Multi-national archaeologists to spotlight Cyprus, cultural, political crossroads

Oct. 23, 2012

For the full schedule, the poster, and online registration/RSVP options, click here:

By Darla Martin Tucker

RIVERSIDE, Calif. – ( The Republic of Cyprus, a copper-rich island in the Eastern Mediterranean Sea off the coasts of Turkey and Syria, has long been noted as the crossroads between Europe, Africa and the Middle East.

A member state of the European Union since 2008, the tiny nation, originally settled by Mycenaean Greeks, exists with a de facto separation between the area under effective government control and a northern portion controlled by Turkey. The division is rooted in more than three decades of power struggles and violence between Cypriot Greeks and Turks.

On Sat., Nov. 10 and Sun., Nov. 11, La Sierra University’s 4th Annual Archaeology Discovery Weekend will feature archaeologists and other scientists from Cyprus, Israel, Canada and the United States who will provide a detailed picture of the island nation, highlighting its rich cultural past as the birthplace of copper production, its mixture of people and customs, its religious evolution and archaeological treasures.

The weekend of activities begins at 3 p.m. on Nov. 10 with opening lectures, followed by archaeology displays, a Middle Eastern reception in a Bedouin hospitality tent and an evening banquet celebrating the opening of the Center for Near Eastern Archaeologyat La Sierra. Activities on Nov. 11 include a Teachers’ Workshop; an Archaeology Adventures simulated dig on campus for elementary school-aged children; hands-on labs for learning stone knapping, ancient pottery reconstruction, pottery dating and other activities; and concurrent lectures and illustrated presentations on various aspects of Cypriot archaeology and history.

Dr. Gloria London, director of the Tall al-'Umayri Teachers Institute will lead the Teachers’ Workshop on Nov. 11 for educators in K-12 public and private schools. The workshop will include labs “to learn how archaeologists know what we know about the past and why the past is important. The labs are for teachers of all subjects since archaeology combines social studies, math, and the physical sciences,” said London. The workshop qualifies for one 10-hour continuing education unit.

Erez Ben-Yosef, an archaeology lecturer at the University of Tel-Aviv, Israel is among several scientists who will give presentations on Nov. 11. His will discuss how ancient copper production on Cyprus helps researchers decipher Earth’s ancient geomagnetic field, a protective bubble that shields the Earth from the sun’s radiation, and how this knowledge aids the current research of geophysicists and archaeologists.

“We recently demonstrated that copper slag [smelting process residue] is among the best materials for magnetic experiments,” said Ben-Yosef. Cyprus has numerous deposits of slag from various periods. Understanding ancient geomagnetic field behavior helps geophysicists better understand ways the magnetic field works, radiocarbon production and other phenomena, while archaeologists use such information to date sites of unknown age, he said. “The current project in Cyprus …discovered the highest field ever recorded and got an answer to a very pressing question: are we currently going towards a reversal and complete decline of the field’s strength?”

Archaeologists Pamela Gaber, director of the Idalion excavations in Cyprus, and Thomas Davis, former director of the Cyprus American Archaeological Research Institute in Nicosia, Cyprus, will bookend the weekend’s activities with opening lectures at 3 p.m. on Nov. 10, and marquee lectures at 7 p.m. on Nov. 11.

On Nov. 10 Gaber will discuss “Cyprus and the Bible,” and Davis will speak on “Saint Paul on Cyprus.”

“Recent archaeological work on Cyprus allows a much better understanding of the context of the Pauline visit underscoring the cultural accuracy of the Acts account,” said Davis in summary. “A clearer picture of first century Cyprus is emerging, as a complex multi-cultural entity looking both east and west. …internal cultural divisions of the province explain the change of Saul, the apostle to the Jews, to Paul the apostle to the Gentiles transforming Christianity.”

For the final marquee lectures on Nov. 11, Gaber will give a presentation on “Artistic Representations of Goddess Worship in Cyprus and the Levant” while Davis will speak on “Fourth-century Cyprus and the Transition to Christianity.”

Davis’ lecture will explore how massive earthquakes across the island during the fourth century AD produced crises of faith for both pagans and Christians and transformed the development of Cypriot cultural identity. Both faiths “were challenged by the destruction that was perceived to be divinely ordained,” he said. “How did the followers of these faiths respond?”

Gaber and Davis are also professors, respectively, at Lycoming College, Williamsport, Penn., and Southwest Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth, Texas.

Archaeology Discovery Weekend general admission is free. The Archaeology Adventures/Kids’ Dig is $5 per child, RSVP by Nov. 9; Middle Eastern Banquet is $50 per person, RSVP by Nov. 9; Teachers’ Workshop is $75 per person, RSVP by Nov. 7. An event schedule is available online at Further information is at 951-785-2041, or by email at La Sierra University is located at 4500 Riverwalk Parkway, Riverside.

Archaeology Discovery Weekend will also include presentations by the following archaeologists and scientists: Kent Bramlett, assistant professor of archaeology and history of antiquity, La Sierra University; Justin Lev-Tov, zooarchaeologist with Statistical Research, Inc., Redlands, Calif.; Alan Simmons distinguished professor of anthropology at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas; Julie Cormack, associate professor of anthropology, Mount Royal University, Calgary, Alberta, Canada;

For the full schedule, the poster, and online registration/RSVP options, click here:

  • Last update on  October 29, 2012