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CIA Factbook

Neolithic to Bronze Age Settlement of Cyprus:

Neolithic Cyprus: Humans have lived in Cyprus from 5800 B.C., during the Neolithic Era.

Bronze Age: Copper was discovered around 3000 B.C. This made Cyprus important for trade during the Bronze Age. The famous Cypriot (adjectival form of Cyprus) fertility figures (or goddesses) are from this period. Minoan traders developed a script for communication with the Cypriots. Thutmose III invaded Egypt around 1500 B.C.

Greek Traders and Settlers:

From around 1400 B.C., Mycenaeans and Mycenaean-Achaeans from the Peloponnesus began to establish trade with and send settlers to Cyprus.

The Greeks used their own script for commerce and introduced the potter's wheel. Since this time, the culture of Cyprus has been mostly Greek.

Phoenician Settlement in Cyprus:

During the first millennium B.C., the city of Kition (modern Larnaca) was settled by Phoenicians. The Phoenicians may have established contact much earlier. [See Phoenicians in Carthage.]

Assyrians in Cyprus:

Sargon II of Assyria conquered Cyprus in 708 B.C. Assyrians dominated the 7 independent kingdoms of the island for the next century. Egypt took over when the Assyrian power waned. By this time, there were 10 city-kingdoms on Cyprus.

Persians and Cyprus:

After the Egyptians, the Persians ruled Cyprus as a satrapy (a province governed by the king's representative). Salamis became the dominant kingdom. The others were Amathus, Kition, Kyrenia, Lapithos, Kourion, Marion, Paphos, Soli, and Tamassos. Salamis' King Onesilos died in revolt against the Persians in 498 B.C.

Uniting of Cyprus:

In 411 B.C. Evagoras became king of Salamis and allied all of the Cypriot kingdoms with Athens against Persia. He also brought the Greek alphabet to replace the syllabary of Cyprus. The Persians were able to dissolve this union.

Freedom of Cyprus:

Alexander the Great brought freedom to Cyprus when he defeated the Persians in 333 B.C. When the Cypriots helped Alexander at the siege of Tyre, the city-kingdoms were rewarded with their autonomy. After the death of Alexander, they lost autonomy; Ptolemy became their ruler.

Roman Annexation of Cyprus:

In 58 B.C., Rome annexed Cyprus as part of the province of Cilicia. Cilicia was where St. Paul's hometown of Tarsus was located. Plutarch says the pirates at the time of Pompey came to power in Cilicia and the great Roman orator Cicero was governor of Cilicia. Cyprus was divided into 4 districts (Amathus, Lapithos, Paphos, and Salamis) and governed by a proconsul.


In time the supremacy of Salamis was supplanted by Paphos, when Paphos became the seat of government. When an earthquake destroyed much of Salamis in 15 B.C., Augustus rebuilt it.

Religion / Worship:

Aphrodite, the Greek goddess of love and beauty, was born from the island's sea foam. Her most important shrine was in Paphos.


Christianity was introduced during the reign of Claudius when the apostle Paul and Barnabus landed in Salamis. They converted the Roman proconsul to Christianity, making Cyprus the first area of Rome to be governed by a Christian.

More About Cyprus

Cyprus is the third largest Mediterranean island (after Sicily and Sardinia).
This profile of ancient Cyprus is an adaptation of the LOC Country Studies - Cyprus.

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