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The Princeton Encyclopedia of Classical Sites

Salamis

  On the E coast of the island, ca. 6.5 km N of Famagusta. The ruins occupy an extensive area, ca. 150 ha, along the shore and for a considerable depth now covered by sand dunes and a forest. The harbor lies to the S near the mouth of the river Pedhiaios. Traces of the city wall of the archaic period have recently been discovered to the S. The vast necropolis lies in the plain W of the city and extends towards the villages of Enkomi, Haghios Serghios, and the Monastery of St. Barnabas.
  The traditional founder was Teukros, son of Telamon, king of the Greek island of Salamis and one of the heroes of the Trojan War. He was also the founder of the Temple of Zeus Salaminios and the ancestor of its dynasty of priest-kings. A sepulchral epigram to him exists among those on the Homeric heroes. The dynasty of Teukridai ruled for a long time and even the kings of later times claimed descent from Teukros. This dynasty of priest-kings lasted down to the time of Augustus.
  Salamis must have succeeded the Mycenaean city of Enkomi, ca. 2 km further inland, sometime in the 11th c. B.C. probably when the harbor of the latter was silted up. This earlier theory has now been corroborated by the recent discovery within Salamis itself of a Protogeometric tomb, and of 11th c. sherds found at the S sector of the city.
  Salamis was the most important city in Cyprus and King Euelthon (560-525 B.C.) claimed to be ruler of the whole island. He was the first king of Cyprus to issue coins, and his silver staters of Persic standard show on the obverse a lying ram with the reverse at first smooth and then with an ankh. His name appears on the obverse in syllabic script.
  His grandson Gorgos was reigning at the time of the Ionian Revolt (499-498 B.C.) but refused to rise against the Persians, so he was overthrown by his younger brother Onesilos, who succeeded in liberating most of the island for a while. Onesilos, however, fell in the battle that ensued on the plain of Salamis, and the Cypriots, after a year of freedom, were "again enslaved to Persia" (Hdt. 5.104, 108-15).
  The most important of all the kings of Salamis, however, was Euagoras I (411-374-373 B.C.) for whom Isocrates wrote an oration (Evagoras). In an attempt to liberate Cyprus from the Persians Euagoras met with little resistance. He was a close ally of Athens and received much military help but in spite of all his initial successes he was forced to submit to the Great King although he did retain his throne as king of Salamis. Euagoras remained throughout his reign a friend of Athens and under his philhellenic policy Greek philosophers, artists, and musicians enjoyed the patronage of his court.
  As a result of the Wars of the Successors Salamis was in 306 B.C. the scene of heavy fighting, both on land and sea, between Demetrios Poliorketes and Ptolemy I Soter for the possession of the city. It finally fell to Ptolemy, who soon took possession of the whole island. The city continued to flourish in Hellenistic and Graeco-Roman times and was embellished with important public buildings. During the Ptolemaic rule Salamis ceded its place to Paphos as the leading city of the island sometime in the 2d c. B.C. but in the 4th c. A.D. Salamis, now called Constantia, had once more superseded Paphos as the metropolis of Cyprus. The city became in Early Christian times the seat of a bishop and continued to flourish down to Early Byzantine times when it was gradually abandoned after the first Arab raids of 647 A.D.
  The principal monuments uncovered towards the end of the 19th c., and again recently, include the gymnasium, the baths, the theater, the reservoir, the agora, the Temple of Zeus Olympios, part of the city wall, two Early Christian basilican churches and the Royal Tombs. Most of the ruins of this large city, however, remain unexcavated.
  The Graeco-Roman gymnasium, originally built in Hellenistic times, was probably destroyed in the 4th c. A.D. earthquakes, after which it was restored as public baths. The central court, the palaistra, measuring 50 x 38 m and paved with opus sectile, is surrounded on all four sides by monolithic marble columns crowned by Corinthian capitals of various types which were salvaged from other derelict buildings when the gymnasium became the baths. The present columns originally carried arches of stone to support the roof which covered the portico. When first excavated this gymnasium was thought to be a marble forum.
