Kalavasos Village Tomb 51


This is a rare example of a burial deposit dating to the earliest phase of the Late Bronze Age (Late Cypriot IA). Excavations took place adjacent to the Mosque near the village centre in September 1984 during the rescue operations connected to the installation of underground telephone cables along the village streets. (For more details, see “The Tomb-Diggers Club.”)

Tomb 51 during excavation.

Prior to the (accidental) discovery of Tomb 51, finds relating to the Late Cypriot I period within Kalavasos have proved rather elusive, with evidence limited to twenty-three artefacts recovered from another centrally located burial, Tomb 2, near Panayia Church. Other burials dated to a slightly later phase of the Late Bronze Age (LCII) came to light from this same vicinity within the village: two in 1950 when water pipes were installed below a street on the steep western fringe of the village (the “Mavrovouni” neighbourhood), and one more near the Mosque, like Tomb 51.

The Mosque in Kalavasos Village.

The precise location of Tomb 51: 15.8 meters west-southwest of a small apse projecting from the Mosque’s southern wall. This puts it north of and slightly inside Plot 277/1 on a narrow street fronting the southern façade of the Mosque. This is an elevated part of the village, characterised by rich deposits of secondary limestone or “havara” as bedrock, approximately 200 meters west of the Vasilikos River floodplain. This location is just outside the eastern boundaries of the Mavrovouni locality, which comprises a group of mainly Turkish-Cypriot owned houses (we describe here the original situation before 1974) forming the highest and westernmost extension of the modern village. The terrain near the Mosque is moderately sloping (12-degrees at Tomb 51), but the ground rises sharply as one moves towards Mavrovouni to the west to 25-degree slope angles. The steep terrain created massive slope-wash bearing sediments from winter rains to fill up subterranean chambers like Tomb 51. It is worth noting that the soil fill at the top levels of the tomb contained significant amounts of modern debris, including bits of plastic, cigarette butts, and other non-ancient materials. The occurrence of modern debris decreased and eventually disappeared as one approached the lower levels of the burial deposit.


The Chamber

In terms of chamber characteristics, Tomb 51 is typical of most tombs previously encountered in Kalavasos. It comprises a single chamber roughly circular in plan with slightly concave to steeply concave walls terminating in a flat, sloping ceiling. The chamber measures 2.45 x 2.35 meters (N-S x E-W) and stands 1.23 meters from floor to ceiling. Access to the chamber was through a small opining cut into the uppermost part of the wall on the north side. We were not able to investigate the “dromos” (tomb entry corridor) owing to time constraints imposed on the rescue excavation and to risks involved with undermining the street. However, we were able to confirm an interesting morphological feature sometimes seen in other tombs: the chamber wall becomes abruptly less concave on the dromos-side of the tomb, attaining a nearly vertical profile directly beneath the entrance.

The chamber was cut into the soft secondary limestone deposits that locals call “havara.” In Tomb 51, just like in several other chamber tombs excavated inside Kalavasos, there were many narrow, groove-shaped vertical markings or impressions clearly visible on the walls and parts of the ceiling. These impressions, which ranged from 5 to 7.5cm in length x 2cm in width, indicate a pick-like implement was used to hollow out the chamber. They sometimes occurred in staggered rows.


Stratigraphy inside the Chamber

Two distinct layers represented sediment accumulation within the chamber:

  • A basal deposit containing the grave goods derives from local colluvium that entered the chamber shortly after initial burial and tomb use;
  • An upper layer: this an extensive, finely stratified sequence of differing sediment types that appears to be of recent date.

The lower tomb fill formed a homogeneous layer approximately 40cm in thickness overlying the chamber floor. It was soft and friable in consistence, penetrated by few fine to medium-sized roots, and maintained a uniform texture of gravelly sandy clay loam. The upper tomb fill extended from just below the chamber ceiling down to the top of the grave goods (0-90cm). It was sorted into numerous individual soil horizons ranging in texture from clay to clay loam to sandy clay loam to sandy loam. The sequence was characterised by heavy clays at the top, with lighter clays and coarser materials further below. At times clayey horizons would alternate with sand-dominated layers, reflecting abrupt phases of in-washing and deposition episodes.

