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PAPHOS or Nea Paphos (Kato Paphos) Cyprus.

On the W coast. The ruins cover an extensive area, about 100 ha, part of which is now occupied by the modern village of Kato Paphos. Vast necropoleis extend N and E. Nea Paphos, or simply Paphos, was the capital of Cyprus during the latter part of the Hellenistic period and throughout the Roman era. Nea Paphos should not be confused with Palaipaphos (q.v.), which lies some 16 km to the SE, which as the earlier of the two cities was the seat of the kingdom of Paphos and the center of the celebrated cult of Aphrodite. Nea Paphos is definitely a later city founded sometime in the 4th c. B.C. Apart from the contemporary cemeteries, a large necropolis of the Geometric, archaic, Classical, Hellenistic, and Graeco-Roman times exists further inland within the limits of the modern town of Paphos, but the city to which this necropolis belongs remains unidentified.

The historical sources for Nea Paphos are late and their evidence is confusing for it is not always clear to which of the two cities they refer, though generally speaking Paphos, at least in the earlier authors, denotes Palaipaphos. The use of Paphos, to designate Nea Paphos becomes current during the 2d c. B.C.

Nea Paphos was probably founded in the latter part of the 4th c. B.C. by Nikokles, the last king of the Paphian kingdom, to serve as his economic and political capital. The destruction of the city of Marion in 312 B.C. by Ptolemy Soter and the transfer of its population to Paphos may refer to this new city. Nikokles was awarded the people of Marion for his fidelity to Ptolemy and it is not unreasonable to suggest that the inhabitants of Marion were sent to people a newly founded city. Nea Paphos gradually grew in importance and by the beginning of the 2d c. B.C. had taken the place of Salamis as capital of Cyprus.

Nea Paphos had in Ptolemaic times a shipbuilding industry. Ptolemy II Philadelphos (284–246/245) had two large ships built there by the naval architect Pyrgoteles son of Zoes, to whom a statue was erected in the Temple of Aphrodite at Palaipaphos.

Under the Ptolemies, Nea Paphos (hereafter Paphos) enjoyed certain forms of liberty, as for example, a βουλή and δῆμος and a γραμματεύς. The importance of Paphos is shown by the fact that this city along with Salamis and Kition preserved the right to issue coins. In fact, the Paphian mint was the most important, and was the only one still issuing coins in Roman times. Recent excavations brought to light a hoard consisting of 2484 silver Ptolemaic tetradrachmas, the majority of which were minted in Paphos. The others were minted in Salamis and Kition. Molds were found also for casting flans as well as bronze flans for making coins, again of the Ptolemaic period.

Paphos, which had been increasing in importance under the Ptolemies and had become the capital of Cyprus, retained this position throughout the Roman period until the 4th c. A.D. when it reverted to Salamis. The earliest written record of the city as capital of Cyprus occurs in the Acts of the Apostles (13:5-13), which describes the visit of St. Paul, John, Mark the Evangelist, and St. Barnabas to Paphos (A.D. 45), the seat of the proconsul Sergius Paulus, whom they converted to Christianity.

The cities of Roman Cyprus were governed by a δῆμος and βουλή and there is nothing to indicate that the Romans ever founded a colonia or municipium in the island. A joint organization termed the Κοινὸν Κυπρίων (Federation of Cypriots), which was functioning under the Ptolemies, continued during the Roman period.

At some time in the 4th c. A.D. Paphos yielded to Salamis its place as the metropolis of Cyprus, possibly because of the severe earthquakes of 332 and 342, in which both cities were badly shaken. Paphos was eventually rebuilt but it never regained its lost glory. The city became in Early Christian times the seat of a bishop and within reduced limits it continued to be a city of some importance. It survived the Arab raids.

The principal monuments uncovered to date include the House of Dionysos with floor mosaics, a large public building also with floor mosaics, an odeon, two Early Christian basilicas, and the Early Byzantine Castle. The city wall can still be traced for most of its course and the breakwaters of the ancient harbor are still there. Moreover we know the site of the gymnasium, of a Hellenistic theater, of a garrison camp, of the Temple of Apollo Hylates, and of other monuments. From inscriptions we are also informed of the worship here of Aphrodite, Zeus, Apollo, Artemis, and Leto. Most of the ruins of this city, however, remain unexcavated.

The House of Dionysos (ca. A.D. 3d c.) is of impressive dimensions; it occupies an area of ca. 2000 sq. m, of which about one-quarter is paved with mosaics. It is an atrium-type house with an impluvium in the center. The floor of the rectangular portico thus formed around the impluvium was paved with mosaics. The rooms all around the atrium were similarly paved. To the E lie the bedrooms and the bathrooms and a small peristyle vivarium. To the W are the kitchens and the workshops. The main entrance is at the SW, leading up from the S street. Remains of painted stucco indicate that the walls of the house were also decorated with polychrome geometric or floral patterns.

The pavement mosaics are composed of magnificent polychrome designs of great artistic value and beauty. On three sides of the atrium there are a series of hunting scenes. On the fourth (W) portico are four panels of figures from Greek mythology: Pyramos and Thisbe; Dionysos, Akme, Ikarios and the First Wine Drinkers; Poseidon and Amymone; and Apollo pursuing Daphne. The most important room is probably the tablinum. In its center a large rectangular panel depicts a vintage scene. Along its E, narrow end is another mythological scene representing the Triumph of Dionysos. This panel is flanked by the Dioskouroi. Other figure representations exist in other rooms: Hippolytos and Phaidra, Ganymede and the Eagle, the Peacock, the Four Seasons, and Narcissus. Moreover, many other rooms are paved with a geometric decoration only but again of a great variety of color and pattern.

