23 February, 2019
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Paphos mosaics cleaning method raises eyebrows

Antiquities department says using metal shovel on Cypriot ancient floor not okay


A rather unusual photograph is doing the rounds on social media in Cyprus, showing a cleaning lady using a broom and a shovel to clean ancient mosaics at the Paphos Archaeological Park.

The image was posted Wednesday by a local personality of the arts, Andreas Efstathiou, who wrote on Facebook that a cleaning lady, without a care in the world, was using a metal dustpan with a handle and a broom to clean world-famous mosaics, which are part of a huge cultural heritage in Cyprus.

“At this rate, if it continues to go on like this through the summer, Paphians will be scrambling to find mosaics to show to the world”

The image shows an unidentified lady from the waist down, stepping on the ancient mosaic floor with her regular shoes, and proceeding to clean the floor.

While Efstathiou said in his comment that she was not at fault, he pointed out with irony and humour that archaeologists on staff appear to know better what is the best way to clean ancient mosaics. 

“At this rate, if it continues to go on like this through the summer, Paphians will be scrambling to find mosaics to show to the world,” he wrote in his comment.

Antiquities Department responds

But Marina Solomidou-Ieronymidou, the Director of the Antiquities Department, told online daily Kathimerini that the specific cleaning lady in the photo should have been using a different set of tools, including a plastic dustpan.

“It is unfortunate that while so much hard work is being done for the mosaics, a false move by one employee gives a very wrong impression,” the director said.

Still no protective shelter

The image serves as a reminder that things are not ideal at the archeological park, as last month local officials were mounting a publicity campaign to demand action on a 20-year-long and protracted battle to build protective shelters for these unique works of art.

The construction of a permanent shelter has been a topic of discussion for two decades, and it was recently back in the news following the nearing of completion of a pedestrian walkway bridge.

But the issue of placing shelters in order to protect mosaics from the elements, including rain, humidity, temperature and sunlight, has been raised numerous times at all bureaucratic levels. The matter is still unresolved. 

The Paphos mosaics, discovered accidently by a local farmer in 1962, are considered among the finest in the eastern Mediterranean and are listed in the UNESCO World Heritage Sites. They include ancient mosaic floors depicting various scenes from Greek mythology.


Cyprus  |  mosaics  |  Paphos

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