Digging through the upper fill deposits of Tomb 51. The water pipe seen in photo, probably from the 1950s, made getting in and out slightly challenging.

The upper fill yielded a small amount of pottery, all of which was Bronze Age in type, including Middle Cypriot Red Polished III sherds, and fragments of Base-Ring II, White Slip II and Plain White Wheelmade sherds dating to the Late Cypriote II period. However, the presence of plastic, aluminium, and recent animal bones mixed in with the pottery sherds and seen throughout the upper profile clearly establishes these sediments were freshly laid. Modern debris was also encountered in the top-most parts of the lower fill where the undisturbed burial deposit was found: shredded polythene lay adjacent to some of the grave goods, and (incredulously) an intact modern plastic condom (yes, you read it correctly) was actually found mixed into the fine sediments inside the large Black Slip jug (marked as No. 2 on the plan below). Rather than representing recent human disturbance of the burial deposit, this modern rubbish amongst the upper grave goods instead indicates the level to which the chamber remained devoid of sediment during recent times. A water pipe had been installed, probably during the 1950s, over the chamber roof and through the dromos, which must have assisted, if it did not cause, new sediments to enter the chamber.

The Burial Deposit

Plan of burial deposit showing distribution of grave goods.


The lower tomb fill yielded twelve ceramic vessels, two stone beads, a metal sword and a small quantity of human bones. Although definitive comments regarding the skeletal material must await detailed analysis, preliminary observations made during and after excavation indicate the presence of only one tomb occupant. The small amount of bones recovered inside the tomb would seem to be consistent with that conclusion.

The skeleton lay across the southern side of the chamber, the head and arms at the west, the legs and feeet at the east. Skull bones were found next to and beneath two jugs (No. 4 and 5). The condition of the cranial sutures and lower mandible indicates this individual was a late adolescent who had not yet reached the age of 25. The positions of the two stone “beads” on either side of the skull might suggest these objects may have been used as buttons for fastening a garment of some type at the shoulders or collarbone. Other grave goods were found on both sides of the upper body, with the densest group on the dromos-side of the body. At the feet, a large jug (No. 12) lay on top of the lower limb bones. The metal sword (No. 13) rested just above the floor at approximately waist-level to the body; the hilt pointed towards the body. The arrangement of grave goods relative to the skeleton gives the impression of a burial deposit lying in situ with little disturbance of the remains.

Behind the skull, against the western chamber wall, sherds belonging to a Red Polished III Mottled ware bowl of Middle Cypriot type were recovered. Although the sherds could be intrusive, it seems more likely, given their nestled postion, that the bowl was deliberately introduced along with the other grave goods at the time of burial. (Note: My thanks go to Dr R.S. Merrillees for suggesting this possiblility.) Alternatively, the Middle Cypriot sherds might represent an earlier phase of tomb use for which other evidence is lacking. It should be stressed that two Middle Cypriot tombs (Tombs 52 and 53) are situated just a metre or two from Tomb 51. There may be, in fact almost certainly are, other tombs lying nearby in other directions.


The Finds

(All ceramic objects in the tomb are handmade unless otherwise indicated.)


No 1: Amphora of Plain Wheelmade ware (“Canaanite Jar”)

Thin very pale brown slip. Wide flat base, ovoid body, short concave neck, splaying externally thickened rim; two opposed ear-like handles from lower mid-body to shoulder. One ridge around the base of neck. Very thin walls. Worn spots of red paint on both sides of jar above handles on shoulder and neck (no decoration). H: 59.8cm; Width of body: 39.0cm; D rim: 12.5cm; Capacity to top of rim: ca 18.7 litres. (Note: The capacity measurement was kindly provided by Dr Karl Petruso using a computer programme he developed to calculate pot capacities from a line drawing. The 18.7 litre capacity does not correspond to one “bath”, approx. 22 litres, which is the unit of liquid measure possibly associated with other Canaanite jars.)

No 2: Jug of Black Slip II (Reserved Slip) ware

Thin very dark grey slip. Round base, slight concavity on one side of lower body near base, globular body, wide concave neck. Decoration in very dark grey slip. Pot marks: three small ovoid depressions (0.7 x 1.0cm) on top of handle near junction with neck, traces of slip visible inside depressions. H: 47.0cm; Width of body: 32.5cm; D or rim: 10.2cm.

