On Saturday I took the students to Nicosia, about a forty-five minute drive. First we visited the Nicosia Archaeological Museum, which is a pretty good museum. Since the students have all spent many mornings washing the pottery collected from the survey, I asked them to think about the different looking sherds they had been washing (size, thickness, color, decoration) and see if they thought they could find comparable intact artifacts in the museum. This certainly seemed to cause them to look at the artifacts very differently, and since I have been to the museum many times, I spent most of my time watching them and noticed that they seemed to take my suggestion to heart. The museum has a nice new temporary exhibit on the Swedish Cyprus Survey that took place in the late 1920s. It was very well done and fun to walk through. At one end of the hall they had a television that was showing actual film footage of the survey shot in the 1920s. Since we are the in the process of shooting our own documentary and have a video camera following us around everywhere, it made me feel a connection between our two projects. I sat on a bench and watched about 15 minutes of the footage and noticed that there some things that never change – there were lots of scenes of people sitting around a tub washing pottery.
After the museum we walked down into the old city. We stopped along the way and looked at the Venetian walls that are still standing before continuing on down to the Green Line. In 1974, fearing a junta by the Greek government, Turkey invaded the island to protect the Turkish Cypriots. Fierce fighting eventually led to a military division of the island with the Green Line separating the officially recognized Greek Cypriot republic in the south from the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus in the north, which is only officially recognized by Turkey. Despite efforts, there has been no solution to what has been called the "Cyprus Problem." Feelings in Cyprus, obviously still run deep about the issue and recent UN attempts at negotiating a settlement have gone nowhere.
We stopped at the end of Ledra Street where there used to be a little structure that you could climb and look out over a no-man’s land of barbed wire, bullet holes, and general destruction towards the other side with its Turkish flags. This spring, this structure was torn down and a small, thin wall replaced it. It is low enough that if you stand back from it about 50 feet, you can look over it to the other side. The students weren’t as impressed as students in past years have been, but when I showed them a memorial to persons who went missing in 1974 that helped.
After this I gave them an hour off to sightsee while I dropped by a bookstores. On the way back to the cars we stopped to eat at one of my favorite small sandwich shops where the food is very inexpensive, but quite good. This was certainly a different experience for the students who, when they have eaten out, have usually eaten at restaurants. They seemed to enjoy it, and more importantly, I always like eating there and since I am in charge…. We left Nicosia in the early afternoon, but it took a while to get through the traffic to the highway.
Bill Caraher’s parents have arrived in Cyprus to visit and we wanted to take them out to a nice restaurant, so we invited anyone who was interested to join us for a meze meal at the Black Turtle. The Turtle’s food is pretty good, but what sets the restaurant apart from others is the live music. Three Cypriot men (an accordion player, a bazuki player, and a singer) sing traditional songs and often people get up and dance – it is a show worth seeing. After explaining this to the students and encouraging them to go – only 2 students took us up on the offer, so we had a group of 11 – 2 students, 7 senior staff members, and Bill’s parents.The youngest member of the project (19 years old) reportedly said that she "really did not want to eat with the old people again." Ouch.