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Organized every year in the Vounos necropolis area in Northern Cyprus, the International Terra-Cotta Symposium is carried out again this year in September after a three-year delay because of the pandemic. The symposium is aimed at saving Vounous from being forgotten and destroyed and creating an awareness on this.

Prof. SEVIM CIZER / Izmir University of Economics, Faculty of Fine Arts and Design

As part of a project prepared by the investigative author Rauf Ersenal, and by the approval of Northern Cyprus, Catalkoy Municipality, High Commission of Monuments, there’s the International Terra-Cotta Symposium being organized in the Vounos necropolis area every year since 2017. What’s aimed here is to resurrect and protect the Vounous ancient city that has remained inactive for many years and was about to be forgotten and hand it down to next generations. Works created by several artists from inland and abroad, are being exhibited under a project throughout the symposium. These works will be made available for continuous display after this area in the vicinity of the city’s necropolis is taken under security and protection. One of the objectives is to turn this important place into an Open-Air Museum in the future.

Upon a report about unlicensed excavations in Vounous in 1931, the Ancient Relics Department archeologist of that time Dikaios has performed rescue excavations in this necropolis where he confirmed that it belongs to Early (2500-2000 B.C.) and Middle Bronze Age (2000-1650 B.C.). After the rescue of 48 graves and relics in them by Porphyrios Dikaios, the French archeologist Claude Schaeffer and the Australian archeologist James Stewart after him have continued the excavations in here. Hundreds of relics found in the graves in here are being displayed in Cyprus Museum, Paris Louvre Museum, British Museum, Australian Museum and many other places today.

The most significant and prominent characteristic of the Vounous culture is the terra-cotta works which are technically at a way more developed level than others of the same era, produced of a thin paste with a refined body and contain plastic compositions that convey detailed information about the daily life of the Vounous city. The scenes in these compositions are about the life, beliefs and relations of then such as the dough kneading women, sacrificial rites, extraction of fermented grape juice. It has been stated by the experts that in the Old Bronze Age, they migrated in masses from Anatolia to Cyprus and had advanced knowledge on agriculture, husbandry and mining.

Studies in Vounous today are takin form on four basic themes as Ancient Technologies, Experimental Archeology, Interpretation-Education and Open-Air Museum. Up until today, the first and only institution making studies on these themes all across Cyprus, has been the Catalkoy Municipality. For this reason, activities here are being recognized and supported by the Exchange on Archeological Research and Communication (EXARC).

Had to be delayed for three years because of the pandemic, the IVth International Vounous Terra-Cotta Symposium has continued from where it’s left between 8th-17th September 2022 and successfully completed with the participation of 64 academician artists from Cyprus and abroad as well as those set their hearts on ceramic art.

There were seven academic papers presented in the symposium and alongside ceramic production, there were also bronze melting and casting processes have been performed. Visited by hundreds of locals and foreigns, the works and studies exhibited in the Vounous symposium grounds have been viewed with a great attention and admiration.

During Prof. Dr. Sevim Cizer’s “Terra Sigillata” presentation, the successful two examples of the trials made on three sample earths taken from various regions of Cyprus, was one of the studies that left its’ mark on the symposium. After the scientific studies made on the Cyprus Terra Sigillata for the first time, a quite glossy Sigillata primer has been obtained as a result of the firings made by Rauf Ersenal. Alongside these studies, the pottery produced with the clay samples taken from the Vounous region, have been fired with rather primitive methods just like the conditions of that era and the obtained results have been shared with the participants.

Organized by the Catalkoy Municipality in order to regain the works belonging to Vounous but taken away abroad, to this region though symbolically, ensure Vounous saved from being forgotten and destroyed and create an awareness on this, the fifth of the Terra-Cotta Symposium will be brought into life in September 2023 by the Vounous Project Head Rauf Ersenal and his team.


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