Cyprus Ancient History

Cyprus Ancient History

No traces of Paleolithic industry have yet been reported on the island, and there are also rare remains of the Neolithic age (sporadic objects found in the Curio region). Whether some megalithic monuments reminiscent of menhirs and dolmens should be ascribed to this age or to subsequent ones is uncertain. The first arise near Palaeopaphus, and two dolmenic buildings are near Larnaka and near Salamis, the first reduced to the tomb of a Muslim holy woman (Hale Sultan Tekké) and the other to a Christian church (‛Αγία Αἰκαϑρίνη; cf. Hogart, Devia Cypria, p. 46).

The use of copper undoubtedly had to bring prosperity and importance to Cyprus and an increase in population and commercial relations with the great neighboring states of the Nile valley and Mesopotamia. However, these inductions have not so far received confirmation of any importance from archaeological finds. In any case, documents in the inscriptions of Thutmosis III, in the tablets of Tell el-‛Amārna and on the inscriptions of Ramses III in the temple of Medinet Habu between the XVIII and the XX dynasty remain of the relations with Egypt and Mesopotamia. For Cyprus history, please check

Contemporary or slightly later may be the burial grounds with late Mycenaean material found in several places, especially at Enkomi near Salamis, which demonstrate the island reached by that aspect and that form of civilization that dominated the Aegean at the end of the second millennium and at the beginning of the first a. Cyprus

But the conformation of the island open more towards the east than towards the north or west, meant that it lived more in the Syriac-Phoenician orbit. Not only does the absence of Cyprus from the Hellenic horizon as well as the Iliad as well as the Odyssey prove this, but the existence of important Phoenician centers in historical times and the vassalage of the island’s sovereigns towards Sargon king of Assyria, to whom an honorary stele with a cuneiform image and inscription was raised to Citium (it is now in the Berlin Museum). From this first somewhat eloquent document of the island’s history, we learn that the territory was divided into several city-states, each of which presided over by a ruler (Schrader, Die Sargonstele, in Abhandl. Der Berl.. 1881). Thus Homeric form, if we may say so, of social order which in Cyprus however remains, while in Greece it soon disappears. We do not know if the tradition of the nine kingdoms into which the island was divided refers to this period, a tradition reported as a remote thing with a quondam by Latin writers (Pliny, Nat. Hist., V, 129; Mela, II, 102). These sovereigns have names that are not Hellenic, but Semitic, a sign that Phoenician expansion is preponderant for this age. Sargon’s successor kings, Assarhaddon and Ashurbanipal also count the kings of Cyprus among their tributaries (Ménant, Annales des rois d’Assyrie, p. 208-249; Halévy, in Revue des études Juives, 1881). Then when towards the end of the century. VII and the principles of the sixth the Saiti Pharaohs of the XXVI dynasty return the ancient Egyptian power with arms, the Pharaoh Amasi conquers Cyprus. For a short time, however, because a new great empire was forming on the ruins of Babylon, that of the Persians by Cyrus. The successor of Cyrus, Cambyses, defeated in the great battle of Pelusio (525 BC) the successor of Amasi, Psammetichus III, and Cyprus like all Egypt passed in subjection to the great king of Persia. The cities kept their sovereigns, some of which now bear Phoenician names, other Greek names, since here too as throughout the Aegean the Hellenic expansion has progressed, rejecting the Phoenician one. And the Hellenic sentiments of at least part of the islanders proved themselves, when they joined in 497 the insurrection of the Greek cities of Ionia against the Persians (Herod., V, 104). Of course, if the cause of the Greek colonists of Asia Minor was not even embraced by all the Greeks of the continent, much less could it hope for full membership in Cyprus, still half Phoenician and with too many interests connected to the great neighboring empire. So that the anti-Persian movement of Cyprus ended soon, and indeed numerous Cypriot ships commanded by sovereigns with Greek names, are in the fleet assembled by Xerxes against Athens and Sparta. Nor did the Panhellenic idea, which grew to sudden heights due to the common danger and the common glory of the Persian wars, have too wide a resonance in Cyprus, even when the Greek ships with Cimon carried the victorious war on the southern shores of the Anatolia (battle of Eurimedonte) and up to the very coasts of the island (Cimon died besieging Citium). A fervent supporter of Hellenism was, later, Evagora who expelled Phoenician usurpers from Citium from the city of Salamis, and had the lordship of the city already held by his ancestors. He welcomed the Athenian fleet of Conone in Salamis after the disaster of Egospotami (405) and took part in the battle of Cnidus (394). This activity earned him a panegyric of Isocrates, but he left him after the peace of Antalcida (386) exposed to the wrath of the king of Persia, who sent troops against him. The strenuous resistance of the city of Salamis to the besiegers led to a peace, for which Evagoras remained lord of the city, paying tribute to the king (380).

