Hidden Pasts: Developing narratives for community archaeology and local history at Arediou, Cyprus

Lead Research Organisation: University of Wales Trinity Saint David
Department Name: Archaeology and Anthropology


This project sets out with the intention of informing local people about their past, perhaps even "re-introducing" them to the past, both recent and ancient and is based around the community of Arediou on Cyprus. It is intended that by encouraging and empowering the local community to better understand the continuity between their ancient and modern history, that they will not only embrace, but also gain the pride to want to curate and eventually even disseminate their own archaeology and history.

Because of the geographical position of the island, Cyprus has been subjected to many different cultures and beliefs for hundreds, if not thousands of years, not only that, but they have also frequently been ruled by people they would deem to be outsiders or even invaders. As such they have often been dictated to throughout history, and that is how many modern-day residents of the island generally, and Arediou in particular, feel about their archaeological sites today. By that we mean that they feel "distanced" and unattached from their archaeology and therefore history, and the only real information they have is what has been communicated to them from some central government department. As a result of this discrepancy/shortfall, the locals have very little respect for the archaeological remain , even ones that fall within their own immediate area - consequently they are treated with scant regard and are often seen as simply targets for looting, or the gathering of curiosities.

Cyprus as a whole is rapidly changing and becoming more and more 'Westernised'. Property developing is moving at a pace and as a consequence the traditional mud-brick houses are disappearing from the landscape. Arediou on the other hand, although experiencing inevitable change, is somewhat isolated from the pressures that many areas are experiencing and still retains a fair number of these older buildings. Not only that, but because of the rural nature of the village, it also has many older residents who were born and bred in the village, and who retain lucid memories of their childhood and important events within the recent history of the area.

By combining the ancient with the modern, in other words the archaeology with the contemporary ; the project intends to present a more holistic version of their cultural heritage/history to the villagers. A doorway to the ancient already exists via the ongoing excavation of a Bronze Age site in the village and it is intended that this should be coupled with not only the oral record provided by the older residents, including accounts of Ottoman rule and more recently EOKA resistance (against British occupation) and the 1974 invasion (by Turkey), but also a photographic record of many of the extant mud-brick buildings within the area, many of which were the original family homes during Ottoman rule. Constructing their history in this way will make it more meaningful and therefore accessible to the community, it will also encourage them and give them the confidence to take possession of what is, and always has been, theirs. The process of disseminating the information to the community will be done via hands-on sessions in the local school, combined with site visits that would be open to the general public, as well as an information booklet written in Greek. In addition and along with help from the Department of Antiquities in Nicosia it is intended to provide a display of artefacts from our excavation at Arediou accompanied by story boards, to be permanently housed in the new Civic Centre in the village, thereby making the whole story permanently visible and available to a much wider audience. All the information will then be compiled and used to produce a bi-lingual website that would be hosted and regularly maintained from our servers at the University in Wales.

Planned Impact

The fundamental purpose of this project is to promote a wider understanding of the value and relevance of the past (both recent and ancient) as a means of safeguarding the archaeological record for future generations and to address narratives of cultural heritage within a local context. As such knowledge exchange between the project members, wider academic community and the wider public has been very carefully thought through. Accordingly, we have identified four main areas to facilitate the dissemination of information and to engage with the wider public:

1. Development of a bilingual (Greek and English) website, outlining the main aims and objectives of the "Hidden Pasts" project. The archaeological material from the excavations will be presented in a format that is accessible to a non-specialist audience, namely within a narrative framing the significance of Arediou within the Bronze Age cultural landscape of Cyprus. Additionally, and to develop the theme further, some of the preliminary results from the pilot project recording images and histories will be presented.

2. Engaging with the Community Council at Arediou, specifically facilitating communications with the relevant government body (Department of Antiquities, Nicosia), as well as collaborative efforts using the appropriate expertise from within the Department (thereby ensuring maximum exploitation), with the express aim of establishing an exhibition space within the recently constructed Civic Centre in the village. This exhibition will be available to the wider community and will allow them to experience and engage with their archaeological heritage.

3. Building upon previous initiatives at Arediou we will be instigating ongoing community engagement mediated via the Village School. This will involve hands-on sessions in which the school children are able to actively engage with the archaeological material from their own local site. In addition we have been asked to organise site visits for the school children. These sessions will be conducted by the PI through the medium of Greek, and will result in an informative body of information being permanently and readily available via the local school.

4. In addition to these sessions we will also produce an illustrated booklet in Greek presenting the local archaeology in a format suitable for the school children: this will tell the story of the local archaeology during the Bronze Age: why people lived at the site, how they lived and worked at the site, the importance of the ancient copper trade and the interactions beyond Cyprus with Egypt and the Aegean.


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Description One of the stated objectives in our initial application was to transform 'poachers into gamekeepers': we are very aware in the past that many finds from our excavation site, and other ancient sites in the area, have been looted and have been made privy to some of these finds. The ethical issues of cultural ownership were very clearly addressed by the dissemination of knowledge about the archaeology with the wider community as part of our daily interaction, alongside the more considered methodologies outlined above. Our success can be measured in part by the response to the oral histories and school handling sessions outlined below, but perhaps more so by the successful negotiation to "return" a key artefact from Arediou Vouppes to the Department of Antiquities, along with details of its provenance.

