Akrotiri-Dreamer’s Bay (Nissarouin) ancient port
Please note that Dreamer’s Bay is inside RAF Akrotiri airbase, and is not accessible to the general public.
Excavation of ancient port buildings at Dreamer’s Bay in 2018 (image (c) Simon James).
In Roman and early Byzantine times (about AD 100—600), what seems to be a substantial seaport existed on the southern coast of the Akrotiri peninsula of Cyprus. Located at Nissarouin (known locally as Dreamer’s Bay in English), the small natural harbour in the bay itself possessed an artificial breakwater, and was associated with nearby shoreline buildings, and stone-quarries on the cliffs above. The port doubtless served Akrotiri’s village communities, but was probably also an important trade gateway for the nearby city of Kourion, 13 km to the North. Ships brought cargoes here from other parts of the Roman empire, including the Aegean, Anatolia (Turkey), Palestine and Egypt.
Perhaps a harbour from Hellenistic Greek times (i.e. by the 3rd century BC), most of the known remains of the port are certainly later. The harbour’s 150m-long breakwater, now submerged, was constructed of coursed masonry. Above the harbour, quarries preserve the shapes of the squared building blocks and round millstones cut for export.
For 500 m west of the bay, along the only stretch of low shoreline on this coast which otherwise comprises tall cliffs, lie the stone foundations of multiple ancient buildings with courtyards. Excavations conducted in 2015-18 indicate that these were used for storage and transhipment of goods like wine and olive oil, and also for maintenance of merchant vessels and resupplying their crews with food and water. However, it seems that no-one actually lived here: this was an industrial and commercial complex, with no sign of domestic dwellings. The port workers apparently lived nearby in inland villages like Kato Katalymata.
Exploration of the ancient port has been a collaborative project. The remains were initially identified by local Cypriots, serving UK Forces personnel and the Western Sovereign Base Areas Archaeological Society. Initial survey work was conducted by John Leonard, Stella Demesticha and Brad Ault. A full programme of research is being undertaken by the Ancient Akrotiri Project, directed by Simon James of the University of Leicester, with Lucy Blue of Southampton University leading the marine work. It is conducted with the participation of Cypriot colleagues, with the permission and kind support of the Cyprus Department of Antiquities and the UK Ministry of Defence.
The Dreamer’s Bay port area (Image (c) Google Earth and Digital Globe, 2018)