No 3: Jug of Base-Ring I ware

Red slip of varied thickness, burnished lustrous; large black mottles across parts of body, neck and handle. Shallow ring-base, swollen ovoid body, wide tapering neck, everted rim; high strap handle from shoulder to rim. Plastic decoration: one ridge encircling base of neck. Incomplete. Existing H: 18.2cm. Width of body: 13.9cm.

No 4: Jug of Base-Ring I ware

Thin reddish yellow slip, burnished very lustrous; large grey to black mottles on shoulder and lower body. High ring-base, swollen ovoid body, long narrow tapering neck; strap handle from shoulder to mid-neck. Plastic decoration: on body ridges forming two spirals opening away from each other; one ridge encircling base of neck; two ridges around mid-neck at handle. Incomplete. Existing H: 21.7cm; Width of body: 11.8cm.

No 5: Juglet of Base-Ring I ware

Thin black to very dark brown slip, burnished lustrous. Ring-base (missing), squat ovoid body, narrow tapering neck, funnel-shaped mouth; strap handle from shoulder to mid-neck. Plastic decoration: (only partly preserved). Incomplete. Existing H: 15.0cm; Width of body: 9.0cm.

No 6: Bowl of Monochrome (aka “Proto Base-Ring”) ware


Thin yellowish brown slip, burnished lustrous; red and black mottles on exterior and interior. Flat base, nearly conical body with curving outline at top, carinated shoulder, everted rim; horizontal loop handle at shoulder rising diagonally above rim. Very thin walls. Rim ornaments: three twin lugs on rim opposite and on either side of handle. H: 7.8cm; D: 15.6cm.

Nos 7 and 14: Beads of Chlorite Stone

No 7: Bead of Chlorite

Smooth, dark greenish grey to black exterior surface; interior dark green, but lighter than exterior. Biconical body, flat base. Dense and heavy. Incised decoration: two rows of four encircled dots on each side of bead. Length: 2.60cm; D: 2.40cm; D of holes: 1.05 x 1.05cm. No. 14: As above, except: L: 2.30cm; D: 2.20cm)


No 8: Bowl of White Slip I ware

Thin cream-coloured slip, burnished lustrous. Concave base, hemispherical body, slightly incurving rim; horizontal loop handle rising diagonally towards rim from body; open bridge spout below rim opposite handle. Thin walls. Decoration in matt reddish orange paint firing to dark brown. A distinct “firing shadow” can be seen about half way up one side of the bowl altering the colour of the paint in the affected zone. H: 9.5cm; D: 17.5cm.

No 9: Juglet of Base-Ring I ware

Thin black slip, burnished lustrous. In fragments and incomplete. Fragments include: ring-base, part of shoulder, narrow tapering neck. Plastic decoration.

No 10: Juglet of White Slip I ware


Medium-thin cream-coloured slip, burnished lustrous. Flat base, swollen ovoid body, narrow tapering neck, funnel-shaped mouth; strap handle from shoulder to neck. Decoration in matt dark brown paint. H: 15.8cm; Width of body: 9.3cm; D of rim: 4.2cm.

No 11: Tankard of Base-Ring I ware

Thin red slip burnished lustrous; black mottles in flecks across outer surface of body. Shallow ring base, depressed biconical body, sharply carinated shoulder, tall, very wide cylindrical neck, angular everted rim; strap handle from shoulder to rim from which a flat, curving thumb-grip with a concave end projects diagonally at top of handle. Plastic decoration. H: 19.5cm; Width of body: 14.0cm; D of rim: 12.5cm.

No 12: Jug of Base-Ring I ware

Thin red slip with large black mottles covering most of body, handle and neck. Shallow ring-base, swollen ovoid body, wide cylindrical neck, splaying rim, trefoil mouth; high strap handle from shoulder to rim. Plastic decoration. H: 26.5cm; Width of body: 16.0cm; D of rim: 9.7 x 8.6cm.

No 13: Sword of Bronze

Note: This object has been classified as a sword because its length dimension exceeds 25cm. Cast-hilted with flanges; no rivets. Slight swelling of blade just below hilt. Lower part of blade is extremely worn on one side. Tip delaminated. Deep groove running down mid-ridge. Length: 29.2cm.

