Today was my first day since arriving in Cyprus back on the 15th. It felt good to sleep in and wake up when I felt like it, not when the alarm went off. To catch you up, on Friday we had both museum and field teams working. The museum team continued illustrating and cataloguing artifacts. The cataloguing is going slowly, we have almost 1,100 artifacts that we initially pulled for possible inclusion in our final catalogue. What I am doing now is going through them and deciding first if the artifact should catalogued (measured, Munselled, and described) and then if it should be illustrated. So, I am basically creating three categories: 1) no further work; 2) to be catalogued; and 3) to be catalogued and illustrated. The field teams continued surveying on Vigla, and are beginning to move faster as everyone gets the hang of what they are doing – we should finish surveying up there probably on Monday.
Since it was Friday, we gave everyone the afternoon off. That night we went out to eat at a Lebanese restaurant we first discovered three years ago. We weren’t able to eat there last year as it was remodeling. It reopened this year under a new name, Maharabs, but was as every bit as good as before. Almost everyone on the project went, and we had a large group of 14. We ate meze style, which is where they bring a lot of dishes so that everyone can sample a little of each. The meal wound up being about 12 dishes, plus a meat dish consisting of three different meats, and bread. It took about 2 hours for the whole meal, but everyone had a good time. The other thing that made the meal interesting is that the festival of Cataclysmos started Friday night in Larnaka. This festival celebrates the flood story and runs for several days – in fact Monday is a holiday and everything (including the museum) is closed. At the restaurant we ate on the balcony off the second floor overlooking the street and saw both a short parade and a fireworks display.
On Saturday, we gathered up all the students and went sight-seeing. We started off by visiting Paphos, probably the best recognized site on the island. At Paphos we looked at the mosaics at the House of Aion and the House of Dionysos. The House of Dionysos was very crowded since 2 large tour buses had already arrived and I am worried that the students did not get to see the mosaics the way they should have – and they are spectacular. After that we went to Ayios Georgos and tried to stop for lunch at Piegos, but their tavernas did not open until 4:00 PM, so we headed on to Ayios Georgos, which in the long run worked out better because there was a great taverna there that overlooked the water that was open. It felt good to sit there eating octopus and fries, watching the boats on the water. After a leisurely lunch, we visited Ayios Georgos which is a site with several small basilicas and living complexes. I was impressed that the students said that they liked this site better than Paphos. They said that they could see things better here and that it was starting to make more sense to them now that they have seen several similar sites.
After this we went to a new site for us, the monastery of the 12th century saint Neophytos. It is a bit north of Paphos, tucked away in a valley on the side of a moutain and you can just see the Mediterranean. As with most monasteries, it was very quiet and peaceful and the students seemed to enjoy visitng the museum, church, and rock cut living quarters of the saint which had some impressive wall paintings. We concluded the visit by having a quick snack at the cafe and relaxing as the afternoon gave way to the evening.
All in all, a couple of very good days.