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On the S coast, about 11 km E of Limassol. The ruins cover a large area on top of a hill and on the slopes reaching the sea to the S. The lower city lies between the acropolis and the sea and to the E. Remains of the ancient city wall and of the harbor still survive. The relatively well-preserved wall across the acropolis is of Early Byzantine times. The necropolis extends E, N, and W of the town.

One of the ancient kingdoms of Cyprus, its legendary founder was Kinyras, who called the city after his mother Amathous. It was said in antiquity that the people were autochthonous. They used a non-Greek language, as shown by inscriptions in the Cypriot syllabary used down to the 4th c. B.C. According to one version of the Ariadne legend, Theseus abandoned Ariadne at Amathousa, where she died. The Amathousians are said to have called the grove where she was buried the “Wood of Aphrodite Ariadne.”

Nothing is known of the earliest history of the city. At the time of the Ionian Revolt (499-498 B.C.) it sided with the Persians. Onesilos, king of Salamis, who led the revolt, persuaded all the Cypriots except those of Amathous to join him against Persia. Onesilos proceeded to lay siege to Amathous, but forced by other events to abandon the siege, he fell in the battle that ensued on the plain of Salamis.

King Euagoras I of Salamis (411-374/373 B.C.) reduced Amathous at the time of his attempt to liberate Cyprus from the Persians. Its king Rhoikos had been made a prisoner, but then returned home, his release having been effected by the Athenians, who were Euagoras' allies. King Androkles of Amathous assisted Alexander the Great at the siege of Tyre. The history of the city was written in nine books by Eratosthenes of Kyrene (275-195 B.C.). The kings of Amathous who are known to have issued coins are Zotimos, Lysandros, Epipalos, and possibly Rhoikos. The city continued to flourish throughout the Hellenistic and Graeco-Roman periods down to Early Byzantine times, when it became the seat of a bishop, but it was gradually abandoned after the first Arab raids of A.D. 647

Some stretches of the walls still stand but practically nothing of the city has been uncovered so far. A number of built tombs had been excavated in the 19th c., while more tombs were excavated in 1930. In recent years the ruins of two Early Christian basilican churches were excavated. A built tomb can be seen on the seaward side of the main Nicosia-Limassol road a little W of the ruins of the city. A large dromos, measuring 13 x 7 m, slopes down to the doorway. The interior of the tomb consists of two rectangular chambers; both have corbeled slightly curved saddle roofs with flat top stones. It is dated to the beginning of the Cypro-archaic I period, shortly after 700 B.C.

The city wall may be traced in practically all its course; the circuit starts at the E end by the sea near the Church of Haghia Varvara, extends N along the edge of the acropolis, and returns along its W edge. Remains of this Classical wall survive at both ends. Of the ancient harbor only a little is now visible, on the SE of the acropolis. Part of it has silted up and only scanty remains of the artificial breakwaters can still be seen above water. The sites of a gymnasium and of a theater are suspected but they have never been investigated. The Temple of Aphrodite (also known as Amathousia) is to be sought on the summit of the acropolis. We also know of the worship in Amathous of Zeus, Hera, Hermes and Adonis, but nothing about the position of their sanctuaries. Cut into the face of a rock on the E side of the acropolis there is a Greek inscription recording the construction by Lucius Vitellius Callinicus at his own expense of the steps leading up to it and of an arch.

Casual finds in the city site are frequent. A colossal statue in gray limestone, measuring 4.20 m in height and 2 m in width at the shoulders, now in the Istanbul Museum, was found in 1873 by the harbor. This curious colossus has been much discussed and many identifications have been put forward, but most probably it represents Bes. Its date too is disputed but it may well be an archaistic statue of the Roman period. In 1862 a colossal stone vase, now in the Louvre, was found on the summit of the acropolis. It may have stood at the entrance to the Temple of Aphrodite. It has four horizontal arched handles ending with palmettes, within each of which is placed a bull. Many small finds are in the Nicosia and Limassol Museums.


Luigi Palma di Cesnola, Cyprus, its Ancient Cities, Tombs and Temples (1877); A. Sakellarios, Τὰ Κυπριακά Ι (1890); A. S. Murray et al., Excavations in Cyprus (1900); I. K. Peristianes, Γενικὴ Ἱστορία τῆς νήσου Κύπρου (1910); Einar Gjerstad et al., Swedish Cyprus Expedition II (1935); George Hill, “Amathus,” Mélanges Emile Boisacq V (1937) 485-91; V. R. d'A. Desborough, “A Group of Vases from Amathous,” JHS 77 (1957) 212-19; V. Karageorghis, “Découvertes à Amathonte,” BCH 85 (1961), 312-13; Olivier Masson, Les Inscriptions Chypriotes Syllabiques (1961) 201-12; C. Adelman, “A Sculpture in Relief from Amathous,” Report of the Department of Antiquities, Cyprus (1971) 59-64PI; BCH 97 (1973) 685-86; AJA 77 (1973) 432.


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