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The Catholic Encyclopedia
- The Catholic Encyclopedia (1908)
The Princeton Encyclopedia of Classical Sites
In W Cyprus, ca. 1.5 km from the sea, some 16 km SE of Nea Paphos.
The ruins cover a large area, part of which is now occupied by the modern village
of Kouklia. A vast necropolis extends NE, E, and S of the city. Palaipaphos or
simply Paphos was the capital of the kingdom of Paphos and the celebrated center
of the cult of Aphrodite.
The traditional founder of Paphos was Agapenor, king of Tegea in Arkadia
in the Peloponnese, who founded the Temple of Aphrodite in that city.
According to another legend, the cult of Aphrodite was established
earlier by Kinyras, the proverbial king of Paphos or of all Cyprus, who, as the
Iliad tells us, sent to Agamemnon a notable cuirass when he heard of the expedition
against Troy. The priest-kings of Paphos traced their origin to Kinyras, and a
dynasty called the Kinyradai ruled Paphos down to Ptolemaic times.
The Temple of Aphrodite was the most notable sacred edifice in Cyprus
and the most famous Temple of Aphrodite in the ancient world. There, according
to tradition, Aphrodite first set foot upon the shore after having been born of
the foam of the sea. The Holy Grove and Altar of Aphrodite in Paphos are mentioned
by Homer; since then many historians and geographers of antiquity have described
and mentioned this Shrine of the Goddess of Beauty and Love, often called Paphia.
The very Tomb of Aphrodite was shown in Paphos.
Strabo and Pausanias confuse Old and New Paphos and refer to Nea Paphos
as the city founded by Agapenor. Archaeological evidence, however, is against
this view for, whereas the presence of the Mycenaeans in Old Paphos is well attested,
the founding of New Paphos cannot be earlier than the 4th c. B.C.
Recent excavations have shown that heavy fighting took place at the
NE defenses of the city at the time of the Ionian Revolt (499-498 B.C.). Nikokles,
son of Timarchos, the last king of Paphos, was also the founder of New Paphos.
He remained faithful to Ptolemy and when in 312 B.C. Marion was razed, its inhabitants
were transferred to Paphos, most likely New Paphos. Old Paphos, however, still
flourished in Hellenistic and Graeco-Roman times and retained its status as the
principal center of the cult of Aphrodite. In fact, Strabo tells us that at the
annual festival of Aphrodite men and women, from other cities as well as from
Paphos walked from New to Old Paphos, a distance of 60 stadia.
Very little is known of the earlier history of Palaipaphos. The name
appears on the prism of Esarhaddon (673-672 B.C.) where Ituander, king of Pappa,
is interpreted as Eteandros king of Paphos. Two gold bracelets of the late 6th
or early 5th c. B.C. which are said to have been found at Kourion bear in Cypriot
script the name Eteandros, king of Paphos. The sequence of its kings from the
beginning of the 5th c. B.C. is fairly well fixed from coins and from inscriptions.
The principal monuments uncovered up to the present day include part
of the fortifications of the city excavated in recent years and the Temple of
Aphrodite, which was excavated towards the end of the 19th c. Most of the ruins
of this large city, however, remain unexcavated. The existence of a gymnasium
and of a theater is attested by inscriptions but their sites remain unidentified.
The oracle is known both from an inscription and from literary sources.
Of particular importance are the NE fortifications of the city. The
sector uncovered thus far is at the Marcello hill, due NE of the village of Kouklia.
A wall running for ca. 90 m in a SE-NW direction was cleared. At the SE end a
rectangular tower projecting from the outward face of the wall was uncovered.
At the NW end are two bastions with a gate in between. But most important perhaps
of all the fortifications is the siege mound between the gate and the tower. The
city defenses date from Late Geometric or early archaic down to Late Hellenistic
times. Of particular interest are the fortifications of the time of the Ionian
Revolt (499-498 B.C.) with the construction of siege and countersiege works. The
mound was raised by the Persians when besieging the city. The most striking feature
of the siege mound is the variety of its contents: stones, earth, ashes, burnt
bones, carbonized wood, and numerous architectural, sculptural and epigraphical
fragments, many of which were damaged by fire.
