Friday, July 4, 2014

Salamis Archaeological Site

The Salamis Archaeological Site is located about 8 km from the city of Famagusta, within the Famagusta district of Northern Cyprus. 


According to tradition, Salamis was founded by Teucer (also known as Tefkros), who was the son of Telamon from the Salamis, Greece.  After the Trojan War ended, Teucer arrived in Cyprus, since wasn't allowed to return to his homeland.  

Over the years, this ancient coastal city was
ruled by Persians, Phoenicians, Ptolemeos, Romans, Byzantines, etc.  During ancient times, Salamis was the island's main port, as well as the capital largest city in Cyprus for about a thousand years.

The city of Salamis was destroyed and then, consequently, rebuilt several times.  The destruction occurred due to earthquakes in 76, the Jewish uprising in 116, earthquakes and tidal waves in 332 and 342, Arab raids from 647 to 649, and additional earthquakes in following years.

However, the city was mostly abandoned in 647 AD, when the people moved to settle in Famagusta.

During the Venetian period, Salamis was utilized as a source of building materials for the surrounding areas.  Eventually, shifting sands covered most of the city and protected it for over a thousand years.  Apparently, ninety percent of the city still remains buried underneath the sands today.

Excavations occurred in Salamis from 1952 until 1974, which mostly revealed ancient ruins from the Roman period.  However, there are still major areas awaiting excavation.  Salamis is considered one of the most important archaeological sites of the Mediterranean.

According to a sign at the site, "The ancient city of Salamis was one of the most opulent cities of Cyprus during the classical antiquity.  Archaeological excavations undertaken at Salamis show that the history of the settlement dates back to as early as the 11th century BC.  Archaeologists believe that Salamis was first established by newcomers from the nearby site of Enkomi following the earthquake on 1075 BC.  Salamis emerged as an important commercial center towards the end of the 8th century BC, which was apparently due to the strategic location of the site site within the wider maritime network of trade that prevailed in this period in the Mediterranean World....  The city mint its own coin in the 5th century BC....  Two major earthquakes in 332 and 342 AD devastated much of the city.  The Byzantine Emperor Constantius II rebuilt the city and renamed in Constantia.  Because the harbor of the city was almost silted up in the city, the commercial importance of the city gradually started to decline in the 4th century AD and onwards....the last inhabitants of Salamis moved to Arsinoe in 648."    

Even though most of the city still remains buried, there are several ancient ruins to explore within the Salamis Archaeological Site.  Some of these ruins include the following: Gymnasium-Bath Complex, Amphitheater, Roman Theater, Colonnaded Street, Fish Market, Roman Bath, Water Reservoir, Forum-Agora, Temple of Zeus, Basilica of Saint Epiphanos, Granite Forum, Byzantine Walls, Building with Olive Oil Mill, Basilica of Campanopetra, Roman Villa, etc. 

The Gymnasium-Bath Complex includes various baths, swimming pools, and a Columned Courtyard.  Some of the baths are the Sudatorium (hot baths), the Caldarium (steam bath), and the Frigidarium (cold baths) with mosaics on the existing walls.  The Columned Courtyard was used as an exercising ground. 

The Amphitheater was built by Romans and then destroyed during an earthquake in the 6th century, and it's still mostly in ruins.

The Roman Theater was built over 2,000 years ago, during the reign of Emperor Augustus, to hold 15,000 spectators in 50 rows of seats, but it was destroyed by earthquakes in the 4th century.  Today, the smaller restored theater is used as a venue during summer months.

The Water Reservoir utilized a system of earthen pipes on a 50 km aqueduct that brought water to the city.  This Roman period water system functioned until the 7th century.

The Hellenistic and Roman Forum-Agora was used as a meeting place and market for the city of Salamis.

The Temple of Zeus consists of the ancient remains of a Greco-Roman temple.

The Basilica of Saint Epiphanos (also known as Ayios Epiphanios Basilica) was built during the 4th century, and this Byzantine building served as the metropolitan church of Salamis.  This church was once the largest church in Cyprus, and it was destroyed in the 7th century during the Arab raids.

The Basilica of Campanopetra (also known as the Kampanopetra Basilica) was an Early Christian Basilica that was built in the 4th century, and it was once of the largest churches in Cyprus.

The Necropolis of Salamis, which is about 7 km west of the Salamis Archaeological Site, includes the Royal Tombs.  It's situated near the Saint Barnabas Monastery, which has an archaeological museum featuring ancient artifacts from the Salamis Archaeological Site, such as marble statues from the Salamis gymnasium and theater.

The Salamis Archaeological Site is a delightful and intriguing place to explore, and it's one of my favorite archaeological sites throughout the island.

Site: Salamis Archaeological Site. 

Category: Archaeological Site. 

Location: About 8 km from the city of Famagusta, within the Famagusta district of Northern Cyprus.

Phone Number: 3662864. 

Operating Hours: 9:00 AM to 5:00 PM on Monday to Sunday, during winter months. 9:00 AM to 7:00 PM on Monday to Sunday, during summer months. 

Entrance Fee: €2,50. 

Date of Visit: 2013.

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