Archaeology Odyssey 2:2, May/June 1999

Destinations: Kourion, Cyprus

Destroyed by an earthquake in the fourthcentury A.D., the ancient city rises again.

By Julie Skurdenis

Archaeology Odyssey

Cyprus has long been associated with Aphrodite, the Greek goddess of love. Legend has it that she was born of the sea foam and then swept ashore—at a site called Petra tou Romiou, 13 miles east of the ancient city of Paphos on Cyprus’s southern coast.

Another 15 miles east, along the scenic littoral, a bluff rises abruptly from the sea. This is Kourion, a magnificent, well-preserved city whose history stretches back 3,000 years.

Cyprus was probably first settled by mainland Greeks in the 13th and 12th centuries B.C. It fell to the Assyrians in the seventh century B.C., the Persians in the sixth century B.C., and then the Ptolemies of Egypt, who ruled the island from the fourth to the first century B.C. In 58 B.C. it became a province of Rome. Julius Caesar and Mark Antony both presented Cyprus as a gift to Cleopatra. The queen enjoyed her present only briefly: In 30 B.C., Cyprus reverted to the Romans, who controlled it for over 300 years.

Kourion flourished under its various overlords until Arab raids, in the mid-seventh century A.D., obliterated the site.

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