Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Amathus Archaeological Site

The Amathus Archaeological Site (also known as the Amathous Archaeological Site and the Amathounta Archaeological Site) is located east of the city of Limassol, within the Limassol district of Cyprus.

Amathus was considered one of the most important cities in ancient Cyprus, as well as one of the largest cities.  The ancient ruins of Amathus are scattered throughout the area, including the hillside, seaside, and even under the sea.  However, today, there are modern buildings mixed amongst many of the ancient ruins.

According to tradition, the ancient city of Amathus was named after Amathusa, the mother of King Kinyras from Paphos.  However, the exact time period when the city was founded is unknown.

According to a sign at the Amathus Archaeological Site, during the 11th century BC, "First occupation of the site, probably by Eteocypriots (pre-Greek population) driven away from Pafos by the first Greek settlers.  These Eteocypriots must have brought along their language and probably their religion to Amathus."

Over the centuries, Amathus was conquered and ruled by Eteocyprians, Greeks, Phoenicians, Persians, Ptolemies, Romans, Byzantines, etc.  In 77-78 AD, an earthquake destroyed the ancient city of Amathus.  However, Amathus was rebuilt, yet later destroyed by raids in 649-691 AD.  In the 7th century, the already struggling city of Amathus was further destroyed and later abandoned within the 7th century.

While the city of Amathus declined, the tombs were plundered and stones from the edifices were transported to Limassol for construction purposes.  Eventually, Amathus was destroyed and abandoned.  The city of Limassol was most likely built after Amathus had been destroyed.

In 1893 and 1894, the first major excavations at Amathus occurred, under the leadership of British archaeologists, A.H. Smith and J.L. Myres.  The Cypriot Department of Antiquities continued the excavations in 1969, until the French School of Athens started excavations in 1975.

The central city of Amathus has two main levels: the lower (agora) and upper city (acropolis), as well as ancient ruins throughout the surrounding area.

The official Amathus Archaeological Site is the city's lower level, which includes the Agora, Public Baths, Fountain Complex, etc.

The Amathus Agora (market) dates back to the Hellenistic period.  This ancient Agora consisted of a large rectangular stone-paved area with porticoes on three sides and an open fourth side that lead towards the city's main road.  Along the west portico, there were rooms utilized as shops, and a large square fountain in the center of the Agora.

During ancient times, the city's agora was the traditional place for commercial and political activities, and many buildings surrounding the Agora played a vital role in the public life of the city.  Near the Agora, there are ancient ruins that seem to have been important administrative buildings.

The Amathus Public Baths are from the Hellenistic and Roman time periods.  The Hellenistic Baths are situated south of the Agora and consist of a circular building, while the Roman Baths are situated in a small building behind the east portico of the Agora.

Behind the Byzantine wall, there's the Palace of Amathus, which was built in the 8th century BC and destroyed around 300 BC. 

The Amathus Archaeological Site is a lovely site to explore, and there will be more Amathus ancient ruins featured in upcoming blog posts, including the Amathus Ruins at Acropolis Hill and the Amathus Seafront Pathways. 

Site: Amathus Archaeological Site. 

Category: Archaeological Site. 

Location: About 10 km east of the city of Limassol, within the Limassol district of Cyprus. 

Phone Number: 25635226. 

Operating Hours: 8:30 AM to 5:00 PM on Monday to Sunday, during winter months.  8:30 AM to 7:30 PM on Monday to Sunday, during summer months. 

Entrance Fee: €2,50. 

Date of Visit: 2010-2013.

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