The architectural finds include fragments of Proto-Ionic volute capitals,
acroteria, architraves, and various moldings. There are a number of altars, bases,
and many votive columns. More remarkable are the great quantities of limestone
sculpture, among which are Kouroi clad in the Cypriot "belt" and parts
of sphinxes and lions. All the sculptured remains date from the archaic period,
mostly of the middle or the later part of the 6th c. B.C. To the same context
belong over 190 syllabic inscriptions, many of them obviously dedications. The
large amount of sculptural and architectural debris proves that there existed
an important archaic sanctuary in the vicinity outside the walls and that this
shrine was used by the Persians as a quarry for building the ramp in a hurry.
The siege mound also contained a large number of rough, round-shaped stones, probably
used as ballistic missiles. Besides the materials described the mound contained
great quantities of weapons: javelin points, spearheads and arrowheads both of
iron and bronze, and an exceptionally well-preserved late archaic bronze helmet
of the Greek type with engraved ornaments, resembling the so-called Miltiades
helmet from Olympia.
On the other hand, a series of underground sally ports were made by
the besieged for mining the mound. Severe fighting took place during the construction
of the ramp, to judge from the quantity of missiles found, and the defenders were
able to mine the ramp by setting fire to the support of the tunnels, thereby causing
it to collapse.
The set-back NE gate has an outer (N) cross-bastion and an inner (S)
cross-bastion on the opposite side. The presence of many spearheads and arrowheads
and the extensive damage to the gate also indicate heavy fighting at the time
of the Ionian Revolt. In the 4th c. B.C. a series of guard rooms were built on
the N side of the gate.
The temple of Aphrodite lies on a hill at the SW sector of Palaipaphos.
Unfortunately very little of this temple survives and most of its ruins date from
Graeco-Roman times (excavated in 1887).
The plan as uncovered to date may be divided into two sections: the
S wing, of which very imperfect remains exist; and the great rectangular enclosure
to the N; its sides are ca. 9 m long, within which area are included the S stoa,
several chambers of various sizes, the N stoa, a large open court, and the central
The great rectangular enclosure seems originally to have consisted
of a range of buildings extending along the whole of the E side with a great open
court to the W of it, which was flanked on the N by a wide stoa extending along
its whole width and probably originally by a similar stoa extending along the
S front. Whether this court ever had a W wall it is impossible to say without
When in Roman times the temple was restored after its destruction
by earthquakes on two separate occasions all traces of the S stoa were destroyed
and a new one of large proportions was built. The central hall dates also from
Roman times but the chambers running up the E side belong to the pre-Roman period.
To the same period may be assigned the walls of the N stoa.
Very little of the plan of the temple can be worked out from the existing
remains and our knowledge of the temple is better derived from coins of the Augustan
and later periods.
A large conical stone, now in the Cyprus Museum, came from the area
of the Temple of Aphrodite and may be an aniconic representation of the goddess.
It is possible that this stone once stood in the central room of the temple. The
central feature of the shrine is shown on representations of the temple on Cypriot
coins of the Roman era.
Many Greek alphabetic inscriptions of the Hellenistic and Roman era
were found in the area of the temple. Of these some are dedications to Aphrodite
Paphia while others are honorific. An important inscription of the Early Hellenistic
period is a dedication of Ptolemy II to his naval architect Pyrgoteles son of
Zoes. A house of the atrium type of the 3d-4th c. B.C. to the W of the Temple
of Aphrodite was excavated in 1950 and 1951.
The finds are in the Cyprus Museum, the Paphos District Museum, and
the site museum at Kouklia.
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.
Paphos (Nea Paphos)
On the W coast. The ruins cover an extensive area, about 100 ha, part
of which is now occupied by the modern village of Kato Paphos. Vast necropoleis
extend N and E. Nea Paphos, or simply Paphos, was the capital of Cyprus during
the latter part of the Hellenistic period and throughout the Roman era. Nea Paphos
should not be confused with Palaipaphos (q.v.), which lies some 16 km to the SE,
which as the earlier of the two cities was the seat of the kingdom of Paphos and
the center of the celebrated cult of Aphrodite. Nea Paphos is definitely a later
city founded sometime in the 4th c. B.C. Apart from the contemporary cemeteries,
a large necropolis of the Geometric, archaic, Classical, Hellenistic, and Graeco-Roman
times exists further inland within the limits of the modern town of Paphos, but
the city to which this necropolis belongs remains unidentified.
