Kalavasos-Tenta is a Neolithic settlement in Cyprus, four kilometres from Kalavasos in the Larnaca District, and is one of Cyprus’ most significant Neolithic settlements. The ruins at Kalavasos-Tenta include the remains of the winding walls of what were the circular huts of the village.
Kalavasos-Tenta was built during the New Stone Age, dating from 7000 BC on a natural hill. Pre-pottery agriculturalist settlers came to Cyprus between 8000-8600 BC, building round houses with floors of terrazzo of burned lime. Their economy was based on sheep, goats and pigs; their daily lives spent farming, hunting, animal husbandry, while homesteaders wove cloth.
The round walls of Kalavasos-Tenta were built with mudbrick, and built together to form some form of complex surrounded by a stone defensive wall. The site was abandoned in the 6th century BC.
The name of the site refers back to 327 AD when Saint Helena, mother of Constantine I the Roman Emperor first to convert to Christianity, stayed in a tene or ‘tenta’ in the location. Helena’s visit to Cyprus came after the discovery of the Holy Cross in Jerusalem.
Discovered in 1947, Kalavasos-Tenta was excavated by a team from Brandeis University from 1976-1984 under the leadership of Ian Todd. These excavations continued throughout the summers, and were funded by the National Science Foundation in America.
During excavations, a painted red figure with raised hands was found on an internal wall dating to the early 7th century BC, Cyprus’ earliest wall painting. Fourteen human graves were also found containing eighteen people, under the floors of the buildings and in open areas outside. Only a red marble was found in the graves alongside the remains.
Kalavasos-Tenta is covered by a cone-shaped roof, constructed in 1995, which forms a distinctive part of the Cypriot architectural landscape today. Underneath the large tended roof, there is a wooden walkway that allows you to view the top of the ruins. There are a few very informative boards along the walk around the site, with plans detailing the ruin’s original shape and function.
You can view the site for €2.50, but be aware the site is not open at weekends.
Getting to Kalavasos-Tenta
Kalavasos-Tenta is located just off the A1, on the main road from Paphos to Limassol, and is accessible via a 50 minute drive from the capital, Nicosia. There is parking on-site opposite the ticket office.