No 14: Bead of Chlorite

Smooth, dark greenish grey to black exterior surface; interior dark green, but lighter than exterior. Biconical body, flat base. Dense and heavy. Incised decoration: two rows of four encircled dots on each side of bead. L: 2.30cm; D: 2.20cm)


No 15: Bowl of Red Polished III Mottled ware 

Thin red slip, burnished lustrous; black mottles in flecks on outer surface. Round base, hemispherical body, incurving rim. One small knob below rim. Thick walls. H: 9.8cm; D: 12.5cm.


Analysis and Discussion of Selected Artefacts


Plain White Wheelmade ware or “Canaanite Jar” (No. 1): The amphora, the largest and only wheelmade ceramic object found in Tomb 51, clearly stands out as an import from Syria or Palestine. Like the imported (MB IIc) amphora found with Middle Cypriote III artefacts in Arpera-Mosphilos Tomb 1A (Merrillees 1974, 47), the Tomb 51 example belongs to a class of oval-shaped storage jars produced in the Levantine coastal region from the Early Bronze II to Late Bronze Age I periods (Raban 1980, 3-7). Apparently intended as commercial containers for commodities (e.g. wine, oil, spices) that were exchanged both at home and abroad (to and between Egypt, Syria, Palestine, Asia Minor, Cyprus, and Greece), these Canaanite Jars exhibit a long and continuous typological development to which the Kalavasos specimen can be related.


Here are some important points for reference:

  • With its squat ovoid body, wide flat base, ear-like handles, short neck and externally thickened rim, T51-No. 1 represents a jar form that was current in the Levant during the Middle Bronze Age IIb/c through Late Bronze Age I periods.
  • Parallels for the Kalavasos jar can be found on Levantine mainland sites such as Lachish and Tyre (Statum XVII) and Haifa. At Tyre, a very similar jar was ound in a burial context containing some of the same Cypriot ceramics (i.e. imports from Cyprus) found in Kalavasos Tomb 51 (e.g. Proto Base-Ring and Monochrome wares).
  • The externally thickened rim on the Kalavasos jar seems to represent a jar form that was popular during the later phases of the Middle Bronze Age – early phase Late Bronze age on the Levantine mainland. We find it at the site of Sarepta in contexts that contain imported Cypriot ceramics found in Tomb 51, such as Base Ring I, White Slip I and Monochrome wares.

Finally, how does the Kalavasos jar stack up against the most comparable example within Cyprus, the amphora found at Arpera-Mosphilos? In overall morphology, the two jars are quite similar: both exhibit reduced ovality, earl-like handles, short necks and externally thickened rims. However, the Arpera example stans on a flattened base (Merrillees 1974, Pl. 29:5), which is narrower and less developed than the wide flat base of Tomb 51-No 1. A slightly earlier chronology may account for the difference. The Arpera jar was found with typical Middle Cypriot III pottery including White Painted III, Red Polished III, Black Slip III, and Red-on-Black wares, while Tomb 51, with its strong early-phase Late Bronze Age ceramic assemblage, suggests a slightly later date that would lean towards, if not completely inside, the Late Cypriot 1A period.


Black Slip II (Reserved Slip) ware (No. 2): This is a rare and under-represented Late Cypriot I ceramic type and Tomb 51-No. 2 is the only known intact example of Black Slip II (Reserved Slip) ware from the Vasilikos Valley; two fragments or sherds were recognised amongst material from the LBA settlement of Kalavasos-Ayios Dhimitrios. Although Black Slip II (Reserved Slip) ware has been recovered from both settlement and burial contexts, the known distribution of this ware is restricted to about a dozen sites on the island. For this ceramic type, the database is small, perhaps too small to draw any sweeping conclusions. It appears not to have been too popular and its use appears not have extended much beyond the Late Cypriot IIA period.

