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Pyla-Koutsopetria Archaeological Project II: Geophysics and Excavation

Datasets associated with excavations at Hellenistic and Late Antique sites in southern Cyprus

Project Abstract

The coastal sites of Pyla-Vigla and Pyla-Koutsopetria near Larnaca, Cyprus, have produced rich archaeological assemblages dating between the Iron Age and Late Roman periods. The Pyla-Koutsopetria Archaeological Project (PKAP) previously mapped the surface distribution of these sites through a program of pedestrian survey (2004-2011) across 100 ha of the micro-region; the data from that earlier research program at the Open Context site may be downloaded / viewed at Pyla-Koutsopetria I: Pedestrian Survey. This new dataset publishes the results of the second phase of investigation (2007-2017) and is designed to accompany a second published volume about next-phase excavations at the site (cf. Hadjicosti et al., below). Our work during these years included stratigraphic excavation at Vigla, a fortified ridgetop settlement dating to the late 4th-early 3rd centuries BCE, and Koutsopetria, a sprawling coastal town that flourished in the 5th-7th centuries CE. With the support of Dr. Maria Hadjicosti, we also studied and catalogued the objects recovered from rescue excavations at Koutsopetria in the late 1990s.

The main body of evidence published at this site concerns ten small trenches at Vigla and two trenches at Koutsopetria – all excavated by teams of the Pyla-Koutsopetria Archaeological Project in 2008, 2009, and 2012. Excavation units were small (typically smaller than 10 square meters) and removed sediments and artifacts according to natural and cultural stratigraphic units. All earth was sifted through one-centimeter sieves and all objects were collected. With this publication, we release two data tables, numerous photographs and illustrations, and supporting documentation (reports and notebooks).

The data published here does not include original illustrations of the finds or contexts from Dr. Hadjicosti’s earlier trial excavations although it does include our own photographs and illustrations of those objects and contexts. Earlier photos and illustrations by Dr. Hadjicosti’s team will be published in the forthcoming volume by Hadjicosti et al. The published datasets also do not include findings from more recent and ongoing stratigraphic excavations (2018-2019) at the site of Vigla under the direction of Dr. Brandon Olson.

Tables and Objects

The datasets published at this site include the following:

  • Photos of ten excavation trenches, including images of stratigraphic units, scarp walls, features, and artifacts in situ (n = 1,138)
  • Plan view and profile illustrations of PKAP trenches, showing stratigraphic units (bottoms and tops), scarp walls, features, and artifacts in situ generated from GIS files or original drawings (n = 118)
  • Images of artifacts discovered during excavation of Pyla-Koutsopetria in the 1990s and by PKAP teams in 2008, 2009, and 2012: scanned illustrations (316) and digital photos (1,278)
  • Documents: trench reports and summaries of PKAP seasons (16) and final season reports (3)
  • Stratigraphic unit descriptions
  • CSV tables containing the stratigraphic unit data and finds
  • GIS shapefiles showing locations of excavation units

Potential Applications of the Data

The collection of objects from excavations at Pyla-Koutsopetria and Pyla-Vigla have several potential values for researchers.

The Late Roman assemblage at Pyla-Koutsopetria includes ceramic, stone, and metal objects from a building in a coastal town that collapsed sometime after the seventh century CE. The building was an annex room associated with an early Christian basilica immediately to the north. Some of the artifacts (4000 series) come from the floor of this building or the collapsed upper stories and walls; other objects (7000 series) come from contexts immediately outside of the building. The assemblage has value for assessing connectivity, religion, and settlement at a small-sized coastal town that flourished between the 5th and 7th centuries.

The Classical-Hellenistic assemblages at Pyla-Vigla (5000 series) represents a series of stratigraphic contexts from a fortified settlement dating to the late fourth to early third centuries BCE. Given the frequency of bronze and iron weapons at the site, the ordinary utensils of domestic life, and the massive fortification wall that circumvented the acropolis, the site has been interpreted as a fortified garrison that overlooked seaward traffic along the southern coast of Cyprus and coastal roads connecting Kition and Salamis in the early Hellenistic period. The assemblage comes from two kinds of contexts: 1) trenches intersecting domestic buildings on the plateau and 2) those placed on or adjacent to the fortification wall that enclosed the settlement.

