Meet Doctor Flourentzos — a prominent Cypriot archaeologist, famous scientist and writer.
I am an archaeologist by profession, but also a writer and scientist. I have written 20 books and close to 100 scientific articles, mainly in English, with several publications in Greek. In addition, I played a part in the publication of the book — “Cyprus Heritage”, which included a translation into Russian. Now I am retired, but I worked for a long time (38 years) in the Department of Antiquities of the Republic of Cyprus. I started there from the very “bottom” and eventually “rose” to the position of director, which I held for 5 years, and then curator (where I was in office for 10 years).
I am a native of Famagousta, of the Varosha region to be more exact, which until 1974 was the centre of tourism in Cyprus and one of the most popular destinations for travellers all over the world; but nowadays it’s a ghost town.
From my very childhood I was interested in history, often visiting old Famagousta. Incidentally, those years of my life mainly flowed by in the historical centre, where one could observe the typical lifestyle of Greek-Cyrpiots.
I also often went to Salamis: in years gone by, many of Famagousta’s residents loved to go there. Thus all of this, as well as my student years in Prague (where I first received a master’s degree and then a PhD in Philosophy, — urged me from that point onwards to pursue scientific research, having determined my future career. Furthermore, having graduated from my university in the Czech Republic, I soon received a fellowship to study museums and museum affairs in Great Britain and the USA.
As you well know, Cyprus is simply full of antiquities. The most thrilling moment for any researcher is the discovery of an ancient relic, especially in a place where you never suspected to find one! I cannot recall any amusing cases during my work, but there were those that stuck in your memory for a long while… For instance, how we were once working on a very dangerous and complex site (if I’m honest: If it were today, I wouldn’t even set foot there).
Or another case, when our archaeological expedition discovered an unspoiled coffin not far from Limassol (it was a great rarity in those days). We were able to find close to a 100 artefacts, which needed to be removed and taken for further examination. An odd situation unexpectedly emerged: though a unique discovery had been made and we had the appropriate transport, loading all of these findings onto that transport proved to be a very complicated task. I shall never forget how my assistant, who had grown up in a mountainous region, managed to hoist 60 baskets of artefacts onto his back and then while maintaining his balance, began to descend with them to the car awaiting us. It was simply unbelievable!
Aside from my main scientific activity, I have many hobbies. I love music and the theatre (preferably classical). Since I retired, I’ve become very keen on gardening: working in the garden with plants and taking care of them is an inspiration to me and a tremendous way to relax! The nature of my work meant that I travelled a lot and visited a number of countries: mainly Europe and the USA, as well as Canada and China. I’d still like to go to Japan — a country with a marvellous culture, and the countries of South America.
Paris is among my favourite places due to its urban ambiance and mood. Surely, you understand what I mean? I also love Constantinople: history is alive here and whenever I go, I find something I cannot anywhere else. Nonetheless, I am also very fond of Cyprus and there are three compelling “reasons” for this: firstly, our warm and gentle sea which bathes the island. It’s easy to reach from anywhere and is safe in comparison to other destinations… I also love it because this is the place where I came into being — in a seaside town. The sea is relaxing and always rescues me from any troubles.
Secondly, the excellent food. I’m sure you’ll agree, the mediterranean cuisine in Cyprus is to everyone’s taste! Finally, the simplicity of life here (mainly thanks to small travel distances) means it’s impossible not to be drawn in by the island.
My advice in a nutshell to tourists and local residents: get to know Cyprus and enjoy it! Though the island is still burdened with an air of division… I love Cyprus and enjoy living here! I’ve realised: I’ll never feel as much at home as I do in my own country.