Yeronisos Island Expedition

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Megaw House

A small stone structure stands upon the crest of the Agios Georgios-tis-Peyias acropolis overlooking the sea.  It is one of several stone “pilgrimage” houses that seem to have been organized for the church at Agios Georgios during the late 1920’s and in the decades that followed.  In the early 1950’s, the accommodation was used by A.H.S. “Peter” Megaw and his wife, Electra, who lived in the southernmost room, and by two members of the Meteorological Station who occupied the northernmost room.  Peter and Electra were busy with excavations in the three early Byzantine basilicas of Agios Georgios from 1950-53.  Up the hill from their small dwelling place, Peter built an outhouse of reused ashlar blocks, situated atop an ancient cistern.  It stands to this day as a ruin, just at the high point of acropolis.

In the years that followed, the two-room structure was used by local fishermen for storage of nets and other equipment.  In 1992, Peyian fishermen George Tsefoutis and Savvas Spathias generously vacated the house, so that the Yeronisos Island Expedition could use it as a field station and storeroom.  Our annual dig party was held just in front of the stone structure from 1992 on, with Peter and Electra Megaw regularly in attendance until Electra’s death, just a few days following the dig party of 1994.

In 1995, the Bishop of Paphos, now His Beatitude Chrysostomos II, Archbishop of Nova Justiniana and All Cyprus, kindly gave permission to the Yeronisos Island Expedition for the construction of an apotheke (store room facility) on an adjoining piece of land.  Renovation of the stone house and the building of the new storage facility began in the spring of 1996 and was completed in the spring of 1997.  New York University and the Friends of Yeronisos generously contributed to the financing of its construction. 

On June 7, 1997, the Yeronisos Island Expedition Field Station at Agios Georgios-tis-Peyias was dedicated and named “Megaw House” in honor of Peter and Electra Megaw.  The Bishop of Arsinoe officiated over the agiasmos (blessing) of the facility.  Peter Megaw gave a memorable speech on the history of his excavations at Agios Georgios.  Director of Antiquities of Cyprus and first excavator of Yeronisos, Dr. Sophocles Hadjisavvas spoke, as did Joan Breton Connelly and Henry Maguire.  The

American Ambassador and British High Commissioner attended along with members of the New York University administration, the NYU Department of Fine Arts, and the Yeronisos Island Expedition team.  Some 150 members of the local community attended, including the President of Peyia and Mayor of Paphos, the local clergy from Paphos and the Agios Neophytos Monastery, as well as many visitors from Nicosia, including members of the Department of Antiquities of Cyprus, the diplomatic corps, journalists, and friends.

Megaw House has provided a beautiful setting for our work over many seasons of excavation and study.  Afternoon seminars, pottery washing, architectural drafting and the drawing of objects, database entry, conservation, reading, study, photography, and other activities are undertaken here throughout the dig season.  The facility also serves as the location for excavation dinners and parties, complete with its dance floor and staging area for musical performances.

On June 7, 2004, the thirty-piece Cyprus Police Philharmonic Orchestra performed at Megaw House to the delight of our local community and visitors from Nicosia and abroad.  This marked our final party at which Peter Megaw was present and we celebrated an “early” birthday for him on that evening.  He was surrounded and serenaded by his beloved friends, Cypriots, English, Irish, and Americans alike.

Sunday, June 13, 2010, marked the celebration of the Twentieth Anniversary of the NYU Yeronisos Island Excavations.  Once again, friends gathered from near and far to sing, dance, eat, and enjoy the good company of the Yeronisos Island Expedition family.  Fishermen, shepherds, clergy, diplomats, archaeologists, students, journalists, artists, and writers gathered under the vines and beside the cliffs overlooking the sea.  Our favorite dancer from Peyia, ten-year-old Andreas Kouvaros, led the Yeronisos students in a dance and played bouzouki.

Today, an olive tree planted in memory of Peter Megaw grows at the entranceway of the Yeronisos Field Station, welcoming all those who come to enjoy the work, comradery, and fun of Megaw House.