The excavated remains at Vigla also have value for comparing surface survey data with excavation units. The survey of the plateau prior to excavations provides a point of comparison with sub-surface deposits.

Methodological Notes

A preliminary review of our excavation methods is available through the documentation included in this publication, especially the trench reports and final reports associated with our work. A formal albeit brief overview of methods is available in Olson et al. 2013 and Caraher et al. 2017. A longer review has been prepared for inclusion in Hadjicosti et al. (forthcoming).

All excavations carried out by PKAP were stratigraphic; earlier excavations at Koutsopetria (found in 4000-series units) were non-stratigraphic.

Current Disposition of the Collections

All excavated finds were cleaned, labeled, analyzed, and stored at the Larnaca District Archaeological Museum and its nearby facilities at Terra Umbra.


The work of this project was carried out under a permit issued by the Cyprus Department of Antiquities, in cooperation with Dr. Marjia Hadjicosti, director emerita of the Department of Antiquities.

Excavation work was supported financially through grants from the Institute for Aegean Prehistory, Indiana University of Pennsylvania, University of North Dakota, and Messiah College. An internal grant from Messiah College funded the preparation and publication of the project in Open Context.

Learn More

For the project’s preliminary publication of findings from Pyla-Vigla, see Olson et al. 2013

A publication of the main findings of the excavations and study at Pyla- Koutsopetria and Pyla-Vigla is in preparation.

Related Publications

Caraher, William, R. Scott Moore, Dimitri Nakassis, and David K. Pettegrew. “Pyla Koutsopetria Koutsopetria Archaeological Project: Recent Work at the Site of Pyla-Vikla.” Report of the Department of Antiquities, Cyprus, 2011-2012 (2017): 443-459.

Caraher, William, R. Scott Moore, David K. Pettegrew. Pyla-Koutsopetria I: Archaeological Survey of an Ancient Coastal Town . ASOR Archaeological Reports 21. Boston: American Schools of Oriental Research, 2014. ( Linked Digital Edition 2017).

Fee, Samuel B., David K. Pettegrew, and William R. Caraher. “Taking Mobile Computing to the Field.” Near Eastern Archaeology 76.1 (2013), 50-55.

Hadjicosti, Maria, William Caraher, R. Scott Moore, and David K. Pettegrew. Pyla-Koutsopetria II: Geophysics and Excavation at an Ancient Coastal Town . ASOR Archaeological Reports. Boston: American Schools of Oriental Research, In Preparation.

Olson, Brandon R., William R. Caraher, David K. Pettegrew, and R. Scott Moore. “The Pyla-Koutsopetria Archaeological Project: A Preliminary Report on Excavations at Pyla-Vigla, a Fortified Settlement Dating to the Hellenistic Era.” Journal of Ancient Egyptian Interconnections 5.3 (2013), 74-82.


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[Coming soon]

Trench Reports and Summaries:

EU1 Trench Report, EU1 Trench Summary

EU2 Trench Report, EU2 Trench Summary

EU5 Trench Report, EU5 Trench Summary

EU6 Trench Report, EU6 Trench Summary

EU8 Trench Report

EU9 Trench Report

EU12 Trench Report

EU13 Trench Report

EU14 Trench Report

EU15 Trench Report

EU16 Trench Report

EU17 Trench Reports

Final Reports:

PKAP Final Report (2008)

PKAP Final Report (2009)

PKAP Final Report (2012)

Suggested Citation

David K. Pettegrew, William R. Caraher, R. Scott Moore. (2019) "Pyla-Koutsopetria Archaeological Project II: Geophysics and Excavation". Released: 2019-12-04. Open Context. <> DOI:

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