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Inland by the river Yialias 22 km NW of Kition. The ruins of the ancient city extend to the S of the modern village of Dali. The city consisted of three parts: two acropoleis and the lower town. The acropoleis occupied two hills, Moutti tou Gavrili to the E and Ambelleri to the W. These acropoleis bounded the city to the S and the lower town extended on their N slopes and on the flat land right up to the S outskirts of the modern village, which lies near the river. The city wall can still be traced along the N ridge of the E acropolis and past the Church of Haghios Georgios, where it disappears in the plain. It can also be traced along the ridge of the W acropolis, where it was partly excavated, and then disappears in the plain below. The necropolis extends E and W. Tombs of the Late Bronze Age and of Geometric times lie in the E necropolis; those of the archaic, Classical, Hellenistic, and Graeco-Roman, in the W one.

Idalion, one of the ancient kingdoms of Cyprus, was, according to tradition, founded by Chalcanor. Excavations have shown that the city was inhabited towards the end of the Late Bronze Age, when the W acropolis became a fortified stronghold with a cult place. This later became the place of the Temenos of Athena, whom the Phoenicians identified with their own Anat. On a terrace below the top of the W acropolis are remains of the royal palace, uncovered by trial excavations. The summit of the E acropolis was occupied by a Temenos of Aphrodite and in the narrow valley between the two acropoleis was the Temenos of Apollo, whom the Phoenicians identified with their Reshef. The Sanctuaries of Aphrodite and of Apollo, summarily excavated at the end of the 19th century, yielded a series of sculptures of stone and terracotta dating from the archaic, Classical, and Hellenistic periods. The W acropolis was excavated in 1928.

Little is known of the history of Idalion but the name appears on the prism of Esarhaddon (673-672 B.C.) and the sequence of its kings from the beginning to the middle of the 5th c. B.C. is fairly well fixed. The city fell in the siege by the Persians and the Kitians and thereafter was governed by Kition, which was itself ruled by a Phoenician dynasty. The presence of Phoenicians at Idalion after its fall is witnessed by inscriptions. The city continued to flourish throughout the Hellenistic and Graeco-Roman times and, unlike other cities of Cyprus, seems to have had in the 5th c. B.C. a constitution with some democratic element. Before falling to the Kitians it issued its own coins, the first of which date from shortly before 500 B.C. These coins show on the obverse a sphinx and on the reverse a lotus flower.

Very little survives in the way of monuments, the principal one being the remains of the Temple of Athena on the summit of the W acropolis. Of the Sanctuaries of Aphrodite and of Apollo nothing is to be seen. In the necropolis a number of tombs were excavated but only one tomb can now be viewed within the W necropous.

The Temple of Athena was enclosed by the fortification wall, which at the same time served as a peribolos wall of the temenos. The first temenos belongs to Late Cypro-Geometric times but several additions and rebuildings were made during the Cypro-archaic period until it was finally abandoned at the beginning of the Cypro-Classical period. Originally it consisted of a chapel and an altar, the first being a room of the liwan type. Along the SW fortification a hall was built later which was entered through a gateway opening in the wall and communicated with the outer temenos. Simultaneously a wall was built to screen the area of the chapel, which thus became the inner temenos, in the N part of which another altar was built like the one in the cult chapel. In its final phase it underwent only minor alterations. Many ex-votos were discovered in these successive sanctuaries.

An archaic tomb in the W necropolis lies close to the road to Dali from Nisou. A long, narrow stepped dromos cut into the rock leads to the chamber, which is built with well-dressed stones and has a saddle-shaped roof. The tomb, although looted in the past, yielded a number of vases and metallic objects.

Casual finds turn up frequently but the most important is an inscribed bronze tablet, now in the Bibliothèque Nationale in Paris, which was reported to have been found accidentally in 1850 or before in the Sanctuary of Athena on the W acropolis. Other finds are in the Cyprus Museum, Nicosia.


Luigi Palma di Cesnola, Cyprus, its Ancient Cities, Tombs and Temples (1877); R. Hamilton Lang, “Narrative of Excavations in a Temple at Dali (Idalium) in Cyprus,” Transactions R. Soc. Lit., II, Ser. xi (1878) 30-79; id., Cyprus (1878); M. Ohnefalsch-Richter & E. Oberhummer, “Idalion,” The Owl, nos. 6,7,8,9 (1888)MI; Ohnefalsch-Richter, Kypros, the Bible and Homer (1893); A. Sakellarios, Τὰ κυπριακά I (1890); I. K. Peristianes, Γενική Ἱστορία τῆς νήσου Κύπου (1910); Einar Gjerstad et al., Swedish Cyprus Expedition II (1935)MPI; K. Spyridakis, “Συμβολή εἰς τήν Ἱστορίαν τῆς Πολιτείας τοῦ Ἀρχαίου Ἰδαλίου,” Κυπριακαί Σπουδαί Α A (1937) 61-78; Olivier Masson, Les Inscriptions Chypriotes Syllabiques (1961) 233-52; id., “Kypriaka—Le sanctuaire d'Apollon à Idalion,” BCH 92 (1968), 386-402I; V. Karageorghis, “Excavations in the Necropolis of Idalion,” Report of the Department of Antiquities, Cyprus (1964) 28-84MPI; id., Nouveaux Documents pour l'Etude du Bronze Récent à Chypre (1965).


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