UCL History Middle East Travel Fund supports PhD research trip to Cyprus

19 July 2019

We spoke to PhD student Beatrice Pestarino about her recent research trip to Cyprus, which was funded by the Middle East Travel Fund.

cyprus research trip

Tell us a little bit about your PhD and research topic?

My research aims to reconstruct the political-administrative system of the Cypriot city-kingdoms during the classical period. It is mainly based on the analysis of inscriptions written in different languages: Cypriot Greek and a local language called ‘Eteocypriot’, written with a peculiar syllabary developed on the island, Greek and Phoenician. Most of them are epitaphs or decrees which concern magistrates, members of local elites, who played significant roles in the city-states. I compare the data obtained from these inscriptions with information coming from literary sources and archaeological reports.

Why did you decide to research this topic?

My interest in Cyprus is long-standing. During my MA I in Pisa, I took part in an archaeological excavation in Cilicia, in Turkey. This experience increased my interest in the ‘periphery’ of the Greek world. Following the suggestion of my MA supervisor, I started to read about ancient Cyprus. The island showed such an overlap of different cultures which immediately fascinated me. This laid the foundations of my MA dissertation which concerned multilingualism and multiculturalism in Cyprus during the archaic and classical periods. When I was writing my MA dissertation, I realised that a complete study on the political-administrative system of the Cypriot-states was lacking and I thought that it would have been a good topic for a PHD research.

Why was your trip to Cyrpus so important for this topic and what will the impact be on your research?

My trip to Cyprus has been fundamental to complete my PhD thesis. On the island, I saw in person several inscriptions that I had previously studied in books and epigraphic corpora; this allowed me to confirm or change my own interpretation of these texts which are the base of my research. Thanks to the kind permission of the ‘Department of Antiquities of Cyprus’, I studied and pictured these inscriptions in museums which currently are not open to the public. The staff of the museums of Paphos, Kouklia and Kition, who have prepared part of the material I was looking for in advance, warmly welcomed me. I have also visited several archaeological sites all over the island and conducted a small survey looking for the hypogeum sanctuary of Apollo Hyliates and for the Hellenikà Necropolis in Paphos. This gave me the opportunity to better understand the geographical location of the city-states clarifying which resources were related to their territories – such as copper mines or woods. It helped to have a deeper meaning of their communication ways – internal routs and harbours – and of the political and economic relationships among them. These data must be taken into account also when interpreting the content of the inscriptions which may not prescind their geographical context and place of discovery.

How did the UCL PGR Research Fund support your trip?

Thanks to the Middle East Travel Grant, I have been able to fly to Cyprus and to conduct my research there. I used the grant to pay for the flight tickets, for part of the accommodation, for renting a car, for the rental car insurance and for the fuel. The UCL History department also contributed with a research grant to pay for other smaller expenses along with the Royal Historical Society.

Looking forward, what are the next steps for your research?

I am looking to conclude a chapter I am working on which is about the administration of the harbour and the territory of the city-states. Thanks to the information I obtained during my research trip, I have confirmed my own interpretation of some inscriptions and I hope to write the general conclusions of my thesis by November/December. Looking forward, I would like to pursue my career in academia, possibly continuing to study the political-administrative history of ancient Cyprus.



cyprus research trip


Pictures are taken and published with the kind permission of the department of antiquities of Cyprus.