The historical sources for Nea Paphos are late and their evidence
is confusing for it is not always clear to which of the two cities they refer,
though generally speaking Paphos, at least in the earlier authors, denotes Palaipaphos.
The use of Paphos, to designate Nea Paphos becomes current during the 2d c. B.C.
Nea Paphos was probably founded in the latter part of the 4th c. B.C.
by Nikokles, the last king of the Paphian kingdom, to serve as his economic and
political capital. The destruction of the city of Marion in 312 B.C. by Ptolemy
Soter and the transfer of its population to Paphos may refer to this new city.
Nikokles was awarded the people of Marion for his fidelity to Ptolemy and it is
not unreasonable to suggest that the inhabitants of Marion were sent to people
a newly founded city. Nea Paphos gradually grew in importance and by the beginning
of the 2d c. B.C. had taken the place of Salamis as capital of Cyprus.
Nea Paphos had in Ptolemaic times a shipbuilding industry. Ptolemy
II Philadelphos (284-246/245) had two large ships built there by the naval architect
Pyrgoteles son of Zoes, to whom a statue was erected in the Temple of Aphrodite
Under the Ptolemies, Nea Paphos (hereafter Paphos) enjoyed certain
forms of liberty, as for example, a boule and demos and a grammateus. The importance
of Paphos is shown by the fact that this city along with Salamis and Kition preserved
the right to issue coins. In fact, the Paphian mint was the most important, and
was the only one still issuing coins in Roman times. Recent excavations brought
to light a hoard consisting of 2484 silver Ptolemaic tetradrachmas, the majority
of which were minted in Paphos. The others were minted in Salamis and Kition.
Molds were found also for casting flans as well as bronze flans for making coins,
again of the Ptolemaic period.
Paphos, which had been increasing in importance under the Ptolemies
and had become the capital of Cyprus, retained this position throughout the Roman
period until the 4th c. A.D. when it reverted to Salamis. The earliest written
record of the city as capital of Cyprus occurs in the Acts of the Apostles (13:5-13),
which describes the visit of St. Paul, John, Mark the Evangelist, and St. Barnabas
to Paphos (A.D. 45), the seat of the proconsul Sergius Paulus, whom they converted
The cities of Roman Cyprus were governed by a demos and boule and
there is nothing to indicate that the Romans ever founded a colonia or municipium
in the island. A joint organization termed the Koinon Kuprion (Federation of Cypriots),
which was functioning under the Ptolemies, continued during the Roman period.
At some time in the 4th c. A.D. Paphos yielded to Salamis its place
as the metropolis of Cyprus, possibly because of the severe earthquakes of 332
and 342, in which both cities were badly shaken. Paphos was eventually rebuilt
but it never regained its lost glory. The city became in Early Christian times
the seat of a bishop and within reduced limits it continued to be a city of some
importance. It survived the Arab raids.
The principal monuments uncovered to date include the House of Dionysos
with floor mosaics, a large public building also with floor mosaics, an odeon,
two Early Christian basilicas, and the Early Byzantine Castle. The city wall can
still be traced for most of its course and the breakwaters of the ancient harbor
are still there. Moreover we know the site of the gymnasium, of a Hellenistic
theater, of a garrison camp, of the Temple of Apollo Hylates, and of other monuments.
From inscriptions we are also informed of the worship here of Aphrodite, Zeus,
Apollo, Artemis, and Leto. Most of the ruins of this city, however, remain unexcavated.
The House of Dionysos (ca. A.D. 3d c.) is of impressive dimensions;
it occupies an area of ca. 2000 sq. m, of which about one-quarter is paved with
mosaics. It is an atrium-type house with an impluvium in the center. The floor
of the rectangular portico thus formed around the impluvium was paved with mosaics.
