69–78.
  • T. Bürge, Recently Discovered Cylinder Seals at Hala Sultan Tekke, in: G. Bourogiannis and C. Mühlenbock (eds.), Ancient Cyprus today: Museum Collections and New Research Approaches to the Archaeology of Cyprus (Studies in Mediterranean Archaeology Pocket Book 184) Uppsala 2016, 229–238.
  • P. M. Fischer and T. Bürge, The New Swedish Cyprus Expedition 2015: Excavations at Hala Sultan Tekke. Preliminary Results. Opuscula 9, 2016, 33–58.
  • P. M. Fischer and T. Bürge, The New Swedish Cyprus Expedition 2014: Excavations at Hala Sultan Tekke. Preliminary Results. Opuscula 8, 2015, 27–79.
  • P. M. Fischer and T. Bürge, The New Swedish Cyprus Expedition 2013: Excavations at Hala Sultan Tekke. Preliminary Results. Opuscula 7, 2014, 61–106.
  • P. M. Fischer and T. Bürge, The New Swedish Cyprus Expedition 2012: Excavations at Hala Sultan Tekke. Preliminary Results. Opuscula 6, 2013, 45–79.
  • P. M. Fischer, The New Swedish Cyprus Expedition 2011: Excavations at Hala Sultan Tekke. Preliminary Results. Opuscula 5, 2012, 89–112.
  • P. M. Fischer, The New Swedish Cyprus Expedition 2010. Excavations at Dromolaxia Vizatzia/Hala Sultan Tekke. Preliminary Results. Opuscula. Annual of the Swedish Institutes in Athens and Rome 4, 2011, 69–89.