Archaeologists discover ancient banqueting sites carved in bedrock

A 2,000-year-old banqueting site has been uncovered in the ruins of Nea Paphos in Cyprus by archaeologists.
It was built in the 4th century BC on the southwestern portion of Cyprus and occupied throughout the Hellenistic and Roman periods.

It was discovered by a team of experts from Poland and France who have been investigating the southern portion of Fabrika Hill since 2017.

Probably utilised for the eating of sacrificial animals on a neighbouring colossal altar, the banqueting location was cut into the rock. A frequent practice not just in Cyprus, but in many Mediterranean civilizations, was feasting in honour of the gods, often paired with the consumption of sacrificed flesh.

As well as tombs and customary worship sites, similar sites may be discovered in Jordan from the Nabatean kingdom of Petra. An archaeologist informed PAP that “this is the first site of its sort found in Cyprus.”

A semi-circular structure, called a stibadium in archaeology, was used for open-air religious meals at the site. In the centre was a circular pit with a drain, which was used for libations in honour of a god.

Temple and libation site were in operation between 2nd century BC and mid-2nd century AD but were likely abandoned owing to an earthquake about 150 AD, according to the study team’s findings.

The patroness of Nea Paphos, Aphrodite Paphi, is said to have been worshipped on the hill.

We are presently working on a detailed investigation of the holy location atop Fabrika Hill, which will allow us to determine which deities were worshipped here in the Hellenistic and early Roman periods.

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