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OURANIA Cyprus.

The ruins of a small coastal town about 8 km due NE of the village of Rizokarpasso in the Karpass peninsula, have been identified with those of Ourania. The ruins cover a sizable area back from the coast on the last slopes of the ridge and on the plain below. The acropolis bounded the town to the S. The town possessed a harbor, W of which the necropolis lies near the shore. Three Byzantine churches are the only prominent monuments still standing.

Nothing is known of the origins of Ourania. Geometric and archaic tombs known in the neighborhood of the Classical site may belong to it. However, archaeological evidence is at present against a date earlier than the Classical period for its founding. The town flourished down to Early Byzantine times, when it was gradually abandoned after the first Arab raids of A.D. 647.

Very little is known of the history, and but for a doubtful reference in Nonnos (13.452), our only authority for its existence is Diodoros (20.47.2), who relates its capture by Demetrios Poliorketes. Demetrios, coming from Cilicia, landed his forces in 306 B.C. at Karpasia and, having stormed both Ourania and Karpasia, marched on Salamis.

The principal monuments now visible are, apart from the churches, the acropolis and the harbor. The ruins of the lower town are now under cultivation with great quantities of stones, fragments of columns, and other remains scattered about or piled up. To the E may be seen a large quarry, now called Phylakes. A number of tombs, dating from Classical to Hellenistic times, were excavated in 1938 in the necropolis but these are for the most part filled in.

To the S of the ruined town rises the acropolis, a rock projecting sheer on three sides from the hills into the plain. On its summit can still be seen the foundations of a building, possibly a sanctuary or a fortress. The entire ground plan of the building has been preserved because the lower portion of its rooms was excavated in the living rock to a depth varying from .61 to 1.21 m. Enough of the walls remain intact to determine the position of the doorways and the character of the approaches. The outer walls are generally .61 to .91 m thick and the party walls vary from .31 to .46 m. The building was approached from the SE by a wide passage, on the left of which are two rooms; a flight of four steps and a gate, whose sockets remain, lead into an inner room, which again opens into a third room, the largest of the three.

Less than a km below the town lies a little horseshoe bay which served as a harbor. The entrance is narrow but the space within could afford room for many small craft. On the beach still stand four stone mooring-posts, ca. .91 m high. The remains of the masonry of the quay may be traced for some distance.

The finds from the excavations of the necropolis are in the Cyprus Museum, Nicosia but certain tomb groups have been allocated to the Ashmolean Museum in Oxford, to the Museum of Classical Archaeology in Cambridge, to the Institute of Archaeology in London, and to the Nicholson Museum in Sydney.


BIBLIOGRAPHY

D. G. Hogarth, Devia Cypria (1889); E. Dray & J. du Plat Taylor, “Tsambres and Aphendrika,” Report of the Department of Antiquities, Cyprus (1937-39) 24-123MPI.

K. NICOLAOU

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