CYPRUS – The ruins of an ancient banquet hall “where attendees feasted on sacrificial animals and drank wine to appease unknown gods 2,000 years ago has been unearthed in Cyprus,” the Daily Mail (DM) reported on July 15.
The banquet hall was “constructed near a temple that once stood in the ancient city of Nea Paphos, which was settled in the southwestern region of the island at the end of the 4th century BC,” DM reported, adding that “the hall was designed as an open air facility with a courtyard built on a rock platform and a monumental alter that stood just a few feet from the sacred temple.”
“Archaeologists are still working to uncover the founders of the temple and ceremonial area, but they suspect the Romans constructed the complex to honor Venus, the goddess of love and fertility,” DM reported, noting that “the team has also speculated the structures may have been used to worship the ancient Greek god Aphrodite, but the ancient temple does not fit the typical Greek layout – there is no evidence of towering columns surrounding the area.”
“The city of Nea Paphos was under a number of different rulers during its existence,” DM reported, adding that “during the Hellenistic period, from 323 BC to 33 BC, the city was under the Egyptian Ptolemiac Kingdom in 295 BC and then Roman rule began in 58 BC. The Egyptian Ptolemiac Kingdom was a Macedonian Greek royal family that was founded in 305 BC by Ptolemy I Soter, a companion of Alexander the Great, and lasted until the death of Cleopatra VII in 30 BC.”
“The banquet hall and temple were unearthed at the highest point of Fabrica hill, which is situated near Saint Paul's Pillar and the Ancient Theater Ruins in the city of Kato Paphos,” DM reported.
Professor Jolanta Młynarczyk of the Department of Archaeology at the University of Warsaw, who is leading the research, told Nauka w Polsce (Science in Poland): “This was a place of sacred open air banquets, whose characteristic semi-circular outline is known in archaeology by the term 'stibadium'. Its central point was a circular recess with drainage, which was used for libations in honor of the gods,” DM reported.
While the walls of the hall are no longer standing, “researchers believe they were adorned with pictures or messages that would have told them the purpose of the ceremonial complex,” DM reported, noting that “the archeologists suggest both the temple and banquet hall were destroyed by an earthquake around 150 AD.”
“Our archaeological team is currently facing further tasks related to the comprehensive examination of the sacred area at Fabrica, leading to the final identification of the cult of deities or deities worshiped here in the Hellenistic and early Roman periods,” Prof. Młynarczyk said, DM reported.