archaeological sites

It has been said that if you “scratch the soil anywhere in Cyprus you will find traces of the islands civilizations.” To prove the point, look at an archeological map, and you’ll see that Cyprus is studded with sites from every period of its turbulent history, going back to the Neolithic Age. A visit to Choirokoitia, near Larnaca proves the point. There you’ll find excavations that reveal the whole society of a Neolithic settlement dating from 7000 BC: defensive walls, circular houses, and tombs.

ruinsflattenedOne of the most fascinating aspects of archaeology in Cyprus is the gradual unearthing of the ten “city kingdoms” that were established in the Geometric Period (1050-325 BC). 19 km’s west of Limassol, you’ll find Kourion, one of the most spectacular sites on the island. The magnificent Greco-Roman Theatre was designed in the 2nd century BC. The site is rich in archeological lore, including a private Roman villa, an Early Christian Basilica, and the houses of Achilles and the Gladiators, which have fine mosaic floors.

kourion_ampitheatreAnother nine City Kingdoms are to be found in different parts of the island, including Idalion near Nicosia where legend has it that Adonis, the lover of Aphrodite, was killed by a wild boar sent by her jealous husband, Kition near Larnaca with its cyclopean walls and a five-temple complex, and 11 km’s from Limassol, the city Kingdom of Amathous where it is said that Theseus left the pregnant Ariadne after his battle with the Minotaur.

kourion_apollo250Teams of archeologists are constantly working on new excavations that uncover not only Neolithic remains, but those from The Bronze Age, and the Roman and Byzantine periods. A good example can be found near Pafos — the famous underground Tombs of the Kings, some complete with Doric columns, which date back to the fourth century BC.

In addition to a wealth of outdoor sites, many artifacts are attractively displayed in museums, such as The Cyprus Museum, in Nicosia — itself one of the oldest cities in the world. There you can see domestic objects dating almost from the dawn of time, including stone vessels and pottery, and evidence of the islands warlike past — fine examples of weaponry and hunting paraphernalia.