Cyprus Adventures

Typical of my experiences of interaction with Cypriot residents, this produce man (the first person I met in Larnaca other than the hotel staff) let me take his picture, gave me an apple and would not take any money for it.

The Larnaca Municipal beach, a "Blue Flag" beach that is recognized by the countries of the Mediterranean for meeting specific conditions.  They have great restroom facilities, some pay showers and even post the colliform bacteria counts weekly!

Met the owner of "Jimmy's Place" and contemplated buying his beach business of renting out lounges with beach umbrellas and retiring to Larnaca.

The city has a very interesting but small museum that my Earthwatch colleague (Kalid from Pakistan) and I toured. He took this picture of me between two of the biggest jugs I have ever found myself between.

The Archeological Work and Local Environment

On to Alampra to meet the crew of the Cyprus copper mining archeological expedition (description of the work).  A note for the Iceland crew...check out the dining environment here in Cyprus.  And the local Hermes red wine is very good, cheap and plentiful!

Of course we had to go to work!  This photo shows us on our way to the first introduction to the Cyprus environment and another archeological dig adjacent to Alampra.

This photo will strike a cord with only hard-core ophiolite lovers but the scene is of pillow lavas down to the dikes that were feeding them without a lot of obscuring vegetation.  In the upper right of the photo is a streaky hill, a slag pile for a modern copper mine.  The Troodos Mts in the distance are the site of gabbroic and ultramafic portions of the ocean floor sequence that has been uplifted here in Cyprus and I will be visiting near the end of my time here. (note the atmosphere is quite hazy...from the abundance of a chalky white limestone that overlies the pillows?)

How rich a human history Cyprus has came to light as we were walking through a farmers field doing a quick survey and I found these two broken grinding stones.  There were lots of other archeological finds as well and we were careful to put everything back pending further exploration here. 

Not to rub it in but we did have to eat again!

Our cook Apostola was a fantastic cook and she prepared many Cypriot dishes for us, some shown here in her kitchen, but many in her outdoor oven (like that shown here in the front yard of our expedition accommodations).

At the dig site and getting to work...Malcomb, Ben and Christina open up a new trench to explore a cave that had been discovered last year. (A panorama of the site taken on the final is a large and roughly stitched image but gives the general feeling for the extent of the site)

Kalid, Tina and Barbara work in the furnaces location.

Anna and Walter review our work at the mine site.

Walter shows us how to mix the clay and ore smelting pellets.

Barbara and Tina make the cookies that we will roast and fire later.

Malcomb carefully arranges the  pellets for drying.  When dried and roasted in the field (to drive off the sulfur, phew!) the object was to produce either copper or an intermediate product for further smelting.  In the area of experimental archeology this experience gave us a real perspective of the abilities of the people who came before us at this site.

I help to break ground in preparation of the construction of a roasting pit for the the pellets. The large copper mine waste pile is visible over my shoulder on the horizon.

Barbara admires our roasting pit.

I collected wood beginning the 17th deforestation of Cyprus.  Actually, we used left over olive tree trimmings and junk wood from impromptu garbage dumps locally.

Walter prepares the oven for the smelting experiments and constructs the tuyere that will concentrate the air from the bellows into the furnace.

Another successful day ride home in the crowded jeep and they wouldn't let me sit in the middle!

A little break to visit a local pottery factory and get some clay for our work.  According to the workers seen in this photo, the signature of this factory are pots with two little bumps that make them girls.

Some of our friendly Alampra neighbors.

Walter showing us how the bellows system works on a pit where we experimented with firing the tuyeres as well as attempting to create bronze castings with it.

Prior to the casting, Walter introduces us to ancient dice made from the knuckles of sheep, cows, etc.

The pouring of the molten bronze into the mold.  Except for using charcoal and the gloves it seemed to be as close to the concept of ancient molding as possible. 

The results were not exactly perfect (the mold partially separated and created the ridge between the knuckle casts) but given the conditions, I think it was a remarkable, success for a first, field attempt.

Back at the site, this photo shows the furnace ready for the first smelting experiment.

After the first experiment, this photo shows the tuyere still in the furnace  and ready to be removed with its attached slag.

This photo shows the cooling of the slag attached to the tuyere so that we could see if we had made any pure copper (or more likely an intermediate copper enriched product called matte).

There were signs of perhaps even some pure copper and matte, but there will have to be confirmation in a metallurgy lab in Switzerland. We sure got a whole bunch of slag! 

This photo shows the tuyeres after the experiment (the one on the right shows how it was enveloped in slag) and the wooden pipes that connected the bellows and the furnace. The pipes were burnt up in the process, bringing the experiment to a somewhat early end.

We toured the eastern side of the Island on our day off and noticed this interesting alter ego rehabiliation facility in Lemosol.

We also passed some sea stacks where Aphrodite is supposed to have risen from the sea (Petra tou Romiou)  The actual rock is the tombolo in this photo (for those who have had oceanography).  You can see another sea stack being formed in the first headland by cliff erosion.  Another version of the story goes that a very strong man threw the rock into the sea and sank an invading ship.

We visited the ruins at Kourion, including this Roman amphitheatre that has been significantly restored and is used for productions (note the piano and Barbara preforming).

The coastal plain and cliffs looking west from Kourion.

The mosaics at the Kurion site were incredible given most were not protected, including this one of gladiators.

On our way home the taxi broke down in a very small village in the Troodos Mts (Kapares) and the locals pitched in to make some temporary repairs and make us comfortable.

Dinner after our trip at an Alampra eatery (the Caledonian restaurant which caters clearly to children) found one of our crew (Ben) wishing we had one of these at the site.

We were joined by a "lovely" couple from Ireland.  Anne, as co-principal investigator, was filling in for Walter who had to return to Switzerland to deal with an unexpected emergency.

Another touring day...  we visited the Cyprus Archeological Museum and some of us had lunch in an open air restaurant in the old walled portion of Nicosia.  Note that the Rimi Restaurant had capers and olives listed in their village salad but they could only supply the olives!  Make sure that they have the capers before you order if you are desiring them. They are wonderful and 4x as big as the capers common in the U.S.

A tourist destination for the dividing line in Nicosia between the Turkish held and Greek held portions of the Island.

The final group picture from our olive tree home away from home. 

That afternoon we toured the eastern side of the Troodos Mts and admired this Monastery. We were unexpectedly treated to the sounds of a small bell announcing a ritual performed by a priest who walks around in the courtyard tapping out a rhythm on a wooden instrument that calls the other priests to prayer.

I know I really enjoyed the experience, knowledge and hospitality of our principal investigators and the company of the other participants.  Thanks everyone.

Those participants might be interested in my return to Cyprus for the Scientific American Frontiers crew visit and the program that was aired on Tuesday, March 28, 2000, 8 p.m. ET

A close-up look at the players.