SeSaLaC (Settled and Sacred Landscapes of Cyprus) comprises the first archaeological intensive survey project of the University of Cyprus on the island, directed by Athanasios Vionis (University of Cyprus), Giorgos Papantoniou (University of Bonn) and Doria Nicolaou (University of Mainz). The areas under archaeological exploration is the region of Kofinou (Larnaca District), and the environs of the ancient site of Kourion (Limassol District). Our research project can be identified as one of the new-generation intensive surface survey programmes, adopting a more systematic methodology in landscape archaeology, and developing a more intensive approach to surface coverage, collection and recording of archaeological data and finds.
The systematic investigation and interpretation of landscape archaeology by the University of Cyprus, to which a permit for archaeological fieldwork was granted by the Department of Antiquities of the Republic of Cyprus, started in the region of Kofinou in 2014. The area of interest is defined by the present-day village of Kofinou (at the centre of our survey territory), by Pentaschoinos river and the village of Agios Theodoros (to the west), by Alaminos (to the south) and Menogeia (to the northeast). The survey area measures 3,900 hectares, it comprises a fertile valley surrounded by the Troodos foothills and a series of gentle hills, and it is crossed by the river Xeros.
The aims of our investigation are summarised as follows:
1. the identification of the relationship of the rural environment between the mountainous area of Troodos, the metaliferus regions and the coastline, and the role of river Xeros as a diachronic settlement pole,
2. the identification of the cultural identity of this region, laying in the zone between the kingdoms of Amathus, Kourion and Idalion,
3. the study of the rural landscape in the period from prehistory to the early modern era through the investigation of settlement activity and material culture,
4. the interpretation of the distribution of sacred sites and monuments and their relationship with the built environment, agricultural land, political formations and symbolic space.
The first field season in the region of Kofinou started in 2014. This first reconnaissance activity in the area gave priority to the training of archaeology students from the University of Cyprus in field-survey methodology and techniques, including the topographical and architectural recording of archaeological sites and monuments through the technical equipment and support of ArtLandS Lab. Meanwhile, the systematic recording of surface archaeological material in combination with the digital documentation of architectural features and remains in the framework of this summer field-school by SeSaLaC provided rewarding results in terms of archaeological sites of all periods in the area east of the Turkish-Cypriot settlement of Kofinou and around the middle Byzantine church of Panagia in a radius of 300-400 metres.