The house of Dionysos
Late 2nd century CE.
Paphos, Archaeological ParkPhoto by Sabina Tariverdieva

The house of Dionysos.

Late 2nd century CE.

Paphos, Archaeological Park

The excavations brought to light a large and wealthy residence of the Roman period, the first of its type to be found in Paphos and in Cyprus as a whole. The size of the building and the wealth of its mosaic decoration led to an initial identification of the owner with some high Roman official or even with the Proconsul himself. This identification, however, can now be dismissed for several reasons; the probable Proconsul’s residence (known as the Villa of Theseus) has since been discovered and excavated. Moreover, as more and more mosaic floors are located in the surrounding area, it is becoming clear that such rich decoration was not the exception but the norm for Paphos during the mid-Roman period. So, as far as the House of Dionysos is concerned, all that can be said with certainty is that it was one of several wealthy houses in one of the best quarters of ancient Paphos.
The building occupies an area of about 2000 square metres, of which 556 are covered with mosaic floors. As Dionysos (Bacchus), the god of wine, features rather prominently in some of these mosaics, the building has been named the House of Dionysos.
The mosaics (except the one now exhibited in Room 1) belong to the last of a series of buildings that once stood on this spot. Excavations carried out in some areas under the mosaics show that this last building made use of foundations and walls of an earlier building datable to the Flavian period, which itself stood on a series of earlier structures. The earliest of these appears to have been a sanctuary cut into the bedrock. A unique bone knife handle on which the god Harpokrates is depicted was found in this sanctuary. (…) The discovery of this knife handle in the sanctuary has led some scholars to suggest that this structure was dedicated to Harpokrates.
The area, the local name of which is Ktiston (structure) was exploited for a long time as a source of ready dressed stone blocks out of which new houses and even terrace walls were built. This activity, aggravated by the recent levelling operations, has led to the almost complete disappearance of the walls and the practically total elimination of the western part of the building. In fact most of what one actually sees to the west of the modern shed belongs to earlier buildings which came to light after the removal of the walls of this later house. What little survives of the walls shows that they were built of dressed stones laid in foundation trenches lined with small rough stones. The lack of walls often makes it difficult to establish the exact limits of a room.
The house appears to have been built at the very end of the 2nd cent. A.D. and to have been destroyed and abandoned after a series of earthquakes that ruined Paphos and most other towns in Cyprus in the first half of the 4th cent. A.D.
© 2008. Photo: S. Tariverdieva
© 1998 Text: W. A. Daszewski, D. Michaelidis. “Guide to the Paphos Mosaics”. Bank of Cyprus cultural foundation, 1998. P. 11—14.
Keywords: αρχιτεκτονική architectura architecture architettura architektur ελλάδα graecia greece greek grecia greca greco greche griechenland griechische griechisches grèce grecque grecquesё paphos archaeological park the house of dionysos cyprus kato nea lower new bacchus stone masonry masonwork rubble stonework block square