The rooms all around the atrium were similarly paved. To the E lie the bedrooms
and the bathrooms and a small peristyle vivarium. To the W are the kitchens and
the workshops. The main entrance is at the SW, leading up from the S street. Remains
of painted stucco indicate that the walls of the house were also decorated with
polychrome geometric or floral patterns.
The pavement mosaics are composed of magnificent polychrome designs
of great artistic value and beauty. On three sides of the atrium there are a series
of hunting scenes. On the fourth (W) portico are four panels of figures from Greek
mythology: Pyramos and Thisbe; Dionysos, Akme, Ikarios and the First Wine Drinkers;
Poseidon and Amymone; and Apollo pursuing Daphne. The most important room is probably
the tablinum. In its center a large rectangular panel depicts a vintage scene.
Along its E, narrow end is another mythological scene representing the Triumph
of Dionysos. This panel is flanked by the Dioskouroi. Other figure representations
exist in other rooms: Hippolytos and Phaidra, Ganymede and the Eagle, the Peacock,
the Four Seasons, and Narcissus. Moreover, many other rooms are paved with a geometric
decoration only but again of a great variety of color and pattern.
What appears to be a public building of Late Roman times, due S of
the House of Dionysos, has been under excavation since 1965. This edifice has
an inner peristyle court, 56 x 43 m, surrounded by long porticos with rows of
rooms adjacent to them. So far only parts of the N, the W, and the S wings have
been excavated. The porticos and most of the rooms were paved with mosaics, but
they are, with few exceptions, badly damaged. At the E end of the S corridor is
an apsidal room, which was probably the corner chamber of the E wing. It contains
within a medallion a mosaic pavement depicting Theseus slaying the Minotaur, Ariadne
and personifications of Crete, and the Labyrinth. In one of the S rooms another
relatively well-preserved mosaic floor depicts the Three Fates, Peleus, Thetis,
An odeion was recently excavated on the E slope of a low hill where
the modern lighthouse stands, believed to be the acropolis. The odeion, which
was entirely built, suffered much damage at the hands of quarrymen but 12 rows
of seats were identified.
The parodoi were also badly looted but the remains of their foundations
indicate that spectators entered the orchestra by a G-shaped parodos similar to
those of the theater at Soloi. The stage-building, constructed of large well-dressed
stones, extended beyond the parodoi. Only its floor survives. The diameter of
the semicircular orchestra measures ca. 12 m. The lower course of the outside
analemma is well preserved; the diameter of the cavea is ca. 47.7 m. The Paphos
odeion, the first of its kind known in the island, dates from the beginning of
the 1st c. A.D. It has been partly restored.
On the S slope of the Fabrica hill in the E sector of the city can
be seen the remains of another theater, still unexcavated, looking S and commanding
a wide and beautiful view over the city below and the sea beyond. The upper part
of the cavea is cut in the solid rock, where many rows of seats are still visible.
Inscriptions date the theater to the 3d c. B.C.
The city wall may be traced in practically all its course but the
better preserved part lies to the NW. At this point the circuit follows the edge
of the artificially scarped cliffs. Here too lies the NW gate, the foundations
of which are cut in the rock. The approach from the sea was by a bridge, also
rock-cut, which slopes gently outside the gate to a length of some 36 m. The gate
itself was flanked by towers. There still exist some sally ports. A NE gate is
also visible and there were probably a N and an E one. Apparently there were towers
at regular intervals all along the circuit. This city wall may have been originally
built by King Nikokles, the founder of Nea Paphos.
The ancient harbor, still used by small craft, was mainly artificial
with its two breakwaters projecting into the sea for a considerable distance.
The surviving length of the E arm is 350 m, that of the W one is 170 m.
A complex of underground chambers to the N of the city may be part
of the camp of a garrison. The complex consists of a long vaulted passage with
chambers opening along the E side and at the far end to the N. Two of these chambers
resemble those of the Sanctuary of Apollo Hylates (see below) and it is possible
that they served as a sanctuary but only as part of a larger compound of buildings
and it appears that the whole was surrounded by a wall. The date to be assigned
to them should be the end of the 4th c. B.C.
