Archaeological discoveries

An archaeological and geophysical study reveals the location of the Sanctuary of Apollo in Fragkissa, Cyprus

The Department of Antiquities of the Ministry of Transport, Communications and Public Works of Cyprus announced the completion of an archaeological and geophysical study in the area of ​​Pera Oreinis in October 2020 under the direction of Dr. Matthias Recke (University of Frankfurt); Philipp Kobusch (University of Kiel). The aim of the fieldwork was to locate the Sanctuary of Apollo at Fragkissa.

The sanctuary of Apollo at Fragkissa, in the vicinity of the ancient city of Tamasos, may be considered one of the most important sanctuaries discovered in Cyprus to date, owing to the rich finds of sculptures.

It was excavated in 1885 by German archaeologist Max Ohnefalsch-Richter. However, its exact location was subsequently forgotten and has been sought for decades by several archaeologists.

Recently, the researchers managed to restrict the location of the sanctuary to a valley south of Pera Oreinis, in the center of the island of Cyprus and in the district of Nicosia. Through an intensive study of this valley it has been possible to locate the exact place of the sanctuary location. The study revealed a high concentration of remains, fragments of ancient sculptures and terracotta figurines.

A preliminary analysis of the finds showed that the area had been occupied since the Iron Age and was used throughout the Archaic, Classical and Hellenistic periods. The numerically smaller finds from Roman and Byzantine times are considerably more eroded and probably proceed from a settlement of this period located further down and already known.

However, findings from earlier periods, which can be attributed to the sanctuary of Apollo, are relatively well preserved. They probably proceed from the debris of the 1885 excavations and were overlooked at that time. In particular, the numerous fragments of limestone figures and large-sized terracotta statues demonstrate that the remains of an ancient sanctuary are being dealt with.

In fact, the types of figurative finds correspond exactly to material excavated in 1885 that is currently found in museums in Canada, Britain, Ireland and possibly even Russia. Only a small part of the 1885 finds have remained in Cyprus and are now housed in the Nicosia Museum, including the famous Colossus of Tamassos .

Characteristic finds include small chariots, riders and figures of warriors in terracotta and large hollow up to life-size statues representing donors. In addition to these human figures, many fragments have been found, especially of horses (or horse riders).

The confirmation that the site of the Apollo sanctuary has been identified in this area was also provided by the presence of a nearly 15 meter long trench dating back to the 1885 activities and which is also mentioned in the old excavation reports . . . . The trench had the purpose of exploring the adjoining area to determine the exact extent of the sanctuary. In fact, even remnants of the ancient double-ply masonry can be seen here, which must have formed part of the architecture of the shrine. A detailed investigation of the area and a new archaeological excavation are planned for the spring of 2021.