Nea Pafos. 50 years of Polish archaeological excavations 1965–2015

Exhibition on the occasion of the 50th anniversary of Polish archaeological work in Nea Paphos opens in the Cyprus Museum in Nicosia.

It is co-organized by the Polish Centre of Mediterranean Archaeology (PCMA), University of Warsaw and the Department of Antiquities of the Republic of Cyprus. The co-organizers are Institute of Mediterranean and Oriental Cultures, Polish Academy of Sciences, Faculty of Architecture, Wrocław University of Technology and Institute of Archaeology, Jagiellonian University, Kraków. It is organized within the framework of the International Museum Day and the European Night of Museums. Rector of the University of  Warsaw has given it his honorary patronage. The exhibition will run from 25 May through 30 November 2015. Afterwards it is planned to find permanent home in the site museum in Paphos.

For the past 50 years, archaeologists from the PCMA excavating the UNESCO World Heritage site of Nea Paphos have uncovered important architectural complexes with well preserved wall paintings and mosaics. These masterpieces of ancient art, as well as the more mundane artifacts, illustrate the richness and diversity of life in the ancient capital of Cyprus. More information about the marketplace of Hellenistic and Roman Paphos was contributed recently by an expedition from the Jagiellonian University in Kraków working there since 2011. Lately, the Warsaw team of archaeologists and restorers has worked together with the Cypriot Department of Antiquities toward opening the district near the ancient harbor as an archaeological park for tourists with reconstructed porticoes and restored mosaic floors.

History of Polish excavations in Paphos
The first days of excavations in 1965 confirmed the importance of the site. A hoard of silver coins of the Alexander the Great type was followed by finds of marble sculpture and finely decorated mosaic floors that signaled the discovery of a late Roman palatial residence. Successive seasons of explorations in the southern wing of this building led to the uncovering in 1969 of a figural mosaic showing the Greek hero Theseus slaying the Minotaur. This became the namesake of the newly discovered structure. After that work concentrated on the official reception area in the southern wing of the Villa of Theseus. More mosaic floors and marble sculptures, including the mosaic of Achilles and a statue of Aphrodite with a sword, were uncovered. The eastern and northern wings were explored in the 1970s and early 1980s, uncovering the mosaic of Poseidon.

The spectacular discovery in 1983 of the mosaic of Aion opened a new stage of the project, which was now devoted to exploration of the residential quarter east of the Villa of Theseus. In the second half of the 1980s, investigations moved to the south of the Villa. Discoveries included more figural and geometric mosaics, places of domestic cult, household equipment buried under earthquake debris. The combined work of archaeologists and restorers led to the reconstruction of one of the porticoes in the main courtyard of the “Hellenistic” House (pictured on the front cover). Research by the University of Warsaw team is being continued in this area.

Life and art in the ancient Cypriot city
Close to 250 artifacts from Polish excavations go on show at the Cyprus Museum in Nicosia. The exhibition presents major themes: history of Paphos, residential and public districts, official and private cults, symbols of authority, the Paphos mint, building decoration — architectural  styles, painting and mosaic floors, water in the service of the inhabitants and everyday life.

The display presents marble statuary, reconstructions of decorated architectural complexes, wall painting, artifacts representing all aspects of everyday life from religious worship to mundane activities, as well as commerce and craftsmanship, symbolic evidence of power and authority attested by coin minting. Multimedia presentations of the fine mosaic floors from the site carry the visitor across the island, to the place where they have been found and are on display, and a 3D model shows the changes taking place on the site in the course of almost a thousand years of development.

Nea Paphos. 50 Years of Polish Excavations 1965-2015

Exhibition leaflet:
Nea Paphos. 50 years of Polish archaeological excavations 1965–2015

Opening of the Exhibiton: photos M. Jawornicki

Rector of the University of Warsaw, Prof. Marcin Pałys, at the opening of the exhibition Dr Henryk Meyza, director of the PCMA mission in Nea Paphos, showing guests around the exhibition
Rector of the University of Warsaw, Prof. Marcin Pałys, at the opening of the exhibition Dr Henryk Meyza, director of the PCMA mission in Nea Paphos, showing guests around the exhibition