Between East and West: Pyla-Kokkinokremos excavation project (2016-2021)

Between East and West: The Cyprus Pyla-Kokkinokremos Excavation Project.

Pyla 4The site of Pyla-Kokkinokremos – located  on a rocky plateau – lies about 10 km east of Larnaca, ancient Kition, and some 20 km southwest of Enkomi, two major Bronze Age centres of the 13th-12th c. BC, the period known as Late Cypriot IIC and IIIA.

The site was explored at previous occasions: by P. Dikaios in 1952, by V. Karageorghis in 1981-1982 and, more recently, in 2010-2013, by V. Karageorghis and A. Kanta. Since 2014, the excavation is a joint venture between J. Bretschneider (Ghent University/KU Leuven), J. Driessen (UCLouvain) and A. Kanta (Mediterranean Archaeological Society).

Based on the different explorations, it can be assumed that the entire plateau of ca. 7 ha was densely occupied. Most telling is the excavation of part of a regularly laid-out settlement in the eastern and north-western sector of which the outer perimeter ‘casemate’ wall is assumed to have encircled the entire hill top plateau. The repetition of residential units within the excavated sectors appears to suggest that the establishment of the settlement was a deliberate and planned enterprise. Moreover, the discovery of material culture including several hidden hoards of precious metals seems to indicate the planned and organised abandonment of the settlement.

Former excavations have yielded two tablets inscribed in Cypro-Minoan and have confirmed the international character of its material culture like for example Minoan, Canaanite, Mycenaean, Sardinian, Hittite and Cypriote ceramics. The project aims to get a better understanding of the multicultural character of the site, especially against the background of the continuing discussion on migration, interaction and acculturation, which typifies the late 13th and early 12th c. BC in the Eastern Mediterranean.

Pyla-Kokkinokremos was established at a time when the crisis reached its zenith, just a few decades prior to its eventual seemingly premeditated abandonment. While the settlement was never reoccupied and has a lifespan of less than fifty years, Pyla becomes a very valuable ‘time capsule’ of the LC IIC-IIIA critical phase. Owing to these facts together with its ethnically amalgamated material, the archaeological data from Pyla-Kokkinokremos surface as an exceptional opportunity to address the Late Bronze Age crisis and international contacts in the Levantine and Eastern Mediterranean world.

Pyla 5


  • Bretschneider J., Kanta A. & Driessen J. (2017) Pyla-Kokkinokremos (Cyprus): preliminary report on the 2015-2016 Campaigns . Ugarit-Forschungen 48: p.39-120
  • Kaniewski D., Bretschneider J. , Jans G., Morhange C. , Cheddadi R., Otto T. , Luce F. and Van Campo E. (2019) 300-year drought frames Late Bronze Age to Early Iron Age transition in the Near East: new palaeoecological data from Cyprus and Syria. Regional Environmental Change. DOI 10.1007/s10113-018-01460-w
  • Hermon S., Polig M., Driessen J., Jans G. & Bretschneider J. (2018). An integrated 3D shape analysis and scientific visualization approach to the study of a Late Bronze Age unique stone object from Pyla-Kokkinokremos,Cyprus,. Digital Applications in Archaeology and Cultural Heritage 9. Doi: 10.1016/j.daach.2018.e00075
  • Bretschneider J., Kanta A. & Driessen J. (2015). Pyla Kokkinokremos. Preliminary Report on the 2014 Excavations. Ugarit-Forschungen 46: p.1-37.


Prof Dr Joachim Bretschneider