Friday, May 23, 2014

Ancient Cemetery of Makronisos

Next to one of the most beautiful beaches in Cyprus, Makronisos Beach, is located the ancient cemetery of Makronisos, which dates from the Hellenistic and Roman period. The tombs in general consist of a stepped dromos which leads to a rectangular entrance. The entrances were originally closed with one large or two smaller calcarenite slabs. Most of the chambers are almost identical. They are all provided with a rectangular trench in the middle, slightly lower than the floor of the dromos and three benches at the sides of the chamber. Some of the tombs have additionally one loculus carved on the longitudinal axis of the tomb opposite the entrance, while another is provided with four benches at the sides and one opposite the entrance, thus providing room for five internments. 

Despite the fact that all the tombs were found looted and disturbed some preliminary conclusions may be drawn. The dead were placed in clay sarcophagi which were originally covered with three flat tiles. The tombs were used during the Hellenistic and Roman periods. The pyres found on the surface by the dromoi give evidence of practising Greek burial customs. 

The excavations at Makronisos cemetery began in November 1989 and ended in January 1990, revealing 19tombs, dating back to the Hellenistic (323 BC – 30 BC) and Roman Period (30 BC – 324 AD). The location was already famous, being the target of illegal digging since 1872. The excavations also revealed a small sanctuary, located very close to the burial site. It consists of a single rectangular enclose constructed with large irregular blocks. The few offerings found at the site date the sanctuary to the Cyprus-Classical (475 BC – 323 BC) and Hellenistic period (323 BC – 30 BC).

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