Some additional notes:

  • The main diagnostic feature is the painted wavy line enclosed by a reserved band that encircles the vessel at its belly or shoulder.
  • Fabrics trend towards medium-fine to medium coarse, sandy and/or gritty.
  • Clay colour ranges from grey to green to pinkish buff or beige.
  • The slip is always dark grey to black and is not very durable.
  • The vast majority of material from this ceramic class are handmade, but sherds from Enkomi-Ayios Iakovos and Myrtou-Pigadhes possibly show wheel marks.
  • Apart from a single amphora at Myrtou-Stephania, the only shape seems to be the jug. All vessels of this ware thus far discovered have globular bodies just like Kalavasos Tomb 51-No. 2.
  • At the excavations of the Late Bronze Age settlement of Maroni-Vournes, situated in the next valley east of Kalavasos, some of the earliest occupation deposits produced significant amounts of Black Slip II (Reserved Slip) ware in sherd form. These fragments occurred alongside other standard Late Cypriot IA fabrics: White Painted V-VI, Red-on-Black, Proto White Slip and White Slip I.
  • With few exceptions, the comparative data suggest that Black Slip II (Reserved Slip) ware is a good indicater of Late Cypriot IA. It seems the only condition preventing it from being considered a hallmark of this period is the paucity of material from sites across the island.

Two factors, one relating to settlement data, the other to tombs, might account for the relative rarity of this ceramic type. First, Black Slip II (Reserved Slip) ware can only be identified by means of the reserved decoration, which occupies a small area of any given vessel. Outside the reserved zone it is indistinguishable from Black Slip II ware, which bears no reserved element. As the legendary Swedish archaeologist Dr Paul Astrom observed, many sherds previously attributed to Black Slip II might actually belong to undecorated parts of Black Slip II (Reserved Slip) vessels (Astrom 1966, 63). This recognition factor is particularly relevant when we consider the distribution of Black Slip II (Reserved Slip) ware from settlements, where frequently only small portions of entire ceramic objects are recovered.


From tombs, where intact vessels like the Kalavasos example are frequently found, the situation is different and partly hypothetical. It seems from the body of available evidence that Black Slip II (Reserved Slip) vessels, when they occur in tombs, are found in single numbers only. No tomb yet discovered has contained more than one specimen of this rare and distinctive ceramic type. Even within entire cemeteries the population of this fabric is sometimes limited to only one individual object (e.g. Myrtou-Stephania). This may reflect intentional design by people to restrict these containers to one per tomb, perhaps because they were not widely available or for other less apparent reasons. Future finds may demonstrate this hypothesis to be ill founded, but until then, we might consider the infrequent occurrence of Black Slip II (Reserved Slip) ware to be a phenomenon resulting from deliberate human behaviour.


Base-Ring I ware (Nos. 3-5, 9, 11-12): Out of the twelve ceramic objects recovered from Tomb 51, six belong to the Base-Ring category. This preponderance of Base-Ring ware conforms to a pattern seen previously in Kalavasos, where all save one of the Late Cypriot tombs contained substantial amounts of Base-Ring pottery. Kalavasos Village Tomb 2 produced eighteen LC IA vessels of which eight were either Proto Base-Ring or Base-Ring I. Nearly half the vessels in Tomb 22 (LC IIA) and over a quarter in Tomb 10 (LC IIA) proved to be of Base-Ring ware. Base-Ring ware is also well represented at the nearby site of Kalavasos-Ayios Dhimitrios, where it occurs in strength among the contents of tombs that predate the settlement. Taking all the tomb data as a whole, it would appear that during the early phases of the Late Bronze Age Base-Ring pottery was the “must-have” or “in fashion” material for tomb furnishings, at least in the Vasilikos Valley.

The Tomb 51 Base-Ring Assemblage: (L to R) Nos. 12, 6, 4, 5, 3. 11.


