Archaeology Odyssey 5:6, November/December 2002

The Guardians of Tamassos

Rescuing Cyprus’s 2,500-year-old sphinxes and lions

By Marina Solomidou-Ieronymidou

On a cold and rainy morning in January 1997, I received a phone call from Orthodoxos Liasides, the foreman of a maintenance crew working on the monumental tombs of Tamassos, 15 miles southwest of Nicosia. The men were insulating the tombs from the destructive effects of dampness in the soil, and they were digging a trench from which they would apply the protective coating.

“Mrs. Marina, you need to come to Tamassos. I think we have found two statues,” he said. “Stop work immediately,” I told him. “Just wait for us. We’ll be there soon.”

We arrived at the site by 10:30 a.m. The workmen had already covered the area with a plastic cloth to protect it from the rain. In the trench was the large head of a lion. Next to it was what appeared to be the back of an animal with a tail. This proved to be another lion, even bigger than the first, but broken into four parts.

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