A large island located in the angle between Anatolia to the north, and the Levant to the east, Cyprus has always had an important place in eastern Mediterranean culture. To the early Hellenes, it was the birthplace of Aphrodite - to ancient Semitic peoples it was the land of Kittim. The island as a whole is mountainous and fairly rugged, and the ecosystem is fragile - there are, for example, no running rivers, although dry channels provide torrential runoff during rainfall. Inportant both as a major source of copper, and as a strategic jump-off point to the Near East, the place has seen virtually every conqueror, colonizer, and explorer to have been involved in the Middle East, and it continues to this day to be a source of drama and tension. See the Controversy file for details.

Contains: Alasiya, Amathus, Cyprus (general survey), Idalion, Kittim, Kourion, Lapithos, Marion, Nea Paphos, Paleapaphos, Salamis, Soloi, and Tamassos.

CYPRUS A general survey of the island as a whole.

Local Cypriot states

ALASIYA (Enkomi) City in eastern Cyprus, near modern Famagusta. There is evidence that in ancient times Alasiya dominated the entire island. It was a prosperous port, protected by massive stone walls, and the rich lived in houses of hewn stone.

AMATHUSA city on the south coast of the island, located near present-day Limassol. There was an important temple to Aphrodite here.

IDALION Located in the interior, and still existing as the small town of Dali. The ancient city was one of the most important cities of the ancient Levant. Established by the 12th century BCE, it reached its period of greatest influence in the 7th and 6th centuries BCE. It was a mercantile center specializing in the Cypriote copper trade, and was a focus of the cult of Cybele and Her consort Atys.

KITTIM (Greek Kition, Latin Citium)An ancient city in southeastern Cyprus, adjacent to modern Larnaca. It was a Phoenician stronghold for many centuries, and its Phoenician name appears in the Christian Bible as a name for the island as a whole. The city suffered heavily during late classical times and, when the harbour began silting up, the population eventually abandoned the place to settle in Larnaca in the early Middle Ages.

KOURION An ancient city on Cyprus, a port on the south coast.

LAPITHOS Nowadays a small town on the north coast of the island, about 20 miles (33 km.) northwest of Nicosia.

MARION Located at the northwestern corner of the island, about where the modern port of Polis now stands.

NEA PAPHOSA port on the southwestern corner of the island, now called simply Paphos. Established as a port for Old Paphos, it superceded the old city in influence, becoming the administrative capital of the island in Ptolemaic and Roman times. Sacked by Arab pirates in 960, it survived, though reduced in importance.

PALEAPAPHOS The original establishment of Paphos, a city in the southwest corner of the island. In ancient times it was a very influential city, second only to Salamis on the island, and famed throughout the Hellenic world as the location of the birth of Aphrodite from a clot of sea-foam. There was a major temple to the Goddess here. After the conquest of the city by Ptolemaic forces at the beginning of the 3rd century BCE, it waned in fortunes, and was deserted by the 4th century CE.

SALAMISJust north of modern Famagusta, on the east coast of Cyprus. The largest city of ancient Cyprus, and the site of a petty Kingdom. Sacked by the Arabs around 648, it was never rebuilt.

SOLOI Located in northwestern Cyprus, roughly where the modern town of Morphou now stands.

TAMASSOS Located about 12 miles (20 km.) southwest of Nicosia, Tamassos was known from Homeric times as an important production center for copper smelting. Recent archeological diggings have uncovered some magnificent sphinxes associated with royal tombs there.