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Salamis

The city of Salamis was founded during the migrations that started towards the end of the Bronze Age by the tribes that came from Anatolia, and Akas who came from Greece and joined them in Kilikya.

The founder of the city is Tefkros – the son of Telamon who was a Trojan hero and the king of Salamis island. After the Assyrian domination in 707 B.C., it is understood from the coins minted in 560 B.C. that the Salamis king Evelthon gained sovereignty over Cyprus.

The attempt by Kimon of Athens in 499 B. C. to put an end to Persian dominance of the island failed and upon the death of Kimon, the Athenians gave up on their plans to capture the island. Following this, the Phoenicians govern the island but a recession in trade and other fields starts. In 411 B.C. Evagoras, a descendant of Tefkros, seizes power in Salamis.

When he attempts to take over the whole of Cyprus, the Persians lay siege to Salamis where now the Salamis Bay Conti Hotel resides by, and force him to pay taxes to the Persian Kingdom. This state of affairs continues until the Iskender period. When Pyntagoras, the king of Salamis in this period, provides military aid to Iskender he gets rewarded by being given the city of Tamusus. After Iskender’s death, Salamis keeps falling into different hands all the time. Following the invasion of Cyprus by the Ptolemes under difficult conditions in 294 B.C., the islanders enjoy a period of calm and Salamis becomes the capital of the island. The prosperous conditions of the city continue during the Roman period as well.

The present ruins mostly belong to the Roman period. Under Roman rule, the city has a publicassembly, a senate, and a council of elders. The city suffers a lot of destruction because of earthquakes in 76 and 77 A.D. and during the Jewish riots in 116 A.D.. The city is then annexed to the Antioch province and since the harbour of Salamis becomes the first stop of Syrian ships, a period of prosperity starts. The earthquakes of 232 and 342 A.D., however, cause great destruction to the city once again.

The Byzantine emperor Konstantinus rebuilds the city on a smaller scale and names it after himself. The city replaces Paphos as the capital of Cyprus. The people of Salamis abandon the city in 647 A.D. because of the raids of Arabs and earhquakes and settle in the area now known as Famagusta. Architectural Remains The city-walls and the harbours In addition to the walls to the West, North and South of the city, a second wall has been discovered surrounding the inner city.

These walls are thought to have been built in the 7th century A.D. for protection against the Arab raids. To the South-east of the city lies the oldest harbour of Salamis. The North and South of this harbour was protected by man-made breakwaters. The second harbour used in the late Roman period, on the other hand is to the North of the city. Apart from these two, a third harbour used by Demetius is also mentioned in some sources.

 

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