NEAF Public Lecture
NEAF Public lecture
Cleopatra’s Island: Evidence of Hellenistic Cyprus from Nea Paphos and beyond
Dr Craig Barker | The University of Sydney
27 May 2020
6:30 pm on Zoom
The University of Sydney’s Paphos Theatre Archaeological Project is celebrating 25 years of fieldwork in 2020. Working with the Department of Antiquities of Cyprus, the excavations have revealed the theatre of Hellenistic and Roman capital city of the island; a structure in use for six centuries from c. 300 BC until its destruction by earthquake in the fourth century AD along with significant urban infrastructure of the theatre quarter.
Although much of the architecture of the Hellenistic theatre was obliterated by later Roman construction, enough remains to get some insights into Alexandrian influences on Paphos and Cyprus more generally, including clear Ptolemaic architectural forms also seen at the nearby ‘Tombs of the Kings’ necropolis. The excavations at the theatre add to a growing body of evidence of the role Cyprus took in transferring the Hellenic koine (Hellenic cultural identity) from west to the east in the wake of Alexander’s conquests, and the role the island’s harbours play in facilitating increased maritime trade between the Aegean, Alexandria and the Levantine coast. For the duration of the island’s history between the Ptolemaic seizure in 294 BC and the Roman occupation of the island in 58 BC Cyprus is in a period of complete transition.
This talk will examine the Ptolemaic influence on Cyprus, from city foundations to the development of Hellenic architectural traditions, such as theatres; from ceramic and sculptural production on the island and Cyprus’ re-energised connection with international trade; the rise of new cults and religious practices; and the disappearance of Cypriot syllabic script to be replaced by the common Greek language in the centuries between Ptolemy and Cleopatra VII.
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