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


Hala Sultan Tekke was one of the most important urban centres of the Eastern Mediterranean during the Late Bronze Age. The city is located on the southern coast, on the shore of the present-day Larnaca Salt Lake, which in ancient times was connected to the Mediterranean, thus providing one of the best protected harbours on the island. The site has been excavated since the early 1970s – first under the direction of Paul Åström, and since 2010 of Peter M. Fischer.

The main aims of the renewed excavations are

  • to explore the complete occupational sequence of Hala Sultan Tekke and to contribute to the discussion on relative and absolute chronology of the late Middle Cypriot and the early Late Cypriot periods including the period in which the much-debated Minoan eruption of the Thera volcano took place;
  • to determine the total extent of the city and study its layout;
  • to study the burial customs and mortuary rituals;
  • to research the nature and extent of the intercultural relations;
  • and to investigate the 13th/12th century BCE transition in connection with possible climatic changes and migration phenomena (see also The Collapse of Bronze Age Societies), and the causes for the destruction and final abandonment of the city around 1150 BCE.

In addition to the most recent occupational phase, the end of which can be dated to the mid-12th century BCE, at least four older phases of occupation can be traced in the settlement. These can preliminarily be dated to the 15th/14th through early 12th centuries BCE, whereas material evidence from tombs attests to an even earlier date of occupation.

Geophysical prospecting covering approximately 23 ha led to the discovery of new city quarters with domestic, industrial and possible administrative and/or religious buildings, as well as sub-urban areas characterised by the presence of tombs, wells and other shafts most likely reflecting ritual activities.

The presence of imported pottery and luxury commodities attests to far-reaching intercultural connections of the city to all regions in the eastern Mediterranean including the Aegean, Anatolia, the Northern and Southern Levant and Egypt, and even more remote regions, such as Sardinia. The material evidence points to Hala Sultan Tekke as one of the main trade centres in the eastern Mediterranean at the end of the Middle and throughout the entire Late Bronze Age. Studies of other finds including botanical and faunal remains confirm that the economy of Hala Sultan Tekke, in addition to trade, was based on textile production, purple dying, metallurgy, agriculture and animal husbandry. Urban metallurgy is substantiated by more than a ton of copper slag and ore in addition to remains of furnaces, tuyères and crucibles.

Publications

Publications

  • P. M. Fischer and T. Bürge, The New Swedish Cyprus Expedition 2018: Excavations at Hala Sultan Tekke (The Söderberg Expedition). Preliminary Results. Opuscula. Annual of the Swedish Institutes in Athens and Rome 12, 2019, 287–326.
  • P. M. Fischer and T. Bürge, The New Swedish Cyprus Expedition 2017: Excavations at Hala Sultan Tekke (The Söderberg Expedition). Preliminary Results. Opuscula. Annual of the Swedish Institutes in Athens and Rome 11, 2018, 29–79.
  • 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.