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There were at least three towns so named, all three on the coast. A fourth one in the interior is rather doubtful. One was formerly Marion on the NW coast near Cape Arnauti, another at modern Famagusta on the E coast, and the third somewhere between Old and New Paphos on the SW coast. As to the fourth, it is said to be at Arsos in the Limassol district. Of the four, only the first has been explored.

The best known Arsinoe is the former Marion (q.v.). After Alexander the Great, Stasioikos II, the last king of Marion, sided with Antigonos against Ptolemy. In 312 B.C. the city was razed by Ptolemy and its inhabitants were transferred to Paphos. On the ruins a new city was founded about 270 B.C. by Ptolemy Philadelphus who renamed it after his wife and sister. We probably know more of this Arsinoe than of its predecessor Marion.

The ruins of this town are to be found to the N of the modern village of Polis. Part of the site is now a field of ruins under cultivation and part is inhabited, but the town may have extended S under the modern village. The necropolis, also the Classical necropolis of Marion, lies mainly to the S. This Arsinoe is well known to geographers and historians (Strab. 14.683; Ptol. 5.14.4; Plin. HNT 5.130; Steph. Byz.). The Stadiasmus (309) and inscriptions record it. The town flourished during the Hellenistic and Graeco-Roman era, and in Early Christian times it became the seat of a bishop. The site has never been excavated. Some soundings made in 1929 were intended to locate the earlier city.

From an inscription of the 3d c. B.C. we know that there was a Hellenistic gymnasium but its position remains unknown. There was probably a theater but we have no evidence although its position can be conjectured. We learn from Strabo that there was a Sacred Grove to Zeus and from an inscription of the time of Tiberius we are told of the existence of a Temple of Zeus and Aphrodite. The site of a sanctuary is known at the far end of a small ridge at Maratheri, E of the ancient town. This sanctuary may well be that of Zeus and Aphrodite mentioned in the above inscription, which almost certainly came from this site. This cult may be earlier for on some coins of Stasioikos II is shown on the obverse the head of Zeus and on the reverse that of Aphrodite. In fact, casual finds also date this sanctuary from the archaic to the Graeco-Roman period. The site is the most important town in Cyprus of this name and as we know of many Arsinoeia in the island we may presume that there was one here too.

A number of tombs of the Hellenistic and Graeco-Roman era were excavated in the necropolis S of Polis. These tombs contain the familiar Hellenistic and Roman pottery and other furniture and very often are rich in jewelry. However, there is nothing to be seen at present above ground.


D. G. Hogarth, Devia Cypria (1889); Einar Gjerstad et al., Swedish Cyprus Expedition II (1935) s.v. Marion; Sir George Hill, A History of Cyprus I (1949); RE, s.v.

Arsinoe. K. NICOLAOU

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