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Salamis, Cyprus
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Salamis, Cyprus

Salamis is an ancient city on the east coast of Cyprus, at the mouth of the river Pedieos, 6 km North of Gazimaguşa;. The earliest finds go back to the 11th century (Late Bronze Age III). Children's burials in Canaanite jars indicate a Phoenician presence. The town is mentioned in Assyrian inscriptions as one of the kingdoms of Ia'.

The mythical founder of Salamis is Teucer, son of Telamon who could not return home after the Trojan war because he had failed to avenge his brother Aias.

In 450 BC Salamis was the site of a simultaneous land and sea battle between Athens and the Persians. (This is not to be confused with the earlier Battle of Salamis in 480 BC between the Greeks and the Persians in Attica.)

The most important ruler of the kingdom of Salamis was Evagoras (410-374 BC), who became ruler of the whole island, and won its independence from the Persian Empire. Salamis was afterwards besieged and conquered by Artaxerxes III.

Salamis was the site of a naval victory of Demetrios Poliorketes over Ptolemy I, but in the end Ptolemy became ruler of Cyrus. He forced the last king of Salamis, Nikokreon, who had been the Ptolemaic governor of the island, to commit suicide in 311 BC, because he did not trust him any more. Nikokreon is supposed to be buried in one of the big tumuli near Enkomi. Salamis remained seat of the governor.

In Roman times, Salamis was part of the Roman province of Cilicia. The seat of the governor was relocated to Paphos. The town suffered heavily during the Jewish rising of AD 116/117. Several earthquakes led to the destruction of Salamis at the beginning of the 4th century. The town was rebuilt under the name of Constantia by Constantine II and became episcopal seat. The town was finally abandoned during the Arab invasions of the 7th century AD after destructions by Muawija.

There are very extensive ruins. The amphitheatre, and the gymnasium have been extensively restored. There are baths, public latrines (for 44 users), various little bits of mosaic, a harbour wall, a Roman agora and much more including a number of statues, most of which are headless, destroyed by religious believers.

Byzantine remains include an aquaeduct and the basilica of Epiphanos (AD 367-403).

Further reading