ANCIENT KINGDOMS: Cyprus, an island with a past

images (2)Today I visited the past. In any other country, that might have meant going back a hundred, possibly even a thousand years. In visiting Ancient Idalion, I went back over five thousand.

Oh yes, while my ancestral countrymen were probably still wondering if they could eat stones, civilisation was flourishing in Cyprus. And nowhere more so than in the city kingdom of Idalion. For over two millennia, what is now Dali hosted a huge, peaceful civilisation, based on the copper trade. These people were smart – they had beautiful houses, glorious palaces, paved streets and stunning temples; they smelted copper, pressed olives, worked cloth and fired huge pithario on an industrial scale; there were accomplished tradesmen, blacksmiths, stonemasons and even doctors. And they were peaceful: even managing to withstand the might of the foreign armies – there’s a bronze tablet in the local museum (visit museum site here) that dates back to 480 BC with an inscription that awards land to “Dr Onasilios for services to the wounded in the unsuccessful siege by the Persians and Phoenicians of Kition, from the King and people of Idalion”. As part of the burgeoning of civilisation in the fertile crescent, they traded with the near East and the Aegean, Anatolia and Egypt.

In the ancient world, Cyprus was the idyllic island where East met West in peace. Isn’t that still the case? What do you think?

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