The Department of Antiquities, of the Ministry of Transport, Communications and Works, announces that the “Hala Sultan Tekke Hinterland Survey Project” completed its second season of surface survey, under the direction of Professor Ralf Vandam, Dr. Jan Coenaerts and Professor Karin Nys. Since 2021 the Vrije Universiteit Brussel is conducting an archaeological surface survey around the Late Bronze Age site at Dromolaxia-Vyzakia (also known as Hala Sultan Tekke ). The main aim of this survey is to place the settlement in a broader context and to reconstruct the long-term settlement dynamics in the area. The pilot study of 2021 focused on Dromolaxia-Melissari, located south of the “Hala Sultan Tekke” site, which indicated that “Hala Sultan Tekke” must have been much larger and more dispersed than once thought.

The focus of the 2022 campaign was to test this pattern further by exploring the area north/north-east of Dromolaxia-Vyzakia. This area, locally known as Palaeophikara, had not seen any systematic archaeological research before. After a three-week fieldwork campaign in October-November of 2022, two large and two small concentrations of archaeological materials were identified in Palaeophikara.

Considering the dating of the finds, a more diverse pattern was observed than last year since Late Bronze Age materials were no longer the predominant finds, but also material from later phases (i.e., the Iron Age, Cypro- Archaic, Hellenistic, and Roman periods) was found in large amounts. This indicates that the “Hala Sultan Tekke” area was not abandoned for a long time after the Late Bronze Age, but rather suggests that there was a movement in human activity across the landscape around the Salt Lake. Noteworthy was that one of the sites revealed possible ritual material culture, since several bull figurine parts, a head of a human figurine, and a tabloid seal were found on the surface. Considering the presence of Iron Age sanctuaries around the Salt Lake, it is not unlikely that there was also one located at Palaeophikara. More research needs to be carried out to confirm this hypothesis.