The Sanctuary of Apollo Hylates lies to the E outside the limits of
the ancient city. Cut in the solid rock it is composed of two underground chambers
entered by a flight of steps. The front chamber is rectangular; the back one,
circular with a dome-shaped roof. Two rock-cut inscriptions in the Cypro-syllabic
script, cut above the entrance of the cave, inform us that it was dedicated to
Apollo Hylates. These inscriptions are dated to the end of the 4th c. B.C., hence
the sanctuary should be contemporary with the foundation of Nea Paphos.
The Tombs of the Kings lie in the N necropolis about 1.5 km from the
city. They consist of an open peristyle court in the center with burial chambers
all around, and are entirely cut in the solid rock below ground level and are
entered by a flight of steps, also rock-cut. The peristyle is of the Doric order;
each side of the court is decorated as a temple facade with Doric columns and
an entablature of triglyphs and metopes. These tombs, which do not follow in the
traditional tomb architecture of Cyprus, may have their prototypes in Alexandria.
They date from Hellenistic times and were probably used for the burial of the
Ptolemaic rulers of the island.
From the city site come a number of marble sculptures and inscriptions
of the Hellenistic and Graeco-Roman period.
The finds are in the Nicosia and Paphos 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.
Harpers Dictionary of Classical Antiquities
(Paphos). The name of two towns on the west coast of Cyprus,
called "Old Paphos" (Palaipaphos) and "New Paphos" (Paphos
Nea), the former near the promontory of Zephyrium, ten stadia from the coast;
the latter more inland, sixty stadia from the former. Old Paphos was the chief
seat of the worship of Aphrodite, who is said to have landed at this place after
her birth among the waves, and who is hence frequently called the Paphian goddess
(Paphia). Here she had a celebrated temple, the high-priest of which exercised
a kind of religious superintendence over the whole island. The priests were supposed
to be descendants of Cinyras. The image of the goddess was a conical stone, which
was anointed with oil at the time of worship, and this, with other testimony derived
from excavations made since 1887 by English explorers, makes it evident that the
cult of the Paphian Aphrodite was Semitic rather than Hellenic. The very temple,
with its large open courts and small chambers, had the characteristics of a Phoenician
structure. New Paphos, on the other hand, was of Greek foundation, and the traditions
ascribed it to Agapenor.
In the reign of Augustus Old Paphos was destroyed by an earthquake,
and when rebuilt by order of the emperor received the name of Augusta.
This text is cited Oct 2002 from The Perseus Project URL below, which contains interesting hyperlinks
- Perseus: Harry Thurston Peck, Harpers Dictionary of Classical Antiquities (1898)
Greek & Roman Geography (ed. William Smith)
Paphus (Ptol. viii. 20. § 3, &c.: Eth. and Adj. Paphios, Paphius,
and Paphiacus), the name of two towns seated on the SW. extremity of the coast
of Cyprus, viz., Old Paphos (Paphos palaia, Ptol. v. 14. § 1; or, in one word,
Palaipaphos, Strab. xiv. p. 683; Palaepaphos, Plin. v. 31. s. 35) and New Paphos
(Paphos Nea, Ptol. l. c.; Nea Paphos, Plin. l. c.). The name of Paphos, without
any adjunct, is used by poets and by writers of prose to denote both Old and New
Paphos, but with this distinction, that in prose writers it commonly means New
Paphos, whilst in the poets, on the contrary, - for whom the name of Palaepaphos
would have - been unwieldy, - it generally signifies Old Paphos, the more peculiar
seat of the worship of Aphrodite. In inscriptions, also, both towns are called
Paphos. This indiscriminate use is sometimes productive of ambiguity, especially
in the Latin prose authors.
Old Paphos, now Kukla or Konuklia (Engel, Kypros, vol. i. p. 125),
was said to have been founded by Cinyras, the father of Adonis (Apollod. iii.