Some Additional Points about Base-Ring Ware in Tomb 51:

  • The dominant shape in Tomb 51 is the jug. Nos. 5 and 9 represent the bottle-shaped juglet with circular mouth and handle from shoulder to neck. This is perhaps the most frequently encountered shape in the entire LC I – LC II ceramic repertory, being illustrated by hundreds of examples from nearly all regions of the island with specimens occurring in Black Slip V and White Slip wares, in addition to Base-Ring.
  • Although the shape and fabric of Nos. 5 and 9 are found in Kalavasos Village Tombs 2, 10 and 22, in terms of decoration these two juglets are best paralleled by material discovered outside the region, such as at Ayia Irini-Paleokastro, and at Myrtou-Stephania, and at Enkomi-Ayios Iakovos.
  • The large jug with the high handle and trefoil mouth, No. 12, is less common generally and previously unknown from Kalavasos, but it is paralleled in both shape and decoration by an example found in an LC IA-LC IB tomb at Ayia Irini-Paliokastro (Pecorella 1977, fig 218).
  • Base-Ring I jugs from Kalavasos-Ayios Dhimitrios Tomb 4 are in many respects quite similar to Tomb 51-No. 12 (South 1982, pl. XVI: 2).
  • At Kalavasos, No. 11 marks the earliest appearance of the Base-Ring I tankard, but it persisted in the area, as examples are known from Kalavasos Village Tombs 10 and 22. The shape is notably absent from Tomb 2, which appears to be slightly earlier in date than Tomb 51. In eastern Cyprus, Base Ring I tankards comparable to No. 11 were recovered from Late Cypriot I tombs at Nitovikla and Enkomi.



White Slip I ware (Nos. 8 and 10): Previous excavation in and around Kalavasos demonstrates that White Slip, just like Base-Ring, was very popular in the Vasilikos Valley. Because the Late Cypriot II period in the valley is much better represented archaeologically than is the Late Cypriot I, the White Slip material thus far recovered consists predominantly of White Slip II ware. However, though the Late Cypriot I evidence is sparse, the presence of three Proto-White Slip (or White Slip I) vessels in Kalavasos Village Tomb 2 and two White Slip I vessels in Tomb 51 testifies to the important role which White Slip ware played in the local ceramic tradition during the incipient phases of the Late Bronze Age.


Some important considerations about the White Slip objects in Tomb 51:

  • 8 and 10 are characterized by the same distinct fabric containing brick red clay with substantial grit inclusions and covered with a thin to medium cream-coloured slip.
  • 8 is a classic example of the White Slip I spouted bowl. With its hemispherical body, maximum diameter perpendicular to the loop handle, concave base, thin walls and in-curving rim, it meets the shape attributes for White Slip I laid out by Popham (1972, 437) and illustrated by other examples from Late Cypriot IA tombs at Ayia Irini-Paleokastro and Myrtou-Stephania.
  • The decoration of No. 8 is drawn from the standard repertoire of White Slip I motifs, with numerous parallels found at sites such as Ayia Irini-Paleokastro, Enkomi-Ayios Iakovos and Livadhia-Kokotes.
  • No. 8 bears a well-defined “firing shadow” about halfway up the body on one side. This accounts for the abrupt change in paint colour on that side of the body, indicating that the upper zone bearing the darker or non-reddish paint was denied exposure to oxygen during the firing process. This happens when bowls are stacked one on top of another inside the kiln when fired. That would be a logical and efficient way to maximize space within the kiln. It might also mean the firing shadow was accidental and/or unintentional, and it is noteworthy that the shadow is found mainly on one side of the bowl.
  • The bottle-shaped juglet, No. 10, is a shape not well represented at sites outside the South Coast region, but is especially common inside the Vasilikos Valley. Two flat-based examples similar to No. 10 were found in Kalavasos Village Tomb 2, another pair in Tomb 10. Perhaps the closest parallel for Tomb 51-No. 10 comes from Maroni Tomb 1 in the neighbouring valley to the east: In terms of decorative format, the two vessels are identical.


Stone Beads (Nos. 7 and 14): The biconical stone bead is another class of artefact commonly found in Late Cypriot I-II contexts in the Vasilikos Valley.

  • One undecorated example was found in Kalavasos Village Tomb 2 and three others in Tomb 10, which gives a range for their use inside Kalavasos between Late Cypriot IA and IIA.
  • Incised beads with the same enclosed circle decoration as Tomb 51 Nos. 7 and 14 are well represented at Kalavasos-Ayios Dhimitrios, where they occur in both burial and settlement deposits (South, 1980: 45-6; 1982, 61).
  • Additional beads comparable to those in Tomb 51 occur at Livadhia-Kokotes (Astrom 1974, Pl. X: 8) and Maroni Tomb 1 (Johnson 1980, Pl. X: 29-30). One interesting note: In addition to decoraded stone beads, these tombs each contained a White Slip I vessel especially close in decoration to Tomb 51 specimens, Nos. 8 and 10.

