Selected and rare materials, excerpts and observations from ancient, medieval and contemporary authors, travelers and researchers about Cyprus.
uses Google technology and indexes only and selectively internet - libraries having books with free public access

page 19

that there is hardly any trade in the island, for, in fact, where trade does not prevail, Israelite communities are never to be found. Under the dominion of Constantine the Great, Salamis became a town of considerable importance, from its commerce; it developed itself as mistress of the whole Mediterranean; its harbour was rich in exportations and a centre of the grain trade; so much so, that Salamis eventually became the wealthiest town in the island of Cyprus. It was, as recorded above, during the reign of the Emperor Constantine that Salamis was destroyed by earthquake, and the inhabitants rendered homeless and houseless. The Emperor assisted in the loan of the money required for the rebuilding, and the former residents constructed a new town out of the greater part of the ruined walls, in token of gratitude endowing the new city with the name of Constantia; but the new city in its turn fell a prey to subterranean disturbances, and is now lying in ruins. " From the middle of the seventh," says Von Loher, in Mrs. Joyner's excellent translation, "to the middle of the tenth" century, the hand of man caused fearful devastation. Hordes of pirates appeared upon the coast, who, landing at every available place, set fire to the towns and villages, and when the inhabitants fled to save themselves, laid hands on everything within their reach. Money and fruit, men and cattle—all were hurried on board their ships. Swiftly as they had come, they departed. In vain the fleet sent out by government endeavoured to follow them. " Among the islands and havens of the Grecian Archipelago concealment and shelter were easily obtained; the only resource was to place watchmen upon commanding points of the coast, from whence they could see to a distance, and to build towers and beacons, whence signals could be made by means of fire and smoke as soon as any suspicious craft made its appearance. On seeing this signal, all the inhabitants of the coast fled into the interior, taking their children and cattle and their money and valuables with them; and there they remained concealed until another signal from the watch men told them that the coast was clear. Next came robbers of a still worse description. The former only sought for what could be readily carried off in their ships; these others were land robbers. The pirates only struck down or burned what ever hindered them in their proceedings; the others destroyed for destruction's sake, and, collecting men like sheep, drove them into slavery. These were Arabs. From their sandy and rocky deserts, they brought with them a savage hatred against all religious edifices; which they leveled to the ground. It was now that the ancient buildings of Cyprus suffered. The old temples were reduced to ruins, the towns were destroyed, and everything Greek or Roman perished. The Arabs wished to establish their new Government in the island, and for this purpose they only required bare ground." It appears that the town, of Arsinoe was anterior in point of date to Salaminia, and from the former the town of Salamis was colonised. Among the ruins of Salamis a village gradually arose, and rapidly increased in size, which after wards acquired, as has already been said, the name of Con stantia.1 Upon the ruins of this, in its turn, the city of

1 The Istoria dì Cipro, by Florio Bustron {Brit. Mus. Add. MS. 8630), speaks of discoveries of antiquities in the author's day (seventeenth century) at Salamis. He says: " Near to Salamis was a town called Costanza or Costanzia, a large and strongly fortified town, and very rich, with fine palaces with marble columns. In removing the earth, there were found many medals in gold, silver, and copper; rings, earrings, necklaces, bracelets in gold and silver, and other ancient monuments in terra-cotta or stone. It is not very long ago that the tomb of St. Epiphanius was found with a Greek inscription. Now it is all in ruins, and people call these ruins Old Famagusta." The excavations, which I was the first to carry out on this site systematically, con firm this statement.

Famagusta was built. Famagusta, too, fell under the power of the Turks. In fact, the village of Varoscia, which represents it now, is daily spreading in size; and if Famagusta were gifted with a harbour by its new inhabitants, very soon a Victoria might arise upon the ancient site of Salamis.The ancient map of which I give a reproduction is derived from that of Abraham Ortelius, and shows very clearly the principal sites of antiquity in Cyprus. With respect to the extant maps of the island, I may refer to an article entitled, " The Cartography of Cyprus," in the Atlienœum, No. 2647, July 20, 1878, pp. 84, 85; in which the writer, after disproving the widespread belief as to general want of correct information on the matter, refers to the Recherches Scientifiques en Orient, entreprises par les Ordres du Gouverne ment (Français) pendant les Années 1853 et 1854, par M. Albert Gaudry, Paris, 1855, grand 8vo. In this work is contained the best information on Cyprus, as well as one of the best known and most elaborate maps of the island. The earliest detailed maps are of the sixteenth

Back to Topic