Excavation site of the Paphos Theatre.

Paphos Theatre Archeological Project

Discovering a World Heritage-listed ancient theatre in Cyprus
We're excavating the ancient theatre and surrounding environs of the town that was the capital of Cyprus under the Ptolemaic and then Roman administrations.

About the project

As well as the physical excavation of the site, the team is working on the interpretation, cataloguing and publication of ceramic and other finds. The project is interested in:

  • the development of theatre architecture
  • the materiality of the spread of theatrical performance to the eastern Mediterranean during the Hellenistic period
  • ceramic production in Cyprus from the Hellenistic to post-medieval periods
  • the urban layout of the ancient city
  • the Roman use of water in an urban context.

To date, the project has produced four PhDs, one master's dissertation and more than 30 scholarly articles.

The Paphos excavations are a Sydney University Museum’s fieldwork project supported by the Australian Archaeological Institute at Athens.

The museum has had a long history of interest in the archaeology of Cyprus. More than 2000 Cypriot items are housed in the Nicholson Collection, including many finds excavated or acquired by former curator James Stewart 1913–62, who conducted significant fieldwork in Cyprus in the mid-20th century.

The University of Sydney has conducted excavations at the World Heritage-listed site of Nea Paphos since 1995, under the auspices of the Department of Antiquities of the Republic of Cyprus.

The excavations have revealed a theatre used for performance and entertainment for over six and a half centuries (c.300 BC to the late fourth century AD). At its maximum extent during the reign of the Antonine Emperors of the second century AD, the theatre could seat more than 8500 spectators.

Considerable medieval and post-medieval period finds have also been uncovered, as Paphos was a major trading port at the time of the Crusades.

Fieldwork is currently concentrating on investigating the urban layout of the surrounding theatre precinct, including revealing paved Roman roads and a Roman nymphaeum (water house).

We will be carrying out excavations at the Nea Paphos Theatre site in coming years. Applications to join the team as a student or contributing volunteer can be made through the project's website.

To find out more information and to apply to join the team, please visit the project website.

  • Dr Craig Barker, Project Director (University of Sydney)
  • Emeritus Professor J Richard Green, Project Emeritus Director (University of Sydney)
  • Dr Smadar Gabrieli, Project Co-Director (Hebrew University of Jerusalem)