Age in Cyprus
merchants were responsible for the restoration of trade routes
and cultural contacts that had been severed during the fall of
the Late Bronze Age civilisations. The Phoenician homeland was a
loose confederation of half a dozen cities along the coast of
Lebanon. Nearby Cyprus with her rich woods and copper mines was
one of their first ports of call. By the mid-9th century B.C. a
Phoenician colony was already well established at Kition (modern
Larnaca), with small but influential trading communities in the
other emerging towns. As well as luxury goods for the royal
courts such as textiles, engraved gemstones, carved ivories,
metalwork, glass, paper and their famous purple cloth, the
Phoenicians brought with them another of their inventions, the
a century of its importation to Cyprus, the alphabet was being
used by the Greek-speaking settlers and those who still spoke the
language of the Cypriot Bronze Age. Amathus and Palea Paphos
were the strongholds of the latter and retained their shrines to
the old fertility goddess of the island, who was addressed as Astare
by the Phoenicians and Aphrodite by the Greeks.
In 709 B.C.
Sargon II of Assyria erected a stela at Kitium recording the
fact that seven Cypriot kings had paid him homage; subsequent
Assyrian documents speak of 11 tributary kingdoms, the seven
(Curium, Paphos, Marion, Soli, Lapithos, Salamis, and Amathus)
plus Kitium, Kyrenia, Tamassos, and Idalium.
subordination to Assyria, probably rather nominal lasted until
about 663 B.C. for the next hundred years Cyprus enjoyed a
period of complete independence and exuberant development.
Epic poetry was
greatly popular, as it had always been, and much was written on
the island; Stasinus of Cyprus, credited with the authorship of
the lost epic poem "Cypria", was reckoned among the
most important poets in this style in the 7th century B.C.
Bronze work and ironwork, a spirited style of ceramic
decoration, and delicate jewellery and ivory work are
characteristic of this period; among outstanding works are the
sumptuous ivory throne and bedstead excavated from a royal tomb
dated from about 700 B.C.