14); though according to another legend preserved by Strabo (xi. p. 505),- whose
text, however, varies, - it was founded by the Amazons. It was seated on an eminence
( celsa Paphos, Virg. Aen. x. 51), at the distance of about 10 stadia, or 1 mile,
from the sea, on which, however, it had a roadstead. it was not far distant from
the promontory of Zephyrium (Strab. xiv. p. 683) and the mouth of the little river
Bocarus. (Hesych. s. v. Bokaros.) The fable ran that Venus had landed there when
she rose from out the sea. (Tac. Hist. ii. 3; Mela, ii. 7; Lucan viii.456.) According
to Pausanias (i. 14), her worship was introduced at Paphos from Assyria; but it
is much more probable that it was of Phoenician origin. It had been very anciently
established, and before the time of Homer, as the grove and altar of Aphrodite
at Paphos are mentioned in the Odyssey (viii. 362). Here the worship of the goddess
centred, not for Cyprus alone, but for the whole earth. The Cinyradae, or descendants
of Cinyras, - Greek by name, but of Phoenician origin, - were the chief priests.
Their power and authority were very great; but it may be inferred from certain
inscriptions that they were controlled by a senate and an assembly of the people.
There was also an oracle here. (Engel, i.p. 483.) Few cities have ever been so
much sung and glorified by the poets. (Cf. Aesch. Suppl. 525; Virg. Aen. i. 415;
Hor. Od. i. 19, 30, iii. 26; Stat. Silv. i. 2. 101; Aristoph. Lysis. 833, &c.
&c.) The remains of the vast temple of Aphrodite are still discernible, its circumference
being marked by huge foundation walls. After its overthrow by an earthquake, it
was rebuilt by Vespasian, on whose coins it is represented, as well as on earlier
and later ones, and especially in, the most perfect style on those of Septimius
Severus. (Engel, vol. i. p. 130.) From these representations, and from the existing
remains, Hetsch, an architect of Copenhagen, has attempted to restore the building.
(Muller's Archaol. § 239, p. 261; Eckhel, vol. iii. p. 86.)
New Paphos, now Baffa, was seated on the sea, near the western extremity
of the island, and possessed a good harbour. It lay about 60 stadia, or between
7 and 8 miles NW. of the ancient city. (Strab. xiv. p. 683.) It was said to have
been founded by Agapenor, chief of the Arcadians at the siege of Troy (Horn. II.
ii. 609), who, after the the capture of that town, was driven by the storm, which
separated the Grecian fleet, on the coast of Cyprus. (Paus. viii. 5. § 3.) We
find Agapenor mentioned as king of the Paphians in a Greek distich preserved in
the Analecta (i. p. 181, Brunk); and Herodotus (vii. 90) alludes to an Arcadian
colony in Cyprus. Like its ancient namesake, Nea Paphos was also distinguished
for the worship of Venus, and contained several magnificent temples dedicated
to that-goddess. Yet in this respect the old city seems to have always retained
the preeminence; and Strabo tells us, in the passage before cited, that the road
leading to it from Nea Paphos was annually crowded with male and female votaries
resorting to the more ancient shrine, and coming not only from the latter place
itself, but also from the other towns of Cyprus. When Seneca says (N. Q. vi. 26,
Ep. 91) that Paphos was nearly destroyed by an earthquake, it is difficult to
say to which of the towns he refers. Dion Cassius (liv. 23) relates that it was
restored by Augustus, and called Augusta in his honour ; but though this name
has been preserved in inscriptions, it never supplanted the ancient one in popular
use. Paphos is mentioned in the Acts of the Apostles (xiii. 6) as having been
visited by St. Paul, when it appears to have been the residence of the Roman governor.
Tacitus (Hist. ii. 2, 3) records a visit of the youthful Titus to Paphos before
he acceded to the empire, who inquired with much curiosity into its history and
antiquities. (Cf. Suet. Tit. c. 5.) Under this name the historian doubtless included
the ancient as well as the more modern city: and among other traits of the worship
of the temple he records, with something like surprise, that the only image of
the goddess was a pyramidal stone,--a relic, doubtless of Phoenician origin. There
are still considerable, ruins of New Paphos a mile or two from the sea; among
which are particularly remarkable the remains of three temples which had been
erected on artificial eminences. (Engel, Kypros, 2 vols. Berlin, 1841.)
This text is from: Dictionary of Greek and Roman Geography (1854) (ed. William Smith, LLD). Cited August 2004 from The Perseus Project URL below, which contains interesting hyperlinks
- Dictionary of Greek and Roman Geography (1854) (ed. William Smith, LLD)
- The foundation of Nea Paphos