On the N
coast, E of the Monastery of Acheiropoietos and 10 km
W of Keryneia. The ruins cover a large area along the
seashore. Substantial remains of a harbor with its breakwaters still survive and the city wall can be traced for
most of its course. The necropolis extends E.
The site extends mainly along the shore for a considerable distance, but also inland. Part of it may lie
under the cultivated land. The rest of the site is now a
field of ruins overgrown with scrub. A rocky hill near
the center of the city may have been its acropolis. The
site has been badly damaged by looters in search of stone
and treasure. Lampousa is well known for its Early
Byzantine silver treasure, most of which is now in the
Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York.
It appears that there was originally a rocky ridge
running E-W a little farther back from the sea. It began
at the rock-cut chapel, probably a tomb, at Acheiropoietos on the W, included the acropolis about halfway,
and extended E to the Troulli hill. In this mass of rock
there were tombs dating probably from the 6th and 5th
c. B.C., an indication that the earlier city was still nearer
the coast and that when it expanded in later Classical
and Hellenistic times this part was also inhabited so
that most of the tombs were then quarried and destroyed.
Lapethos, one of the ancient kingdoms of Cyprus,
was, according to tradition, founded by Praxandros from
Lakonia in the Peloponnese. Excavations on the acropolis have shown that the city was inhabited during the
Late Bronze Age, which accords well with its traditional
origin. A Late Bronze Age settlement has also been
located higher up within the modern village of Lapethos
while Early Geometric tombs surround the village.
Little is known of the history. The name appears for
the first time in 312 B.C. when its king Praxippos, who
was suspected of being on the side of Antigonos, was
arrested by Ptolemy. From coins, however, we know the
names of some of its kings of the 5th and 4th c. B.C.,
and the name is mentioned by Skylax the geographer
(mid 4th c. B.C.). After that it is frequently mentioned
by other ancient authors. Lapethos seems to have flourished mainly from archaic down to Early Byzantine
times, when it became a bishopric. The city was gradually abandoned after the first Arab raids of A.D. 647.
To Lapethos are attributed coins of the mid 5th c.
B.C. with Phoenician legends and heads of Athena. Some
of them name a king Sidqmelek, thus indicating a temporary Phoenician rule. Earlier coins show Athena and
Aphrodite. To the later king Praxippos are attributed
coins with the head of Apollo on the obverse and a krater
on the reverse. The temporary Phoenician rule, however, does not prove the existence of Phoenician settlers
From inscriptions we learn that there was a gymnasium, and it is possible that there was a theater, but
nothing is known of the location of either. It seems
strange that no evidence has been forthcoming so far
of the existence at Lapethos of sanctuaries nor do we
know anything of the worship there of any deity. Lapethos is one of the Cypriot cities mentioned in the list
of the theodorokoi from Delphi (early 2d c. B.C.).
According to epigraphical evidence quinquennial games
were held at Lapethos. These were known as the Aktaion
games, held in celebration of the victory at Aktion.
Very little survives in the way of monuments and
only minor excavations were carried out on the city
site. Part of the acropolis was investigated in 1913; and
in 1915 a small excavation was carried out at Troulli
hill; the results in both cases, however, were disappointing.
The upper part of the acropolis was of solid rock
deeply dissected by house basements with rock-cut doors
and staircases; there were chamber tombs on the E face
and deep quarries on the N.
The results of the excavations at Troulli hill were
much the same. Again chambers had been cut in the
solid rock and rubble walls. One such chamber had a
long and thick wall resting on solid rock. Opposite this
wall, the rock, 11 m high, had its side cut straight so
as to form the other parallel wall of a long and narrow
chamber, 4 m wide, with the door at the broader side
opening to a small antechamber.
Probably the best preserved remains are those of the
harbor, where both the ancient breakwaters still survive for a considerable distance. The W arm measures
about 155 m; the N one is shorter, measuring about
40 m. In this way was created a small but safe harbor
protected from the N winds. This is undoubtedly the
anchorage for small craft mentioned by Strabo. The
breakwaters were recently reinforced with new blocks
of stone in order to make a safer fishing shelter.
To the E of the city lie a group of ancient fish
tanks right on the rocky coast, all cut in the solid rock.
They communicate directly with the sea or with one
another by canals. The largest one 30 x 13.25 m and
ca. 1 m deep, is fairly well preserved. It communicates
directly with the sea by three side oblique canals and by
a front (sea side) system of openings and sluices of
A. Sakellarios, Τὰ Κυπριακά
I. K. Peristianes, Γενικὴ Ἱστορία τῆς νήσου Κυπρου
Menelaos Markides, “Excavations at Lampousa,” Annual
Report of the Curator of Antiquities
John L. Myres, “Excavations in Cyprus, 1913: Lapethos,” BSA
41 (1940-45) 72-78PI
, s.v. Lapethos;
A. Stylianou & K. Karmanta, Karavas