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Museum at Maa Paleokastro

Paphos - Museums- Archaeology

Museum of Mycenean settlement in Cyprus at Maa Paleokastro

The archaeological site of Maa-Palaiokastro located on a quit peninsula north of the town of Paphos near Pegeia area.

Small-scale excavation was conducted in 1952 by Porphyrios Dikaios followed by systematic excavations from 1979 to 1985 under the direction of the then director of the Department of Antiquities, Dr Vassos. Karageorghis.

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The place is related to the settlement of Aegean refugees in Cyprus and the process of the island's hellenisation around 1200 B.C. On area where the settlers established themselves, the excavators brought to light an earlier occupation of the Early Chalcolithic period consisting of houses formed from cavities in the rock and with light timber superstructures.

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Two imposing fortification walls, one on the side of the land, and the other on the side of the sea at the edge of the peninsula protected the Late Bronze Age settlement. Inside the settlement many small houses have been excavated as well as a few impressive public buildings bearing architectural features, previously unknown in Cyprus, which are connected to the Aegean.

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Two of these buildings each include a large room with a hearth in its centre and other smaller rooms possibly used as storerooms. There is evidence that both buildings were associated with food production, eating and drinking by a large number of people. Another building may have served as an “administrative” storage building, with large storage jars lining long narrow storage areas. There is also evidence of metallurgical activity at the site as well as of pottery production.

In 1996 a museum was constructed and opened at the site with a small exhibition of objects, mainly copies, and much educational documentation, for the benefit of the general public. The museum was financed by the A.G. Leventis Foundation. The Museum's building was designed by the Italian architect-conservator and professor Andrea Bruno. The main concept of the design was to keep the surrounding natural environment as intact as possible thus the building is an underground structure with only its bronze dome visible from outside. A round subterranean exhibition room is under the dome.

The settlement was destroyed in 1175 B.C., probably by pirates, but it was soon rebuilt by the inhabitants. The site was finally abandoned around 1150 BC.

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