What appears to be a public building of Late Roman times, due S of the House of Dionysos, has been under excavation since 1965. This edifice has an inner peristyle court, 56 x 43 m, surrounded by long porticos with rows of rooms adjacent to them. So far only parts of the N, the W, and the S wings have been excavated. The porticos and most of the rooms were paved with mosaics, but they are, with few exceptions, badly damaged. At the E end of the S corridor is an apsidal room, which was probably the corner chamber of the E wing. It contains within a medallion a mosaic pavement depicting Theseus slaying the Minotaur, Ariadne and personifications of Crete, and the Labyrinth. In one of the S rooms another relatively well-preserved mosaic floor depicts the Three Fates, Peleus, Thetis, and Achilles.

An odeion was recently excavated on the E slope of a low hill where the modern lighthouse stands, believed to be the acropolis. The odeion, which was entirely built, suffered much damage at the hands of quarrymen but 12 rows of seats were identified.

The parodoi were also badly looted but the remains of their foundations indicate that spectators entered the orchestra by a Γ-shaped parodos similar to those of the theater at Soloi. The stage-building, constructed of large well-dressed stones, extended beyond the parodoi. Only its floor survives. The diameter of the semicircular orchestra measures ca. 12 m. The lower course of the outside analemma is well preserved; the diameter of the cavea is ca. 47.7 m. The Paphos odeion, the first of its kind known in the island, dates from the beginning of the 1st c. A.D. It has been partly restored.

On the S slope of the Fabrica hill in the E sector of the city can be seen the remains of another theater, still unexcavated, looking S and commanding a wide and beautiful view over the city below and the sea beyond. The upper part of the cavea is cut in the solid rock, where many rows of seats are still visible. Inscriptions date the theater to the 3d c. B.C.

The city wall may be traced in practically all its course but the better preserved part lies to the NW. At this point the circuit follows the edge of the artificially scarped cliffs. Here too lies the NW gate, the foundations of which are cut in the rock. The approach from the sea was by a bridge, also rock-cut, which slopes gently outside the gate to a length of some 36 m. The gate itself was flanked by towers. There still exist some sally ports. A NE gate is also visible and there were probably a N and an E one. Apparently there were towers at regular intervals all along the circuit. This city wall may have been originally built by King Nikokles, the founder of Nea Paphos.

The ancient harbor, still used by small craft, was mainly artificial with its two breakwaters projecting into the sea for a considerable distance. The surviving length of the E arm is 350 m, that of the W one is 170 m.

A complex of underground chambers to the N of the city may be part of the camp of a garrison. The complex consists of a long vaulted passage with chambers opening along the E side and at the far end to the N. Two of these chambers resemble those of the Sanctuary of Apollo Hylates (see below) and it is possible that they served as a sanctuary but only as part of a larger compound of buildings and it appears that the whole was surrounded by a wall. The date to be assigned to them should be the end of the 4th c. B.C.

The Sanctuary of Apollo Hylates lies to the E outside the limits of the ancient city. Cut in the solid rock it is composed of two underground chambers entered by a flight of steps. The front chamber is rectangular; the back one, circular with a dome-shaped roof. Two rock-cut inscriptions in the Cypro-syllabic script, cut above the entrance of the cave, inform us that it was dedicated to Apollo Hylates. These inscriptions are dated to the end of the 4th c. B.C., hence the sanctuary should be contemporary with the foundation of Nea Paphos.

The Tombs of the Kings lie in the N necropolis about 1.5 km from the city. They consist of an open peristyle court in the center with burial chambers all around, and are entirely cut in the solid rock below ground level and are entered by a flight of steps, also rock-cut. The peristyle is of the Doric order; each side of the court is decorated as a temple facade with Doric columns and an entablature of triglyphs and metopes. These tombs, which do not follow in the traditional tomb architecture of Cyprus, may have their prototypes in Alexandria. They date from Hellenistic times and were probably used for the burial of the Ptolemaic rulers of the island.

From the city site come a number of marble sculptures and inscriptions of the Hellenistic and Graeco-Roman period.

The finds are in the Nicosia and Paphos Museums.


D. G. Hogarth, Devia Cypria (1889); A. Sakellarios, Τὰ Κυπριακά I (1890); I. K. Peristianes, Γενικὴ Ἱστορία τῆς νήσου Κύπρου (1909); Jean Berard, “Recherches Archéologiques à Chypre dans la région de Paphos,” RA 43 (1954) 1-16MI; Jean Deshayes, “Chronique Archéologique, Les Fouilles Françaises de Ktima,” Syria 35 (1958), 412-21I; id., La Nécropole de Ktima (1963); V. Karageorghis, “Chronique de Fouilles et Découvertes Archéologiques à Chypre,” BCH 84 (1963) onwards; K. Nicolaou, “The Mosaics at Kato Paphos: The house of Dionysos,” Report of the Department of Antiquities, Cyprus (1963) 56-72MPI; id., “Excavations at Nea Paphos: The House of Dionysos. Outline of the Campaigns 1964-1965,” Report of the Department of Antiquities, Cyprus (1967) 100-125PI; id., Ancient Monuments of Cyprus (1968); id., Nea Paphos An Archaeological Guide (1970); W. A. Daszewski, “A preliminary report on the excavations of the Polish Archaeological Mission at Kato (Nea) Paphos in 1966 and 1967,” Report of the Department of Antiquities, Cyprus (1968) 33-61PI; id., “Polish Excavations at Kato Paphos, in 1968-1969,” Report of the Department of Antiquities, Cyprus (1970) 112-41MPI; id., “Polish Excavations at Kato (Nea) Paphos in 1970 and 1971,” Report of the Department of Antiquities, Cyprus (1972) 204-36.


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