  The entrance to the gymnasium was through the S portico. On the step between the entrance columns is an inscription of the Hellenistic gymnasium. In the central part of the W wing, behind the portico, is a semicircular platform the floor of which lies about one m above the level of the floor of the portico. At the S end of this wing lie the gymnasium's latrines, a semicircular structure with a roof supported on columns; it had facilities for about 44 persons.
  The E portico is larger and furnished with fluted columns higher than those along the other three sides of the court. At the N end of this portico, steps lead up into the N annex with a rectangular pool which replaced an earlier circular one. The sculptures now grouped there come from other parts of the gymnasium. In the middle of the E portico was found the marble altar of the gymnasiarch Diagoras, son of Teukros, in the 2d c. A.D. style. The large group of buildings to the E belongs to the period of the baths. There are still, in a relatively good state of preservation, hypocausts, sudatoria, caldaria, praefurnia, and large halls with niches decorated with mosaics, among others one depicting the river Eurotas and another Apollo slaying the children of Niobe.
  The theater was built early in the Imperial period, probably during the reign of Augustus, but was repaired and remodeled during the 1st and 2d c. A.D. It has a semicircular orchestra measuring about 27 m in diameter; its cavea, measuring 104 m in diameter, consisted originally of over 50 rows of seats with a capacity of about 15,000 spectators. Of the stage-building little survives and the cavea has been restored in its greater part.
  The stage-building consists of two parallel walls measuring ca. 40 m in length. The span between them, ca. 5 m, was covered with wooden planks at a height of ca. 2 m above the level of the orchestra. Rectangular colonettes offered additional supports to this wooden platform on which the actors performed. This was the proscenium, the facade of which was decorated with frescoes, traces of which survive in one of its niches. The back wall of the proscenium is a massive structure which supported the scenae frons; this was richly decorated with columns, statues, and honorific inscriptions. The theater, ca. 100 m to the S of the gymnasium, was connected with the latter by a colonnaded paved street.
  Towards the S of the city is a group of buildings composed of the main reservoir, the agora and the Temple of Zeus Olympios. The reservoir adjoining the agora to the N consists of a large rectangle which had a vaulted roof supported on 39 piers in three rows. This is assigned to the reign of Septimius Severus and it appears that it was supplied with water from the spring at Kythrea some 56 km away. Traces of the aqueduct can still be seen in the plain between the village of Haghios Serghios and Salamis. Repairs to this aqueduct were made as late as the Early Byzantine period.
  The Graeco-Roman agora between the reservoir and the Temple of Zeus Olympios measures 217 x 60 m. Considerable remains survive of the stone colonnades extending on either side of the central open space. The stone drums stood ca. 8.20 m high at intervals of 4.60 m and carried Corinthian capitals. Behind the two long porticos were rows of shops. On the S side of the agora lies the Temple of Zeus Olympios, originally built in Hellenistic times. The temple stands on a high stylobate and has a square cella at the rear. Fallen column-drums and Corinthian capitals of a considerable size suggest an impressive building.
  Trial trenches at the S sector of Salamis near the harbor brought to light the existence of a complete system of defenses consisting of many parallel walls. The lower course of the walls was of stone, while the upper part was built of mudbricks. The city defenses at this point run E-W along the edge of the plateau, which overlooks the harbor. This circuit has been provisionally dated to the end of the Geometric and to the archaic period.
  Substantial remains of the breakwaters of the harbor near the mouth of the river Pediaios still survive; however, most of the harbor itself has silted up.