The triumphal march of Alexander the Great reduced Cyprus to the full Hellenic world. Disputed between Antigonus and Demetrius on one side and Ptolemy Soter on the other, it ended, in 295, after some brief Seleucid occupation, by remaining in the kingdom of Egypt. Thus the last Phoenician traces disappeared, including the sovereigns who still knew a little of the Levant, and who for the usual quarrels between them had partly given themselves to Antigonus or the Seleucids, and he entrusted the island to a high official (στρατηγός or also στρατηγὸς καὶ ναύαρχος καὶ ἀρχιερεὺς τῶν κατὰ Κὺπρον). Sometimes the governor of Cyprus was a relative of the Ptolemies and almost had the dignity of sovereign.

Cyprus was the last of the extensive foreign possessions of the Ptolemies that broke away from Egypt. In the year 58 a. Cyprus una lex Clodia, prepared by the turbulent tribune Publius Clodius, commissioned Cato minor to annex the island of Cyprus. In this way, several results were obtained: the island was punished for the help given to the pirates, little Ptolemy, brother of Ptolemy Aulete, governor of the island, who had personally offended Clodius, was punished, Cato went away from Rome who annoyed the commander and also at the spring fortune of Julius Caesar, and a beautiful treasure was confiscated, which the honest Cato would have brought back intact to the treasury of Saturn. Not even an army was needed, such was the prostration of the Ptolemaic state; Ptolemy killed himself, and the island was annexed to the province of Cilicia. Caesar and later Antony returned Cyprus to Cleopatra, a restitution that was canceled by the victory of Actium. Reunited from the beginning again to Cilicia, it was then from 22 to. Cyprus made a province in itself and assigned to the senate which governed it with a proconsul of praetorian rank. Instead of the nine city-states, Pliny recalls fifteen municipalities (Nat. Hist., V, 130) which met in a Κοινόν, which was allowed to mint coins. The most serious event in its history during the Empire was the furious insurrection of the Jews, numerous on the island during the last years of Trajan, when the Jews of Cyrenaica and Egypt also rebelled. The struggle took on the oriental character of a general massacre which in the first triumph of surprise would have led to the killing of 240,000 between Greeks and Romans. The Roman repression was as severe in Cyprus as in Egypt and Cyrene.

A further insurrection was that of a certain Calocero magister camelorum of the year 334, quickly subdued by Constantine, and ended with the crucifixion of the pretender.

Cyprus remained united with the Eastern Roman Empire until the spread of the Islamic conquest, when it was occupied by Mu‛āwiyah, lieutenant of the caliph ‛Othmān and then repeatedly taken and taken over by the Byzantines and Muslims.

The most important cities of the island during the ancient age were mostly on the coasts and precisely Lapeto, Soli, Marion, Paphos, Curio, Amatunte, Cizio, Salamina. Inside Leucosia, Chitri, Tamasso, Idalion. Those in which the Phoenician element was best and longest established are the cities of the southern coast: Paphos, Curio, Amatunte and especially Citium.

Particularly celebrated of the cults of Cyprus was that of Aphrodite in Paphos with temple, oracle, priestly college of great authority. Pausanias himself thinks that the cult was brought to Paphos by the Assyrians, therefore suggests those attacks with the Astarte of Mesopotamia, which many have seen in the religion of Aphrodite (on the spread of Christianity in Cyprus, see below).

Cyprus Ancient History