Cyprus Archaeology
the islands past

 Kourion Ancient City

Kourion Ancient City

The large and sacred complex of the sanctuary of Apollo Hylates lies to the west of the main Kourion site. Apollo was the god worshipped here in pre-Christian times as protector of the city and surrounding woodlands. Most buildings date from the Roman period, flattened in the earthquake of 365, and since partly restored.

Dating from Neolithic times, Kourion was an important town in the Roman, and Byzantine periods, but was abandoned after Arab raids in the seventh century. The main site is the theatre, which is still used for Shakespearean plays in the summer. Of just as much interest are the mosaics in the baths nearby, and further along the road the Basilica, Baptistry and more open-air mosaics


The Medieval castle of occupied Kyrenia

With a recognised 9000 years old history, Cyprus is a treasure house for the student of archaeology. The people say “scratch the soil anywhere and you will find traces of the island’s ancient civilisations”!

Each year new excavations are undertaken by local and international archaeologists, bringing to light new finds and increasing our knowledge about the Neolithic Period (7000 BC) which developed along the north and south coasts.

Kolossi CastleDuring the Chalcolithic Age, the transitional period between the Stone and Bronze Age, people seemed to settle in the west of Cyprus. In the Bronze Age we see waves of Achaean Greeks arriving to settle, spreading the Greek language, religion and culture.

In the 8th century Cyprus became a Greek island of 10 city kingdoms, the cult of the goddess Aphrodite flourished and times ere prosperous. During the Archaic and Classical Period the island fell to more than one band of conquerors. Assyria, Egypt and Persia sent Invaders. Then King Evagoras of Salamis unified the land. Later Alexander the Great was welcomed by the island's city-kingdoms and Cyprus became part of his empire.

In the Hellenistic Period Cyprus was ruled by the Ptolomies of Egypt, coming under Greek Alexandrine rule. Now the Romans arrived and the proconsul Sergius Paulus is converted to Christianity, Cyprus being the first country ruled by a Christian! Tremendous earthquakes occurred during the 1st century BC and the 1st century AD.

At the division of the roman Empire, Cyprus came under the influence of the Eastern Roman Empire known as Byzantium which had Constantinople as its capital. In 1192 Richard the Lionheart took possession of the island after the ruler acted discourteously to survivors of one wrecked ship of the Third Crusade but he soon sold Cyprus for 100,000 dinars… to the Knights Templars!

*Further information on the history of Cyprus can be had from CTI (Cyprus Tourist Information) offices, found in all principal towns.