Nos. 7 and 14 are made of a pure chlorite stone, and may thus be derived from a source external to Cyprus. Although minerals belonging to the chlorite group are found in various proportions in the metamorphosed rocks of the Troodos Ophiolite, veins of pure or nearly pure chlorite have not been identified in Cyprus. Southwestern Turkey, Iran and Iraq each contain potential source materials for the Tomb 51 stone beads. (Author’s Note: I am most grateful to the late Prof. Ian Gass for his instructive discussions with me about the occurrence of chlorite in and outside Cyprus.) We should not overlook, however, that while the raw material is likely imported, the artefacts themselves are undoubtedly products of a local craftsperson. The decoration is executed with extreme care, probably with use of a tubular-shaped drill.


Metal (No. 13): The sword, the only metal artefact recovered from Tomb 51, is assumed to be made of bronze, although no technical analysis has yet been undertaken to confirm this.

  • Being cast-hilted with a raised outer edge or flange around the hilt, No. 13 represents a type seldom seen in Cyprus.
  • At least two other cast-hilted, flanged weapons have been previously found on the island: one from Morphou-Tomba tou Skourou (Vermule 1974, Fig. 49, top), and one without known provenance (Catling 1964, Pl. 15: m). Both have been attributed to the so-called “Near Eastern type”.

Kalavasos Village Tomb 2 provides the only other information regarding the kind of weapons used in the Vasilikos Valley during the early phase of the Late Bronze Age.

  • Three swords of the usual hooked-tang type and a dagger with convex or straight butt were recovered.
  • No other metal artefacts were found in the tomb.
  • The three Late Cypriot II tombs in Kalavasos Village yielded no metal whatsoever.
  • All metal artefacts in Late Cypriot tombs in Kalavasos Village are restricted to the two Late Cypriot I tombs, and these objects are weapons exclusively.



Because the early phase of the Late Bronze Age is not well represented in the archaeological record thus far recorded within the Vasilikos Valley, the precise dating of Tomb 51 might best be left open for future adjustment. However, at present a date towards the end of the Late Cypriot IA, perhaps transitional with Late Cypriot IB, can be proposed.

The burial excavated in Tomb 51 contained artefacts deposited beside one individual during one phase of tomb use. No signs of post-burial human activity within the chamber were encountered. Therefore, with the possible exception of No. 15, the contents of Tomb 51 can be confidently attributed to a single burial event occurring at one period of time.

Based on current understanding of Late Cypriot material culture, there is nothing in Tomb 51 that demands a date after Late Cypriot IA. While the latest stylistic elements in the tomb, the Base-Ring I and White Slip I wares, do occur in Late Cypriot IB contexts, they are equally indicative of Late Cypriot IA. The majority of comparative data, including that for the Base-Ring I and White Slip I material, come from LC IA contexts or from sources that contain LC IA artefacts in addition to later material. Among the earlier features in Tomb 51 is the Black Slip II (Reserved Slip) jug No. 2, which is rarely found in post-LCIA contexts, and then it is usually wheelmade (as at Myrtou-Pigadhes). The handmade specimen found in Tomb 51 is most likely a Late Cypriot IA artefact. The Monochrome bowl, though it belongs to a type found as late as Late Cypriot II, finds its best comparisons with LC IA examples (e.g. those in Akhera-Paradisi Tomb 1 and Maroni-Kapsaloudhia Tomb 2). Finally, the Canaanite jar No. 1 can provide no conclusive evidence for chronology, but typologically it appears to be transitional between MB IIb/c and LB I in mainland terms, and is closely paralleled by mainland examples found with imported LC IA ceramics (e.g. at Tyre and Sarepta).

Since there are few clear dividing lines between Late Cypriot IA and Late Cypriot IB tomb groups, the chronology of Tomb 51 is perhaps best expressed relative to the other known Late Cypriot tombs in Kalavasos Village. In date, Tomb 51 stands somewhere between Tomb 2 (early LC IA) and Tombs 10, 11 and 22 (LC IIA). Even a cursory analysis demonstrates that the Tomb 51 material relates more closely to Tomb 2 than to the later tombs. In the absence of White Slip II ware and other elements that appear in Late Cypriot IB, Tomb 51 must be placed before, not after, Late Cypriot IB.




