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KITION (Larnaca) Cyprus.

The ruins cover a large area now occupied by the modern town. The city site, on the S coast, is situated on a hill sloping gently S. The acropolis is NE of the city, but unfortunately very little of it survives. The port lay on the E side below the acropolis. At this end the sea penetrated inland and reached the foot of the acropolis and then turned a little to the S. This inlet formed a natural harbor, the enclosed harbor of Strabo. All this is now silted up and the present coast line is ca. one-half km away. Traces of the city wall and of the moat, which followed the edge of the plateau, are still visible, particularly on the W side. A vast necropolis extends N, W, and S. The tombs date from the Early Bronze Age to Graeco-Roman times.

The city was founded, according to archaeological evidence, in the Late Bronze Age but the site was already occupied in the Early Bronze Age. Recent excavations have shown that the founders were Mycenaeans coming from the Peloponnese. The Phoenicians arrived at Kition at the end of the 9th c. B.C. at first as traders during their expansion to the W, and later as settlers; yet the vast population of the city must have remained Greek, as the archaeological evidence testifies. Later, however, with the help of the Persians, the Phoenicians established a dynasty which ruled the city in the 5th and 4th c. B.C.

There is no positive evidence as to the earlier kings of Kition but a memorial stele of Sargon II, erected here in 709 B.C., mentions that the Cypriot kings submitted to the Assyrian king and paid him tribute. The inscription mentions seven kings of Ya, a district of Yatnana, which seems to be the cuneiform rendering of “the isles of the Danai,” i.e. the land of Greeks. Therefore the king of Kition, where the stele was found, must have been at that time a Greek. Unfortunately the names of the kings are not mentioned. The Greek rulers must have remained in power down to the very end of the 6th c. B.C. for at the time of the Ionian Revolt (499-498 B.C.) Kition joined the revolt against Persia.

The failure of the revolt and the support which the Persians gave the Phoenicians, especially after the battles of Marathon and Salamis, soon brought them to power. In the year 479 a Phoenician dynasty had been established, which ruled Kition until it fell to Ptolemy I Soter in 312 B.C. The Phoenician dynasty, however, was broken for a short period in 388-387 B.C. by the installation at Kition of King Demonikos at the time when most of Cyprus was liberated by King Euagoras I of Salamis with the help of the Athenian general Chabrias.

Kition was the birthplace of Zeno, the Stoic philosopher and of the physician Artemidoros. From a metrical epitaph of the 2d c. A.D. we learn that Kilikas, a native of Kition, was a teacher of the Homeric poems. According to other epigraphical evidence quinquennial games were held at Kition in Graeco-Roman times.

Systematic excavations were conducted in 1894, when a number of tombs and a sanctuary were investigated. Later, in 1913, the Bamboula hill, i.e., the acropolis, was explored. In 1930, on the same acropolis, the Temple of Herakles-Melkart was excavated. And since 1959 excavations in the N extremity of the town have been carried out. Most of the ruins, however, remain unexcavated and the task of exploring them is a very difficult one because the modern town is built over them.

The principal monuments uncovered to the present time include, in addition to those mentioned above, part of the fortifications of the Mycenaean city and a large Phoenician temple in the N part of the city. The city wall of the Classical period can be traced for most of its course, particularly on the W side, and the site is known of the ancient harbor, now silted up. The site of the Hellenistic gymnasium and that of the Temple of Artemis Paralia is also known, while the site of a theater may be conjectured. A Temple of Aphrodite-Astarte may have stood on the acropolis side by side with that of Herakles-Melkart. And from inscriptions we know of the worship of Zeus-Keraunios, Asklepios and Hygeia, Aphrodite, Esmun-Adonis, Baal Senator, and Esmun Melkart, the last by the Salt Lake.

Substantial remains of the city wall of Mycenaean Kition, later of Classical Kition as well, can be seen on the N extremity of the ancient town. Houses of the Geometric period were built in this part of the city above the Mycenaean remains and follow the architecture of the previous period, for in most cases the older foundations were reused. The Temple to Astarte was built towards the end of the 9th c. on the foundations of an earlier Mycenaean temple which had fallen into disuse ca. 1000 B.C. when this part of the Mycenaean town was abandoned. It is an imposing rectangular building measuring 35 x 22 m. The walls were constructed of large ashlar blocks, some of them measuring as much as 3.50 m in width and 1.50 m in height. Two parallel rows of columns, six in each row, supported the roof of the temple. The adyton stood at the W side and in front there is a large courtyard with two entrances. Four rows of wooden columns, of which only the stone bases survive, supported the roof of the porticos on each side of the courtyard. The temple suffered many changes—four successive floors were recognized—during the five centuries of its life until its final destruction in the year 312 B.C., when Ptolemy I Soter put to death Pumiathon, the last Phoenician king of Kition, and burned the Phoenician temples of the town.

A bath establishment of the Hellenistic period was recently uncovered at Chrysopolitissa. It consisted of two tholoi within which were a series of cemented basins around the hall. One of the rooms was circular with a column in its center; the other was rectangular. Nearby was found a mosaic floor of the Graeco-Roman period, composed of geometric and floral patterns in black and white.

Four built tombs (archaic) can be seen in the W necropolis of Kition. The tomb of Haghia Phaneromeni contains two chambers, one behind the other. The outer chamber is rectangular in shape; the interior, square with one corner rounded. The roofs of both the chambers are vaulted, and are formed by huge blocks hollowed out and covering the whole width of the chambers. The so-called Cobham's tomb contained three chambers entered by a dromos leading down to them. The first chamber had a very fine coffered ceiling, the second and third were provided with barrel roofs with real vaults. The third room was quite small, more or less a recessed space to contain the sarcophagus. The walls between the chambers were provided with moldings in the shape of pilaster capitals on both sides of the doorways. Close by is the Evangelis Tomb, which was damaged in late times. It may originally have had a similar plan to the Phaneromeni Tomb, with a dromos leading down to a large rectangular chamber with a second one behind. Both chambers had corbel vaults and were constructed of large, well-dressed blocks.

The finds are in the Nicosia and Larnaca Museums.


Luigi Palma di Cesnola, Cyprus, its Ancient Cities, Tombs and Temples (1877); A. Sakellarios, Τὰ Κυπριακά I (1890); John L. Myres, “Excavations in Cyprus 1894: Larnaca,”JHS 17 (1897), 152-73I; id., “Excavations in Cyprus 1913: The Bamboula Hill at Larnaca,”BSA 41 (1940-45) 85-69PI; I. K. Peristianes, Γεϝικὴ Ἱστορία τῆς νήσου Κύπρου (1910); V. Karageorghis, “Fouilles de Kition 1959: Etudes sur les origines de la ville,”BCH 84 (1960), 504-88MPI; id., “Chronique des fouilles et découvertes archéologiques à Chypre,”BCH 84 (1960), 283-86I; 90 (1966), 362-65PI; 91 (1967) 315-24I; 92 (1968) 302-11PI; 93 (1969) 517-27PI; 94 (1970) 251-58PI; 95 (1971) 377-90PI; 96 (1972) 1058-64PI; 97 (1973) 648-53I; id., “New Light on the History of Ancient Kition,” Mélanges K. Michalowski (1966) 495-504I; K. Nicolaou, Κίτιον Ἑλληνίς * Kypriakai Spoudai 15 (1961) 19-39MI; id., “Archaeological News from Cyprus 1966,” AJA 71 (1967) 401; 72 (1968) 374-75; 74 (1970) 73, 393-94; 76 (1972) 313-14; 77 (1973) 53-54,427.


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