Dreamer's Bay ancient quarries

Akrotiri-Dreamer’s Bay (Nissarouin) ancient quarries

Please note that Nissarouin (Dreamer’s Bay) is inside RAF Akrotiri airbase, and is not accessible to the general public.

The ancient quarry landscape at Nissarouin (Dreamer’s Bay) (Image (c) Google Earth and Digital Globe, 2018).

Along the cliff top overlooking Dreamer’s Bay is a large area of stone quarrying, at least part of which appears to belong to the Roman era. This is an ancient industrial landscape, connected both with the nearby villages where the quarry workers and most other residents of the peninsula lived, and with the harbour below, protected by an artificial breakwater or jetty (now submerged). Blocks for building work and mill stones were produced here, and transported inland by wagon, or exported by ship to other parts of Cyprus. 

At this point on Akrotiri’s southern cliffs Greco-Roman mineral prospectors identified outcrops of conglomerate, comprising small hard pebbles originally washed down from Troodos, naturally cemented together. Some of the conglomerate was very tough, and was exploited for making round millstones, probably mainly for grinding the flour of daily bread. Curved grooves still survive in places, marking where millstones were roughed out.

The quarry workers also cut blocks for buildings. Again, many grooves can be seen marking where squared stones have been removed, also resulting in the ‘saw-tooth’ face of the central part of the quarry zone. In places, chisel marks, too, are still to be seen on carefully prepared surfaces.

Quarrying was backbreaking work, using iron tools. Human muscle power was assisted by use of wooden wedges, soaked in water to make them swell and split the rock. This was the presumed purpose of a water channel traceable across part of the site.

A track in which heavy wagons gouged deep wheel ruts into the rock shows where stone was moved inland. On the steep slope below the quarries lies a huge dump of brown earth. This, which had once overlain the rock deposits sought by the quarry workers, had been thrown over the edge, to get it out of the way but also perhaps to serve as a ramp for lowering stones to ships anchored below. The products of the quarries were probably an important reason for developing a harbour here.

Interim reports on the Dreamer’s Bay project are available online


‘Saw-tooth’ face of a stone quarry on the cliff-top above Dreamer’s Bay (Nissarouin) () (Image (c) Simon James) 

Archaeology of the Akrotiri Peninsula, Cyprus