  Tombs dating from Late Geometric to Graeco-Roman times are known in the vast necropolis W of Salamis, but the most important of these are the archaic Royal Tombs, a number of which were excavated in recent years (1956 onwards). Unfortunately only the dromoi were found intact, the burial chambers having been looted long ago. The characteristic features of these tombs are their large dromoi, and their Homeric burial customs. One of these tombs, Tomb 50, is the so-called Prison or Tomb of Haghia Haikaterini. The sloping dromos, measuring 28 x 13 m, had its sides revetted with well-dressed stones. The skeletons of two yoked horses, their iron bits still in their mouths, and several vases were found in the dromos. The tomb in its original form dates from the 7th c. B.C.
  Tomb 79 lies to the S of the Tomb of Haghia Haikaterini, and is beyond doubt the wealthiest tomb found thus far at Salamis. The chamber was built, like that of the tomb of Haghia Haikaterini, of two very large blocks of stone, rectangular in shape and with a gable roof. In front of the chamber there was a kind of propylaeum. This tomb dates from the end of the 8th c. B.C. but was reused in the 7th c. and still later during the Graeco-Roman period, so that the chamber was found looted of its earlier contents. The dromos, however, remained intact and its excavation proved most rewarding. The 8th c. burial was associated with the sacrifice of horses, and a chariot and a hearse were found in the dromos. In addition to the pottery the tomb furniture included three ivory chairs, of which only one was in fairly good condition, ivory plaques with relief decoration, a large bronze cauldron standing on an iron tripod decorated around the rim with griffin heads, bird-men, and sphinxes; also various bronze horse-bits, such as frontlets, blinkers, and breastplates, all decorated with figure representations. The 7th c. burial was also associated with chariot and horse burials.
  A number of rock-cut tombs were recently excavated due S of the Royal Tombs. These tombs were enclosed by a peribolos wall. Of particular interest is the discovery of pyres in the dromos on which clay figurines and fruit were offered in honor of the dead. This custom was known in ancient Greek religion as pankarpia or panspermia. Several infant burials made in jars were brought to light. The jars are as a rule of Rhodian import but two came from Attica. The furniture of the tombs includes a number of beautiful vases of the 7th c. B.C. decorated with lotus flowers, alabaster vases, bronze mirrors, gold jewelry, seals, and scarabs.
  Half-way between the Salamis forest and the Monastery of St. Barnabas, in the middle of the plain, lies a large tumulus of soil, Tomb 3. Above the tumulus traces of a beehive construction have been found, probably a reminiscence of the Mycenaean tholos tomb. The dromos measures 29 x 6 m. Remains of two chariots have been found in it. The four horses which drew the chariots were sacrificed with all their trappings. Various weapons were found including an iron sword, .92 m in length. The border of the broad tang was of silver soldered on the iron by means of copper. This tomb dates from ca. 600 B.C.
  Another tumulus, Tomb 77, is to be seen close to the outskirts of the village of Enkomi. This one, however, dates from the end of the Classical period. Under the tumulus was an exedra of rectangular shape, built of mudbricks and measuring 17 x 11.50 m. Almost at the center of the exedra was found a large pyre in which were, among other objects, a number of fragments of life-size statues made of unbaked clay but hardened by fire. Among the five heads found, two seem to be portraits. Their style dates them to the end of the 4th c. B.C. These heads are acrolithic and there is evidence that they were mounted on wooden posts at the time of the funerary ceremony. No traces of burial have been found and the conclusion has been reached that this was a cenotaph, probably of Nikokreon, the last king of Salamis, who committed suicide with the members of his family in 311 B.C. and was buried under the ruins of the burnt palace because he would not submit to Ptolemy.
  From the Hellenistic and Graeco-Roman necropolis come a number of funerary inscriptions. The finds are in the Nicosia and Famagusta Museums.

