ARCHAEOLOGISTS believe they have uncovered evidence that shows the devastation wrought by an earthquake in Paphos in 17BC.
Excavations carried out on the island of Geronisos off the coast of Paphos revealed a structure made up of several small rooms of around 4.5 square metres each.
Quantities of drinking cups and bowls and jugs, as well as cooking pots and casseroles, showed evidence the rooms may have been used as dining rooms.
A courtyard outside the building, which contained a large “beehive” oven, was “virtually filled” with hundreds of roof tiles “carefully stacked as if being stored”.
“It seems these were ready to be used for the repair of a roof or some other construction activity,” a statement from the Antiquities Department said yesterday.
“But the builders never had the opportunity to put them in place owing to destruction by an earthquake, probably that of 17BC.”
Paphos itself was almost completely destroyed in that earthquake.
The Department said the neighbouring trench showed further evidence of the catastrophic event. “A great tumble of rubble wall material with some fragments of architectural mouldings and ashlar blocks was strewn across a level of broken roof tiles,” it said.
However, underneath the debris, archaeologists uncovered pottery from the first century BC, including a stamped Rhodian amphora handle. A bronze needle, a lump of lead, an iron nail and several fragments of cast glass bowels were recovered from the gravel floor.
Archaeologists believe the area was part of the cult of Apollo and that the extensive dining facilities pointed to a continual stream of pilgrims. They said that the island enjoyed its most robust period of activity in the first century BC.
Two years ago, a skeleton was unearthed in Geronisos. It has been identified as belonging to a child aged between seven and a half and 14.