Thus far, two main periods of occupation have been identified: Chalcolithic (3100 B.C.) and late Hellenistic, precisely during the reigns of Cleopatra and her predecessor Ptolemy XII (80-30 B.C.), when Cyprus was govered by Egyptian control. Chalcolithic remains suggest that the Yeronisos served as an important fishing post during its earliest period of activity. Red lustrous wares, rubbing stones, querns and other tools, a variety of cherts and masses of shells give evidence of large scale fishing activity. During the Hellenistic period, Yeronisos seems to have served as the setting for a major sanctuary. The Ptolemaic Egyptian character of the Hellenistic finds (pot sherds with writing in cursive Greek script, coins, seals, wine jugs, glass, and the use of Ptolemaic measuring units for foundation blocks) show Yeronisos to be one of the best preserved Ptolemaic sites to survive outside of Egypt.

The large gap in inhabitation (3000 B.C.-80 B.C.) was probably due to lack of a water source, a problem alleviated in late Hellenistic times by the building of a cistern fed by a paved and waterproofed collecting basin at the eastern end of the island. The cistern's form and construction are unattested in Greek architecture; instead, they are of a type known from Ptolemaic structures in the western desert of Egypt.The impressive complex comprises 107 paving slabs, all pre-cut to form a vast semi-circular basin.

Impressive architectural remains suggest that Yeronisos was the site of a major public building with tiled roof: Doric cornice blocks, egg and dart mouldings, an engaged Ionic half column and an sensitively carved lion's head spout have been recovered from the surface and down the slopes along the island's western cliffs. These most likely adorned a temple, much of which has collapsed into the sea along with the western precipice. The discovery of an inscription to Apollo during the 1994 season suggests that this temple may have belonged to the god Apollo. Excavation of this rich complex is critical, as it sits precariously upon the western cliff face, which continues to suffer from collapse each year

The current working hypothesis is that Yeronisos was the site of an island sanctuary of Apollo, a god who was born and worshipped on another island, that of Delos in the Greek Mediterranean. One day's walk from Paphos, Yeronisos would have been the destination for pilgrims who left the urban setting for the quiet beauty of the rural sanctuary. There they would pray, offer sacrifice and spend some time in tranquil contemplation, which included, no doubt, the opportunity for fishing and soaking up some sea, sun and scenery as well. We have uncovered what seem to be pilgrimage facilities on the island, including accommodations, kitchens and hydraulic systems as well as remains of the temple, the seat of Apollos's worship. Yeronisos thus provides a unique opportunity for the exploration of religious, domestic and hydraulic complexes within a relatively small and well-defined space. Although much work needs to be done in order to understand the ancient function of the island, it seems likely that the modern name Yeronisos may reflect the ancient name "Hieronissos" or "Sacred Island."

Pagans &
Field Report