Selected and rare materials, excerpts and observations from ancient, medieval and contemporary authors, travelers and researchers about Cyprus.
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The Sanctuary of Aphrodite

SIR SAMUEL WHITE BAKER. Cyprus, as I saw it in 1879.
London, Macmillan and Co., 1879

The little insignificant harbour exhibited a few small craft of about twenty tons. There was a small fort and a British flag ; there were also the ruins of ancient Paphos ; but there was nothing to denote progress or commercial activity. In the afternoon Captain Wauchope was kind enough to accompany us over the ruins. As I have before explained, there is nothing of interest upon the surface of ancient cities throughout Cyprus. Anything worth having has been appropriated many ages since by those who understood its value, and beyond a few fallen columns and blocks of squared stone there is literally nothing to attract attention. Even General di Cesnola excavated in vain upon the site of ancient Paphos, which from its great antiquity promised an abundant harvest. There were two fine monoliths, the bases of which, resting upon a foundation of squared stones, appeared as though they had formed the entrance to a temple ; these were pillars of grey granite (foreign to Cyprus) about twenty even feet high and three feet two inches in diameter.
There were stony mounds in many directions, and fallen pillars and columns of granite and of coarse grey and whitish marble ; but beyond these ordinary vestiges there was nothing of peculiar interest. As there is no authority equal to General di Cesnola upon the antiquities of Cyprus, I trust he will excuse me for inserting the following interesting extract from his work, upon The Great Centre of the Worship of Venus :

"Although this spot [Paphos] was the scene of great religious events, and was otherwise important in the island, yet neither are there more than a very few ruins existing above ground, nor have the explorations I have directed there at different times succeeded in bringing to light anything of interest. I believe that this absence of ruins can be accounted for in the following manner. Paphos was several times overthrown by earthquakes. The last time the temple was rebuilt was by Vespasian, on whose coins it is represented ; but as nothing is said of the rebuilding of the city it is supposed that it was left in ruins ; probably therefore during the long period that Cyprus was under the Roman and the Byzantine rule a great deal of the decorative and architectural material of Paphos was transported to the other city called Nea-Paphos, and used for its embellishment. In the Acts of the Apostles it is spoken of as the official residence of the Roman proconsul Paulus Sergius, and was therefore the capital of the island. By the time of the Lusignan kings Paleo-Paphos had disappeared, and its' ruins under their reign were extensively explored in search of statuary and other objects of art, with which  to decorate the royal castle built in its vicinity. There is scarcely any ancient tomb to be found of a date previous to the Roman period which had not been opened centuries ago." In page 207 General di Cesnola gives an illustration of "stone feet with a Cypriote inscription, from the temple of Paphos," which would suggest from their appearance that gout was not uncommon even within the. temple of Venus. In continuation he writes, page 210 :

" The great temple of Venus was situated on an eminence, which at present is at a distance of about twenty-five minutes' walk from the sea. Some parts of its colossal walls are still standing, defying time and the stone-cutter, though bady chipped by the latter. One of the wall-stones measured fifteen feet ten inches in length, by seven feet eleven inches in width and two feet five inches in thickness. The stone is not from Cyprus, but being a kind of blue granite, must have been imported either from Cilicia or from Egypt.
The temple as rebuilt by Vespasian seems to have occupied the same area as the former temple, and was surrounded by a peribolos, or outer wall. Of this a