October 22, 2005
As we wandered around the site, it was clear that the architecture of these vast funeral monuments imitates the layout of villages of the period as narrow passageways weave their way through the site linking the various tombs. Indeed it was not difficult to imagine small hand carts being pulled through the lanes with wailing mourners following the “recently departed” to their final resting place. Apparently interspersed between the huge burial “houses” are “single plots” for individual burials – for the less wealthy or more lowly state officials, we surmised.
There is no map of the site, so it’s a matter of following your instinct. However, there are four main tombs to view and I don’t think you’ll fail to spot them. The first, on your left as you enter the site is the lowliest of them all and could be confused with the local morgue. There are a series of shelves for the storage of the sarcophagi and I’m sure would have been a worthy building for the family that commissioned the build. It’s kind of spooky to imagine each of these slots filled with elaborate coffins and the need to re-open the atrium for the introduction of the latest addition. This is clearly what would have happened and it is sad to report that by the time the official excavations started the whole of the site had been thoroughly and systematically looted of all burial paraphernalia.
The bigger tombs are amazing constructions with fluted pillars and ornate arches flanking quadrangles with what appears to be individual houses looking towards this central spot, each with individual niches for the corpses. These “dwellings” have been hewn out of the rock and its still possible to see the crude hackings on the rock face – a stark contrast to the finery of the carvings of the man-made constructs. In some areas there are hints of the original grandeur with evidence of plastered walls and early frescoes.
The builders of this site must have wanted to secure a good view for their dead, as there’s a superb seascape from every part of the complex. We were fortunate, as a lone whale could be seen circling close to the shore. Occasionally we caught a glimpse of the tail fin as it surfaced only to rapidly disappear to the depths. A great place to view the local bird life that seems to prosper in the “security” of the ancient graveyard.
From journal Episkopi Bay to Pafos