K. Nicolaou, ed.
This text is from: The Princeton encyclopedia of classical sites, Princeton University Press 1976. Cited Nov 2002 from Perseus Project URL below, which contains bibliography & interesting hyperlinks.


Greek & Roman Geography (ed. William Smith)

Salamis

  Salamin, Salamias, Malala, Eth. Salaminios. A city on the E. coast of Cyprus, 18 M. P. from Tremithus, and 24 M. P. from Chytri. (Peut. Tab.) Legend assigned its foundation to the Aeacid Teucer, whose fortunes formed the subject of a tragedy by Sophocles, called Teukros, and of one with a similar title by Pacuvius. (Cic. de Orat. i. 58, ii. 46.) The people of Salamis showed the tomb of the archer Teucer (Aristot. Anthologia, i. 8, 112), and the reigning princes at the time of the Ionic revolt were Greeks of the Teucrid Gens, although one of them bore the Phoenician name of Siromus (Hiram). (Herod. v. 104.) In the 6th century B.C. Salamis was already an important town, and in alliance with the Battiad princes of Cyrene, though the king Evelthon refused to assist in reinstating Arcesilaus III. upon the throne. (Herod. iv. 162.) The descendant of this Evelthon -the despot Gorgus- was unwilling to join in the Ionic revolt, but his brother Onesilus shut him out of the gates, and taking the command of the united forces of Salamis and the other cities, flew to arms. The battle which crushed the independence of Cyprus was fought under the walls of Salamis, which was compelled to submit to its former lord, Gorgus. (Herod. v. 103, 104, 108, 110.) Afterwards it was besieged by Anaxicrates, the successor of Cimon, but when the convention was made with the Persians the Athenians did not press the siege. (Diod. xii. 13.) After the peace of Antalcidas the Persians had to struggle for ten years with all their forces against the indefatigable and gentle Evagoras. Isocrates composed a panegyric of this prince addressed to his son Nicocles, which, with every allowance for its partiality, gives an interesting picture of the struggle which the Hellenic Evagoras waged against the Phoenician and Oriental influence under which Salamis and Cyprus had languished. (Comp. Grote, Hist. of Greece, vol. x. c. lxxvi.) Evagoras with his son Pnytagoras was assassinated by a eunuch, slave of Nicocreon (Aristot. Pol. v. 8. § 10; Diodor. xv. 47; Theopomp. Fr. iii. ed. Didot), and was succeeded by another son of the name of Nicocles. The Graeco-Aegyptian fleet under Menelaus and his brother Ptolemy Soter was utterly defeated off the harbour of Salamis in a seafight, the greatest in all antiquity, by Demetrius Poliorcetes, B.C. 306. (Diodor. xx. 45-53.) The famous courtezan Lamia formed a part of the booty of Demetrius, over whom she soon obtained unbounded influence. Finally, Salamis came into the hands of Ptolemy. (Plut. Demetr. 35; Polyaen. Strateg. 5.) Under the Roman Empire the Jews were numerous in Salamis (Acts, xiii. 6), where they had more than one synagogue. The farming of the copper mines of the island to Herod (Joseph, Antiq. xv. 14. § 5) may have swelled the numbers who were attracted by the advantages of its harbour and trade, especially its manufactures of embroidered stuffs. (Athen. ii. p. 48.) In the memorable revolt of the Jews in the reign of Trajan this populous city became a desert. (Milman, Hist. of the Jews, vol. iii. pp. 111, 112.) Its demolition was completed by an earthquake; but it was rebuilt by a Christian emperor, from whom it was named CONSTANTIA It was then the metropolitan see of the island. Epiphanius, the chronicler of the heretical sects, was bishop of Constantia in A.D. 367. In thle reign of Heraclius the new town was destroyed by the Saracens.
  The ground lies low in the neighbourhood of Salamis, and the town was situated on a bight of the coast to the N. of the river Pediaeus. This low land is the largest plain--SALAMINIA--in Cyprus, stretching inward between the two mountain ranges to the very heart of the country where the modern Turkish capital--Nicosia--is situated. In the Life and Epistles of St. Paul, by Coneybeare and Howson (vol. i. p. 169), will be found a plan of the harbour and ruins of Salamis, from the survey made by Captain Graves. For coins of Salamis, see Eckhel, vol. iii. p. 87.

This text is from: Dictionary of Greek and Roman Geography (1854) (ed. William Smith, LLD). Cited June 2004 from The Perseus Project URL below, which contains interesting hyperlinks


The Catholic Encyclopedia

Salamis

Salamis, a titular see in Cyprus. Salamis was a maritime town on the eastern coast of Cyprus, situated at the end of a fertile plain between two mountains, near the River Pediaeus. It was already an important centre in the sixth century B.C. Its foundation is attributed to Teucer, son of Telamon, King of the Island of Salamis, opposite Attica; others believe it to be of Phoenician origin and derive its name from the Semitic selom, peace. Its fine harbour, its location, and fortifications made it the chief city of the island. In the sixth century B.C. it had kings, allies of the princes of Cyrene; one of them, Gorgus, refused to join in the Ionian revolt, and was expelled by his brother, who took command of the troops of Salamis and the other cities; the battle was fought before Salamis, which fell again into the power of Gorgus. It was besieged by Anexicrates, the successor of Cimon. After the peace of Antacidas, the Persians had to fight for ten years against the valiant king Evagoras, whose panegyric was composed by Isocatres. It was at Salamis in 306 B.C. that the greatest naval battle of antiquity was fought, Demetrius I, Poliorcetes, defeating the Graeco-Egyptian fleet of Ptolemy I. In 295 B.C. Salamis passed under the sway of the kings of Egypt, and in 58 B.C. under that of Rome, at which time it possessed all the eastern portion of the island. When St. Paul landed at Salamis with Barnabas and John, surnamed Mark, returning from Seleucia, there were several synagogues, and it was there he began the conversion of the island (Acts, xiii, 5). Salamis was destroyed by earthquakes, and was rebuilt by Constantius II (337-61), who called it Constantia. It was destroyed by the Arabs in 647 or 648. Its unimportant ruins are near the village of Hagios Sergios, a little north of Famagusta. After its destruction the inhabitants and clergy betook themselves to Famagusta, which became and for a long time remained the residence of the archbishops. At present they reside at Nicosia. In the article on Cyprus are mentioned the principal bishops of Salamis or Constantia; the list of these prelates is given in Le Quien, "Oriens christianus", II, 1043 seq., and more fully in Hackett, "A History of the Orthodox Church of Cyprus" (London, 1901), 651.

S. Petrides, ed.
Transcribed by: Stan Walker
This text is cited June 2004 from The Catholic Encyclopedia, New Advent online edition URL below.


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Salamis in Cyprus


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