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date: 02 December 2022



  • Hector Catling


  • Greek Material Culture: Bronze Age

Paphos, city-kingdom of SW Cyprus. (1) Palaepaphos (mod. Kouklia) built on a bluff near the coast, site of a famous sanctuary of Aphrodite, by tradition born nearby of sea-foam. Alternative cult-founders are the pre-Greek Cinyras, ambivalent friend of Agamemnon, (the Paphos royal house was Cinyrad throughout its history) and Agapenor of Tegea, post-Trojan War settler. Archaeology supports both traditions. The first temple (pillar-hall and temenos) is of 12th-cent. bce date; contemporary tombs nearby contain imported and local Mycenaean pottery (see mycenaean civilization). 11th-cent. chamber tombs suggest actual Aegean colonization; so does a grave-gift inscribed in the Cypriot syllabary (see pre-greek languages) with the Greek name Opheltes. Little remains of the early-iron-age and Archaic city, only its cemeteries. At the (excavated) NE gate in the Archaic defences are Persian siege works of 498 bce, rich in debris (sculpture etc. ) from a destroyed extra-mural sanctuary. The Archaic-Hellenistic Aphrodite temples are lost; a sanctuary complex of c.ce 100 replaced one destroyed in the ce 76–7 earthquake. Its plan hardly matches depictions of the sanctuary and its aniconic cult figure on 1st–2nd-cent. ce coins. Though its sanctuary was still renowned in Hellenistic and Roman times (many dedications by foreign grandees, including the future emperor Titus) from the 4th cent. bce, the city was replaced by (2) Nea Paphos, a harbour city 16 km. north-west, apparently founded c.320 bce by the last king, Nicocles. The port and ship-building resources were strategically important to the Diadochi; under the Ptolemies (see ptolemy(1)) it became, and remained, the island's capital, at the expense of Salamis (2) (traces of its mint, and a nomophylakeion, are known). Though the Hellenistic city is concealed by the Roman, Alexandrian influence is clear in its cemetery of rock-cut peristyle atrium tombs. Three huge Roman mansions with excellent 3rd-cent. floor-mosaics are partly excavated.


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  • T. B. Mitford, Annual of the British School at Athens 1961, 1 ff.
  • K. Nikolaou, Mélanges Michaelowski (1966), 561 ff.
  • W. A. Daszewski, Report of the Department of Antiquities, Cyprus, 1987, 171 ff.
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  • F. G. Maier and V. Karageorghis, Paphos: History and Archaeology (1984).
  • F. G. Maier, Cambridge Ancient History 62 (1994), 300 ff.
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  • M. H. Hansen and T. H. Nielsen (eds.), An Inventory of Archaic and Classical Poleis (2004) no. 1019.