Skip to main content
Breadcrumb

The Söderberg Expedition: The Bronze Age City of Hala Sultan Tekke, Cyprus

Research project
Active research
Project size
1.191.000
Project period
2019 - 2022
Project owner
Institutionen för historiska studier

Short description

In the years 2010 to 2019, the Söderberg Expedition carried out excavations at the harbour city of Hala Sultan Tekke, Cyprus (near modern Larnaca). The city has a likely size of 25–50 hectares which makes it one of the largest Bronze Age cities of the Mediterranean. It flourished 1650–1150 BC. Trade with Egypt, the Levant, Anatolia, Greece / Crete and Sardinia was the backbone of the city's economy which was based on locally produced copper and purple-dyed textiles. Geophysical surveys of 23 hectares led to the discovery of the hitherto largest interconnected city quarter (CQ4): a rectangular street system leading to the nearby port connects massive buildings of stone of an obviously administrative compound.

The Söderberg Expedition: The Bronze Age city of Hala Sultan Tekke

Area of excavations

Ten seasons of excavations at the Bronze Age harbour city of Hala Sultan Tekke have been carried out under the supervision of Professor P.M. Fischer from the University of Gothenburg, Sweden. The city which flourished from 1650–1150 BCE is between 25 and 50 hectares large which makes it one of the largest in the Mediterranean. Based on geophysical surveys with magnetometers and georadar excavations concentrated on four city quarters (CQ1–4) and the extraurban cemetery (Area A, Fig. 1).

Image
Fig. 1. CQ1–4, Area A.

Results

CQ1 is an industrial city quarter with domestic architecture and workshops for the production of copper (Figs. 2, 3) and purple-dyed textiles.

Image
Fig. 2. CQ1, drone photograph.
Image
Fig. 3. Approx. 1 ton of copper slag from CQ1.
Image
Fig. 4. Dagger pommel of ivory from CQ1 (c. 1200 BCE).

In CQ2, too, copper was produced but the manufacture of purple-dyed textiles dominates (Fig. 5).

Image
Fig. 5. Murex shells for the production of purple dye.

CQ3 is only partly excavated. There are many imported finds mainly form the Mycenaean sphere of culture and Egypt.

Image
Fig. 6. CQ3 to the left (west), CQ2 centre, CQ1 to the right; drone photograph from 2015.

CQ4 seems to be an administrative quarter with massive structures of stone according to the results from our geophysical surveys (Figs. 7–11).

Image
Fig. 7. Magnetic prospecting with 10 magnetometers.  
Image
Fig. 8. Magnetometer map, CQ4.

In CQ4 a bathroom built of ashlar blocks with an advanced hydrotechnical installation was found. 

Image
Fig. 9. Drone photo of CQ4.

                                  

Image
Fig. 10. Bathroom in CQ4.
Image
Fig. 11.1 Cylinder seal of faience from the bathroom, c. 1200 BCE.
Image
Fig. 11.2 Cylinder seal of faience from the bathroom, c. 1200 BCE.

Area A

The extraurban cemetery (Area A) is east of the city (Fig. 1). It is one of the richest on the island with numerous tombs and offering pits. Imported tomb gifts and offered items came from a vast area: from Sardinia to Mesopotamia, and from Anatolia to Egypt. Tomb RR, for instance contain the burials of 38 individuals (state 2019, not completely excavated) and rich tomb gifts.

Image
Fig. 12. Tomb RR during excavation; female (25–30 years) surrounded by numerous tomb gifts (c. 1350 BCE).

 

Image
Fig. 13. Tomb RR; Mycenaean chariot krater (”Swordbearer krater”); c. 1350 BCE.
Image
Fig. 14 Tomb RR, Mycenaean imports; c. 1350 BCE.   

          

Image
Fig. 15. Tomb RR, Egyptian ivory button
Image
Fig. 16. Tomb RR, bronze knife with ivory handle

 

Image
Fig. 17. Tomb X, earrings.
Image
Fig. 18. Tomb LL, weights of haematite and grinding stone for calibrating the weights, gold diadem (c. 1450 BCE).
Image
Fig. 19. Nuragic (Sardinian) import from Offering Pit B.