1. Museum /exhibition space. In consultation with the Department of Antiquities, and working closely with the local community, we have identified a suitable space within the recently built municipal building to house the proposed display of archaeological artefacts. We have drawn up a list of objects from the excavation that are suitable for display within this exhibition, including a group of recently restored vessels from the work-rooms of Building 1 (http://www.trinitysaintdavid.ac.uk/en/archaeologyhistoryandanthropology/research/excavationsatarediou-vouppescyprus/studyseason2007/). The Department of Antiquities was very positive about the implementation of this display and we were able to create a line of communication between the Community Council and the curator of the Cyprus Museum. The successful completion of this phase of the project now lies in the hands of the koinotarchis (local mayor) and the local community.

2. Educational Resource. We have continued to work closely with the village school in Arediou, using this as a forum for informing the wider community about their archaeology. We have provided the school with photographs from the excavation, which are used as teaching materials, and also an artist's impression of the ancient site of Arediou. (http://www.trinitysaintdavid.ac.uk/en/archaeologyhistoryandanthropology/research/excavationsatarediou-vouppescyprus/studyseason2012/). Another key part of the project was hands-on sessions in the village school (ages 5-10), following on from the pilot session in 2012. The village children were able to handle various objects from the excavation - including grinding grain on one of the several querns excavated at the site - and also under careful close supervision could handle the restored pottery assemblage from the workrooms. In close consultation with the teachers, we have completed a booklet and quiz, aimed mainly at the older children at the school (8-10 years), and a series of worksheets aimed at the younger school children. The booklet and worksheets are currently being translated and the illustrations finalised.

3. Photographic Record. We have built up an archive of the old village houses in Arediou (http://www.trinitysaintdavid.ac.uk/en/arediou-hiddenpasts/theoldvillage/), which we have supplemented with oral histories concerning the use of space within the houses. As our knowledge base of the traditional lifeways of the community of Arediou has increased we have extended the photographic record to create a wider picture of the village within its social and economic landscape - one which we have also identified as a contested landscape. The photographic record includes a detailed video record of the wider landscape of Arediou which is currently being further developed and will be added onto the web page, under the theme "a sense of place". Some of the photographic record is available on the web page (see link above). Other elements are being used as illustrative material for seminar papers and a journal publication presenting results of this research. The webpage is currently being translated into Greek and Turkish.

4. Oral histories. The pilot study collecting oral histories has been very successful, but equally very challenging. Given our very close relationship with the wider community at Arediou (built up over approximately10 years ) we found that people were very happy to share memories with us. Perhaps more importantly our research has generated a very real interest in local histories, which has been taken up by the family of the village priest. This resulted in their organising a tour around the old village for older members of the community in June. Our aim was specifically to generate an interest in the local histories and to promote local ownership and narratives of this past - in this respect the project has been a resounding success. In particular older members of the community were eager to share memories about how the village has changed and the old way of life; frequently commenting to us that the younger members of the community have no interest in their past, instead being more interested in the allure of western (non-Cypriot) culture. Some of the details recovered have been invaluable for creating an understanding of the ancient community of Arediou.

Given the sensitive and personal nature of the many stories of Arediou's contested past, we have been faced with very real concerns about how this material is used and disseminated, both to an academic audience and to the wider local community. We are also very aware the stories we have heard represent only a partial account of the recent past - the Turkish villages forced to leave in 1974, for example, effectively have no voice. We have been able to collect oral traditions concerning the Ottoman occupation of Arediou. Likewise we found that the very strong sense of Greek identity of many of our informants meant they were happy to talk about the events of 1974. There was a very different attitude to stories of EOKA (Ethniki Organosis Kipriakou Agonos: National Organisation of Cypriot Struggle [against British imperial ruler]) from the few villagers old enough to have been involved in the struggle. Although there was clearly pride in their EOKA past (illustrated by EOKA memorabilia in many of the houses of older residents), there was an unwillingness to discuss this on record. Once the recorder was turned off, however, the stories flooded in.

Certainly, there is real interest in the Hidden Pasts project amongst the wider community of Arediou and this could be successfully carried forward; however, for the project to continue it would require a strong anthropological presence on the project team, to allow full consideration of the ethical issues in particular with the accumulation and dissemination of oral histories.
Exploitation Route The outputs were aimed at non-academic users

1. Teaching materials for the local village school;

2. Trilingual website outline project results;

3. Furthermore the project highlights the importance of continued community engagement in archaeological research and a resulted in a perceptible change in attitudes towards illicit antiquities.
Sectors Communities and Social Services/Policy,Education

URL http://www.trinitysaintdavid.ac.uk/en/arediou-hiddenpasts/
Description One of the primary areas of impact was with the village School - several hands-on sessions provided the local children an opportunity to experience their archaeological heritage first-hand. The teaching materials created (and an artist's impression of the site) are being integrated into the curriculum in the village school as is use of the project webpages. There has also been a perceivable increase in awareness within the local community of the value of their archaeological heritage, which has been embedded within narratives of more recent histories: for example history walks through the old village, community involvement in cleaning up the old village and river bed. An appropriate area for the proposed village school has been identified and discussions are still on-going. Current funding issues in Cyprus have impeded progress in this area. Knowledge exchange: results of research have been disseminated in university research seminars and also contributed to the PI's participation in the Culture and PostConflict Symposium in September 2014.
First Year Of Impact 2013
Sector Digital/Communication/Information Technologies (including Software),Education,Culture, Heritage, Museums and Collections
Impact Types Cultural,Societal

Description Teaching materials 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Local
Primary Audience Schools
Results and Impact We have developed a series of teaching aids for the local primary school in Arediou (children up to 11). The material has been translated into Greek - it comprises an illustrated information booklet, worksheets, quizzes and colouring-in sheets for the younger pupils.
The material was presented to the school, members of the local community council and also to archaeology colleagues in the Department of Antiquities, Cyprus.
This work has been carried out in conjuction with a series of school visits.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2012,2013,2014,2015