With the excavation of a second Late Cypriot I tomb in Kalavasos Village, a fragmentary picture of the early Late Bronze Age in the Vasilikos Valley is starting to emerge. Based on the small amount of data provided by two tombs, the following general conclusions can be proposed:

  • Regional characteristics of Late Cypriot I material culture in the Vasilikos Valley include: a predominance of Base-Ring over other ceramic types; White Slip juglets (especially the flat-based variety); Monochrome bowls with tripartite rim ornamentation; and biconical stone beads. These same or very similar elements are found in Late Cypriot I tombs at nearby Maroni and in Late Cypriot II tombs at Kalavasos Village and Kalavasos-Ayios Dhimitrios, hence they may define grave good selection behaviour in a large region during several centuries.
  • Despite certain provincial trends, the Late Cypriot I craft industries at Kalavasos shared many similarities with those in other regions of Cyprus, particularly the Morphou Bay-Kormakiti region. As a group, the contents of Tomb 51 are closely related to Ayia Irini-Paleokastro Tombs 3 and 11 (Pecorella 1977, 15-5-, 67-92) and to Myrtou-Stephania Tomb 7 and 14A (Hennessy 1963, 19-25, 35-49). Other sites in that area, such as Dhenia-Kafkalla, Akhera-Paradisi and Morphou-Tomba tou Skourou provide close parallels for individual Kalavasos specimens.
  • The early Late Bronze Age inhabitants of the Kalavasos area were in touch with the material world far outside their own valley. The presence of a Canaanite jar and imported stone material (chlorite) in Tomb 51, and the Levantine-inspired pottery in Tomb 2 demonstrate that a cosmopolitan environment prevailed in the Vasilikos Valley as early as the Late Cypriot I period. Whether these objects show evidence for direct contacts with parties abroad can not be assessed. However, the existence of copper deposits just a few kilometres north of Kalavasos would have provided local inhabitants with the means to engage in commercial activities with both domestic and foreign markets.
  • The occurrence of swords and a dagger amongst the grave goods of Tombs 2 and 51, if they are not purely ornamental or ceremonial, might possibly suggest some form of local social unrest during this time. Although it could be merely fortuitous, we note that the entire LC I metal assemblage known thus far from Kalavasos is restricted to weapons. The remains of the Late Cypriot I period recovered at sites elsewhere on the island are frequently associated with signs of violent conflict, including fortifications (Astrom 1972, 764), mass burials and significant quantities of weaponry in tombs (Merrillees 1971, 75-6).



Author’s Note: This is a revamped version of an article that first appeared in the Reports of the Department of Antiquities Cyprus in 1985. The colour photographs featured in this piece are presented here for the first time. Some portions of the text were lifted verbatim from the original article and therefore reflect the archaeological situation in Cyprus some 30-odd years ago. Subsequent finds, new chronological interpretations and research are not included in the above discussions and analyses. Special thanks to Dr Vassos Karageorghis for permission to excavate and publish Tomb 51. There were also several individuals who provided assistance during the excavation and subsequent cleaning, drawing, and study of the Tomb 51 material to whom I am most grateful. In Kalavasos: Paul Croft, the late great Stavros “the Butcher” Elia (for providing sufficient amounts of VSOP in the evenings!), Larissa Hordynsky, Alsion South, and Dr Ian Todd; Dr R.S. Merrillees for many insightful discussions on Late Cypriot I and II ceramics; Dr Karl Petruso for calculating the capacity of the Canannite jar; in the Larnaca District Museum: Andreas Savvas, Marinos Avraam and Stavros Rovithas; the village community of Kalavasos for their warm encouragement and hospitality before, during and after the rescue excavations.




Bibliographical References



This presentation of Tomb 51 is dedicated to the memory of the late great Mr Stavros “The Butcher” Elia: “Theos”, friend, teacher, drinking-buddy, provider of VSOP, spiritual leader of Kalavasos Village. R.I.P…