Xeros River Valley

Settled and Sacred Landscapes of Cyprus

Coordinated by

Prof. Athanasios Vionis (University of Cyprus)
Prof. Giorgos Papantoniou (Trinity College Dublin)
Dr Doria Nicolaou

Starting year


Archaeology in the valley

Xeros (meaning the ‘dry river’ in Greek), or Xeropotamos as some locals call it, stems from the area west of the Stavrovouni Mountain in the Larnaka district in Cyprus and flows into the sea, a few meters away from the modern yacht shelter in Alaminos. The river creates a fertile valley along its way, where people from antiquity to this day used a canalisation system to water their orchards.

Settled and Sacred Landscapes of Cyprus (SeSaLaC) is a systematic archaeological survey project in the Xeros River valley. The project aims to identify, map and interpret traces of pre-modern human activity in the valley in order to examine the interaction of secular and religious space with the natural environment, using a range of informed methods of intensive field survey and digital recording.

Community archaeology

The valley of Xeros witnessed episodes of segregation and violence between the Turkish and Greek communities during the 1960s and early 1970s and, after the partition of the island of 1974, the displacement of its Turkish Cypriot communities and the resettlement of Greek Cypriot refugees. Some heritage assets of the valley have been abandoned or deliberately destroyed over this period, marking the landscape of the valley.

The public outreach initiatives carried out within the SeSaLaC project seek to raise awareness about the archaeological and historical significance of the valley both to the local communities and the wider public. They aim to wanted to change the negative association of the valley in the collective memory of the Greek Cypriots who reside there nowadays. The SeSaLaC project set up a cultural route to historical places in the landscape through a mobile app and two public outreach activities that included a guided tour and an educational activity for kids in the two main communities of the valley, Kophinou and Alaminos.

Children taking part in the surface survey educational activity during the Archaeology day at Alaminos (UnSaLa-CY)

Xeros River Valley and LOGGIA

The team working in the Xeros River Valley has already started working with vulnerable groups, specifically with people suffering from the Huntington’s disease, a rare, inherited disease that causes the progressive degeneration of nerve cells in the brain. LOGGIA will build on previous experiences to investigate the link between community wellbeing and archaeology and on the concept of abandonment, which connects Huntington’s disease with the troubled recent history of the valley.

Thanks to the support of the following partners, LOGGIA will design and perform a series of activities based on the historic landscape in the Xeros River Valley.

  • Cyprus Institute of Neurology and Genetics
  • Cyprus Alliance for Rare Disorder
  • Archaeological Research Unit of the University of Cyprus
  • Huntington’s Disease Association of Cyprus

More on Xeros River Valley

On the archaeological research

  • Papantoniou, G., & Vionis, A. 2018. The River as an Economic Asset: Settlement and Society in the Xeros Valley in Cyprus. Land 7(4): 157.
  • Papantoniou, G., & Vionis, A. 2017. Landscape Archaeology and Sacred Space in the Eastern Mediterranean: A Glimpse from Cyprus. Land 6(2): 40.

On community archaeology

  • Vionis, A., Papantoniou, G., & Savvides, N. 2023. Landscape archaeology in a contested space: Public engagement and outreach in the Xeros River valley in Cyprus. Journal of Greek Archaeology 8: p.299–324.
  • Ioannou, E., Lanitis, A., Vionis, A.K., Papantoniou, G., & Savvides, N. 2021. Augmented Reality Cultural Route at the Xeros River Valley, Larnaca, Cyprus. In M. Ioannides, E. Fink, L. Cantoni, & E. Champion (eds) Digital Heritage. Progress in Cultural Heritage: Documentation, Preservation, and Protection. Lecture Notes in Computer Science, 695–702. Cham: Springer International Publishing.
  • Papantoniou, G. 2021. ‘Abandonment’: Archaeology in the service of society. Hestia Blog. Available at: https://hestia-blog.squarespace.com/blog/abandonment-archaeology-in-the-service-of-society [Accessed June 7, 2022].