Provenance analysis of the marble inscription plates of the Kourion sanctuary in Cyprus

A series of papers had been published on the maritime metal trade outgoing from Cyprus as well as on the trade of ceramic products but no information so far exists on the trade of marble and marble products into Cyprus. For the prevailing study it is important to mention, that no marble occurrences can be found on the island and consequently the marbles used for objects and artefacts, from their very nature, cannot originate from the island. Linked to the above statements the geologic features of Cyprus, the possibility of a precise provenance determination of marbles and the availability of marble artefacts whose diachronic situation is well established like the inscription plates of Kourion are perfect prerequisites of an investigation of the trans-regional trading relations of the island.

















Partial anastylosis of the temple of Apollon Hylates in Kourion (foto G. Ambros)
















Hymnos for Antinoos, 130 AD; marble from Heraklea/Miletos

Notwithstanding the limited number of samples we could analyze from the inscriptions of Kourion, we found a series of different marbles coming from widely differing regions of the ancient world. Represented in the investigated number of inscription plates (35 samples all in all) are the following types of marbles: Pentelikon (9), Prokonnesos (8), Ephesos (8), Heraklea/Mileto (3), ParosII (2), Carrara (2), dokimion (2) and Cap de Garde/Algeria (1).

A change of the types of marbles throughout the time can be observed. The early inscriptions are ± from Pentelicon while marbles from Asia Minor appear in the 1st century AD.












Diachronic use of the different types of marbles of the Kourion inscription plates