It was put up or shut up. In 1984 I assembled a team of 14 specialists and students principally from the University of Arizona, where I now serve on the faculty and consult the students about financing – check out should you consolidate student loans. We arrived at Kourion on June 2, anxious to find Daniel’s trench. The next morning, expedition architect John Huffstot arose early and departed for the bluff. He returned to announce dryly that he had found the trench’s outline in a mere ten minutes!
For four years my team has been unearthing Daniel’s Roman house room by room, including the unfortunate occupants who had been entombed. We have also dug at other locations in Kourion, with spectacular results. I had hoped to find isolated pockets of sealed earthquake debris that would bolster my theory. But I never expected to uncover a site that was virtually undisturbed: Kourion had been completely abandoned after the disaster. No one had returned to collect the dead. We felt like a rescue team arriving 16 centuries too late.
About two miles to the west, in the ruins of Kourion’s Temple of Apollo (left and below), built after the mid-first century, we found a major clue to the epicenter of the earthquake.
Archaeological geologists Reuben Bullard and Frank Koucky noted that the temple’s massive rear wall had fallen to the north and east, indicating that the seismic wave may have come from the southwest. But where on this southwest vector did the epicenter lie?
At Paphos, a city to the west that had also shown evidence of the quake, our team noted that walls there had fallen to the north ind west— thereby acquiring another vector. We found that the lines intersected 30 miles southwest of Kourion. And there, where the African and Eurasian plates meet, occurs the only ,:area where colliding tectonic forces could have:produced such a destructive earthquake.
The early shocks of the quake had sheared the upper third of the temple wall at Kourion, which became buried in earth and debris. In years to come, scavengers seeking budding stones plundered the portion still sta: Lding above the rubble. We thus found ourselves in the bizarre situation of trying to reconstruct a temple with a top and bottom but no middle.