SCY200 : Politiko Phournia

Grid reference: 520150/3875950
Cadastral plan: XXX/57
Aerial photo: 1993, Run 176, No. 51

The remnants of Phournia are located in an arable field (colluvium) in the Kouphos River Valley; initial visits revealed a scatter of Late Chalcolithic material, with a small component (Black Topped ware) possibly going back to the beginning of the Middle Chalcolithic period. There were, in addition, a few Philia transitional elements. SCSP carried out a 5-m gridded collection of material at Phournia, and over the course of the following year several pottery specialists examined the material in our storeroom. In October of 1999, topographic and geophysical survey (resistivity and magnetometer) was conducted at Phournia, across 20-m grids on a 1-m interval.

The arable field (colluvium) within the Kouphos River Valley that comprises SCY200 slopes gently to the southeast and is cut by a single agricultural terrace on the south. It is situated on a mid-Holocene river terrace whose minimum age is likely to be the Bronze Age. That is, for some period of time, prior to and probably ending in the Bronze Age, the Kouphos River flowed close to the elevation of Phournia, which would have been situated on the floodplain along the river. During the Late Chalcolithic and Bronze Age periods, the river appears to have had a more braided character with a broader channel and wider floodplain. Incision and confinement of the channel have occurred subsequently. Phournia is presently bounded on three sides by deep gullies, and on the northwest by a shallower gully, traversed by the modern dirt track.

During the Chalcolithic period, Cyprus experienced a remarkable expansion of settlement and population, best indicated in the archaeological record by excavated settlements such as Erimi Pamboula, Lemba Lakkous and Kissonerga Mosphilia. The characteristic Chalcolithic 'settlement cluster' just to the west of the SCSP survey area shows two similarities with Phournia: (1) location on a fluvial terrace just beside or above a stream/river, and (2) comparable surface material remains (e.g., Red Monochrome and Red Lustrous wares, lithics, groundstone). The 'settlement cluster' concept stipulates that, when the diagnostic surface material of two or more neighbouring sites of this period cannot be distinguished temporally, the sites would have served different functions within a single catchment area.

Finally, the pottery and lithics from Phournia provide new information about the Chalcolithic period, not just in the north-central Troodos but over all of Cyprus. For example, it is now evident that Late Chalcolithic Stroke Burnished ware represents an improvement and refinement of Middle Chalcolithic Spawled ware. We can also see that certain fabrics, shapes and wall thickness of various pieces resemble the Chalcolithic assemblage, but have red and black polished surfaces more similar to Philia wares, e.g., Philia Red Lustrous ware. In spatial terms, this pushes the extent of the Philia 'facies' a bit further east on the island. Likewise the chipped stone assemblage from Phournia, especially with half the stone tools identified as scrapers, shows close similarities in both manufacture and use wear with other Chalcolithic sites on the island.

With material dating from two transitional periods at either end of the Late Chalcolithic, Phournia has the potential, prima facie, to tell us as much about the Chalcolithic era and the transition to the Bronze Age as Kissonerga Mosphilia, perhaps the most important Chalcolithic site on the island. Its importance thus should not be underestimated, particularly now that geophysical prospection work has confirmed the coherence of the survey materials and the subsurface deposits.