The primary objective of the Rantidi Forest Excavations is the investigation of the archaeological context of syllabic writing. Specifically, we undertook to understand the circumstances under which syllabic symbols would be placed upon stone, and the social, cultural, and/or ritual meaning these marks held. Although statistically, the preserved siege mound inscriptions are more numerous than those of the Rantidi Forest, they are ex-situ, having been ripped out of their original context to be used in the Persian siege mound. For this reason, the sanctuary in the Rantidi Forest provides by far the best evidence in which to observe the use of syllabic writing in its original, ritual context.
Excavation was extended far beyond the original goal of the sanctuary site itself as the RFE was requested to survey the entire plain of Kapsalia in preparation for the development of this area for the Aphrodite Hills resort and golf complex. This provided an excellent opportunity for the study of an ancient Cypriote sanctuary in its regional context. Special attention was paid to the landscape and its use over time.
The Rantidi Forest Excavations, under the direction of Dr. Georgia Bonny Bazemore, is a multi-site, diachronic, areal examination of a discrete geographic unit, the elevated plain of Kapsalia and the associated foothills of the Troodos Mountains. The Rantidi Forest Excavations began in 1996 with the mandate to survey this area in preparation for the construction of the Aphrodite Hills resort and Golf Club. Although an isolated back road today, it has been determined that the road into and through the Kapsalia plain was the main east-west thoroughfare from the beginning of Cypriote history until the use of dynamite in the early 20th century created the coastal road used today.
All of the sites discovered and documented by the Rantidi Forest Excavations are major settlements of their period. A large Chalcolithic village sits atop the spine of a long range of hills to the north of Kapsalia. The large number of worked stone tools and blades as well as evidence for quarrying indicate that this site produced stone tools for trade and export to other sites both within the island as well as the nearby mainland.
The primary objective of the Rantidi Forest Excavations is the hilltop sanctuary found at Lingrin tou Dhigeni. This site has been called "The playing stones of Diogenes" because of the vast number of worked stone from the collapsed walls of the temple buildings. Thousands of pieces of life-sized and over life-sized pieces of terra cotta statue have been found here, as well as the largest number of inscriptions written in the peculiar script of Cyprus, the so-called Cypro-Syllabic script. The Rantidi Forest Excavations has discovered almost fifty new inscriptions in this peculiar and arcane writing system. The site of Lingrin tou Dhigeni was in use, with some interruptions, throughout the first millennium B.C. There are more than 400 tombs which surround this sanctuary, which was the home of the god of Death and Resurrection, known by the Greeks as Adonis.
On each end of the Kapsalia plain are settlements from the period immediately following the abandonment of the Holy Land by the Crusaders. We have lots of medieval fine ware pottery, the so-called S-graffito ware, as well as a building from that time.
Finally, the Rantidi Forest was home to a large Hani or rest stop on the old carriage road. The Hani at Rantidi was also a working farm, with the largest plaqued threshing floor yet documented for south Cyprus, as well as a Havousa, or underground water tank, or dang.
The Rantidi Forest Excavations have uncovered and collected tens of thousands of artifacts from these sites, and is in the process of cataloging them in preparation for publication.
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