Kalavasos-Ayios Dhimitrios: The Big Rock

A couple of years after starting to excavate in the fields next to the highway, we encountered a massive square-shaped stone towards the northern side of “Building X” at Ayios Dhimitrios. It was found lying just under the top soil, entirely within the plow zone, and rested over a pit-like depression in a plaster floor. Made out of the same material as the surrounding cliffs of local limestone, the stone was chalk white in colour, displayed ancient chisel marks on its sides and had a curious circular depression directly in the centre.

It was an archaeologist named Larry Bruce who found the stone. He was in charge of digging the northern end of the site. He used to refer to the stone as “the Big Rock.” As soon as he found it, word spread from trench to trench that something big just happened in Larry’s area, and soon a small crowd of us gathered round to take a look. It was clear right from the start, even before we could see the full dimensions, this chunk of chalk would require a big lift: it was much too heavy for us to lift it up and move away by ourselves. We needed a machine!

Larry Bruce and the “Big Rock” at the northern end of Building X.

After a few conversations with some of the locals, we quickly found a man in Kalavasos Village who owned and operated a JCB Digger. He agreed (for a small amount of cash, of course) to bring his machine down to the site late one summer afternoon and help us shift the big stone. The following photos tells the story:

Larry Bruce and Paul Croft look on as Giorgos (“George”) Giorgiou and the machine operator (name not recorded) start to rig the attachment.

 Siga-Siga, re! (“The stone begins a slow and steady lift”)

You never know what’s down there, do you?


The stone is carefully dropped and deposited onto a sturdy wooden platform that would later be loaded onto a flat-bed truck for transport to the Larnaca District Museum.

Once the Big Rock was removed from the trench, Larry began to investigate the soft pit-like feature in the plaster floor. It was immediately clear that this was not a simple shallow pit, but something far more significant, and something that had the potential to go very, very deep. It also meant: There would be some serious digging in the near future. In fact, over the next ten days or so, a proper well more than five metres deep was excavated within this room at the northern end of Building X. For full details of the well’s dimensions and what was found within: see the current and forthcoming publications regarding Kalavasos-Ayios Dhimitrios by Alison South and other members of the Vasilikos Valley Project.

As soon as the Big Rock was taken away, Larry started to poke around to get the measure of what lay ahead. There would be some serious digging in the near future.


After several days of digging, Larry makes progress with what turned out to be a well over 5 metres in depth.