The archaeological site of Kalavasos lies in a dominant position to the west of the Vasilikos river valley, about 38 km southwest of Larnaka and 45 km south of Lefkosia. It can be seen from thehighway. According to local tradition the name goes back to 327 A.D. when St. Helen, the mother of of Constantine the Great stayed in a tent (Cyp: tenta) in this location during her visit to the island following the discovery of the Cross of the Crucifixion in Jerusalem.
The site of Kalavasos-Tenta was initially excavated in 1947 by P. Dikaios for the Department of Antiquities. Research stopped for many years until 1976 when the Vasilikos Valley Project commenced with the fieldwork of the Vasilikos Valley Project by the American Mission of the University of Brandeis under the direction of Prof. Ian Todd. The aim of the project, which is still in process, is to undertake multidisciplinary studies in the valley as a whole, including the area from the Kalavasos copper mines down to the coast.
Together with Choirokoitia, Kalavasos-Tenta provides evidence for the initial establishment, at the end of the 7th millennium B.C., of sedentary communities on the island, who originated from the neighbouring mainland. These communities developed an original civilisation: the Cypriote Aceramic Neolithic. The settlement is surrounded by walls and consists of a compound of buildings with simple circular or double circular ground plans built with sun-dried mudbrick or stone or a combination of both. The roof was flat and was made of a wooden frame consisting of branches, reeds, pisé and earth. The roofs were principally flat but some buildings had domed roofs. The interior of the buildings had double rectilinear piers, which supported a partial upper wooden floor, hearths and benches. The plastered surfaces of the walls were occasionally embellished with painted decoration as in the case of one house where the wall-painting depicting two human figures with upraised hands has survived. The dead were buried beneath the floor of houses or in the open space between domestic buildings.
Like Choirokitia, the inhabitants of Kalavasos-Tenta used diabase, a hard stone, for manufacturing stone vessels, which constitute a particular characteristic of the Cypriote Aceramic Neolithic. Picrolite a smooth green stone, found in abundance in the Kouris river-bed west of Lemesos, was used for jewellery-making. The civilisation of Kalavasos-Tenta suddenly vanished at the end of the Aceramic period simultaneously with Choirokoitia, and no adequate explanation has been given regarding its disappearance. Kalavasos-Tenta, like other Aceramic sites on the island, was abandoned and the island appears to have remained free from human presence for a long time, until the emergence of a new civilisation: the Ceramic Neolithic.
During 1994 and 1995 a pyramidal roof, financed by the Department of Antiquities and the A.G. Leventis Foundation, was constructed over the site for its better protection.
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