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On the N coast 23 km E of Cape Kormakiti. The ruins cover a large area now occupied by the modern town. The town site is situated on the shore, but its limits are difficult to define. The town had a harbor, used to this day by small craft, whose ancient breakwaters are still visible behind Kyrenia Castle. The necropolis extends W along the shore.

One of the ancient kingdoms of Cyprus, Keryneia was traditionally founded by Kephios from Achaia in the Peloponnese. Evidence for the arrival of the Mycenaeans in the area occurs at the villages of Kazaphani and of Karmi, both very near the site. Archaeological evidence for the town itself, however, does not at present support a date earlier than the Geometric period for its founding. In Early Christian times it became the seat of a bishop. The ancient town flourished down to Early Byzantine times when it was sacked during the first Arab raids of A.D. 647.

Very little is known of the history. Kelena, identified with it, appears in a list of names in the temple at Medinet Habu in Egypt of the time of Rameses III (12th c. B.C.) but this reading is not to be trusted. The name of the Classical town is mentioned for the first time by Skylax in the mid 4th c. B.C., by Diodoros, and later by Ptolemy, Pliny, and Pompeius Melas, but strangely enough it is omitted by Strabo. It is also mentioned in the list of the theodorokoi at Delphi (early 2d c. B.C.) and at Kafizin the ethnic occurs in the time of Ptolemy III, Euergetes I (second half of the 3d c. B.C.).

It is conjectured that Themison, the Cypriot king to whom Aristotle dedicated his “Protreptikos,” was a king of Keryneia, who must have reigned during the second half of the 4th c. B.C. Its last “dynast,” possibly Themison, suspected of being on the side of Antigonos, was arrested in 312 B.C. by Ptolemy.

From inscriptions we learn of the worship of Aphrodite and of Apollo but nothing is known of the position of the sanctuaries. From inscriptions also we learn that there was a gymnasium, but again its site remains unidentified. And from an inscription of the time of the emperor Claudius we are informed that water was carried to the town by an aqueduct from a source at Limnal. No coins have been attributed to Keryneia. The town site itself is still unexcavated but many casual finds have been recorded.

Practically nothing survives in the way of monuments except for some rock-cut tombs in the W part of the town, looted long ago. In a sanctuary in the upper part of the town many statuettes of terracotta and of limestone were found, dating from the archaic to the Hellenistic period. In the same area some other buildings also came to light but nothing is visible today. More recently a number of fragmentary limestone statues and of terracotta figurines were accidentally found in a bothros within the town. They date from Classical and Hellenistic times and obviously belong to a nearby sanctuary. Recent rescue excavations have also brought to light a number of tombs dating mainly from the Classical and Hellenistic periods.

The finds are in the Keryneia and Nicosia Museums.


I. K. Peristianes, Γενικὴ Ἱστορία τῆς νήσου Κύπρου (1910); id., “A Cypriote Inscription from Keryneia,” JHS 34 (1914) 119-21; id., A Brief Guide to the History and Ancient Monuments of Keryneia Town and District (1931) 3-6; George Hill, History of Cyprus I (1949) in passim; V. Karageorghis, “Chronique des Fouilles et Découvertes Archéologiques à Chypre,” BCH 89 (1965), 257-60I; 90 (1966), 339-41I; 95 (1971) 362f; 96 (1972) 1032; 97 (1963) 624-26; M. Katsev, “The Kyrenia Shipwreck,” Expedition 11 (1969) 55-59I; 12 (1970) 6-14I.


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