Platt Fellow Sean McGrath Describes his Summer with Lycoming College’s Expedition to Idalion, Cyprus

Thanks to a generous Platt Fellowship from ASOR, I was able to participate this summer as a square supervisor in Lycoming College’s Expedition to Idalion, Cyprus. Since the late 1980s, Dr. Pamela Gaber has directed the excavations and field school at Idalion, which has gained a reputation for excellence in providing students with a solid foundation in archaeological field methods. This season brought one of the largest crews seen in recent years, with students from Lycoming, Virginia Tech, and SUNY Albany, enabling excavation to take place in three separate areas of the site.

The field in which I worked is known as the Lower City East-an area originally dug by Lawrence Stager and Anita Walker in 1971. Findings there included a large basin with ashlar masonry and a plaster facing, in addition to a number of stone walls. These finds were interpreted as being part of a Roman villa and bath complex; however, last year this area of the site was reopened for the first time in over three decades, and findings were made that challenged the original identification of these features. Dr. Gaber believes this area to have, in fact, been part of an industrial installation.

I dug in square EΛΛ17, located just a few meters north of the basin. This was first opened in 2010 as a 1x5m probe, with the objective of finding any architectural features and learning how they relate to the other finds in the Lower City East. Although no architecture was found in 2010, this summer we uncovered a large stone feature most likely representing a wall. Underneath a sizable area of mudbrick detritus and wall-fall, we found five rows of stones, three of which consisted of much larger rocks than the other two. Interestingly, the feature has a very prominent curve. Pottery readings give a Hellenistic TPQ, further indicating that the features in this area were likely part of a Hellenistic industrial installation, rather than a Roman villa.

I am extremely fortunate to have had the opportunity to further develop my archaeological skills and field experience at Idalion this summer. It was also extremely rewarding to see the progress made by students on the dig, such as one who worked in my square-a Lycoming student named Bill Mastandrea, who, by the end of the season, had acquired the ability to set up the Total Station on uneven, sandy soil in under three minutes. My sincerest gratitude goes to Dr. Gaber for inviting me to participate in the dig, and to ASOR for the grant which made the entire experience possible.

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