the neolithic settlement at choirokoitia
By the 9th millenium BC sedentary communities are settled in Cyprus. These communities develop a Cypriot cultural package that constitutes the Cypriot Neolithic period of the island During the Neolithic period people are farmes and hunters. They use stone and bones to make their first tools and later on they develop the working of clay in order to manufacture their first vessels. An excellent example of this period is the settlement at Choirokoitia which was inscribed on the UNESCO World Cultural Heritage List in 1998.
During the chalcolithic period people begin to develop the process of metal, namely copper. In Antiquity, Cyprus possessed a large amount of copper. It is said that copper took its name from the name of the island.
Sometime in the mid-3rd millennium BC, Cyprus enters the Bronze Age. During the early and Middle Bronze Age the people of the island live in robust villages situated in some distance from the coast and they use copper in order to manufacture tools for personal use.
everyday life in cyprus during the early-middle bronze age
middle bronze age settlement at alambra
An example of this period is the settlement at Alambra that was excavated by an American mission in the 1970s. During the Late Bronze Age the robust communities of the island form the earliest Cypriot states, which form this time on organize the extraction of copper in an industrial scale and participate in long-distance maritime trade with the Mediterranean mega states, name the Egyptians, the Hittites, the Mycenaeans. It is during this period of time that the earliest script appears on the island, while it is being used to record the unknown language spoken by the Cypriots.
After a turbulent period in the easter Mediterranean (end of 13th-beginning of 12th c.) the Mycenaean states collapse and their former inhabitants reach Cyprus as economic immigrants. As a result, from the 11th c. BC onwards Greek becomes the main language of Cyprus. The Late Bronze age polities of Cyprus evolve in the Iron Age into the Cypriot city-kingdoms. These are: Salamis, Kition, Amathous, Kourion, Paphos, Soloi, Marion, Lapethos, Idalion, Tamassos and Ledra. Most of these cities have Greek heroes of the Trojan wars as their mythical founders.
The Cypriot city-kingdoms flourish as independent and robust states even during the time of the Neoassyrian and Persioan expansion. It is only in the end of the 4th c. BC., following the death of Alexander the Great, when his Diadochoi divided the huge empire into smaller states, that the Cypriot kingdoms are abolished. Responsible for the abolition of the Cypriot kingdoms is Ptolemy, one of Alexander's generals, who exterminated the kingdoms (and even some of the kings) and annexed Cyprus into his state (mostly formed by Egypt). After this shocking event in the Cypriot history a new phase begins, during which the island is subordinated to external forces. After the Ptolemies (Hellenistic period, 310 30 BC), the island is conquered by the Romans (30 BC - AD 330) and later on is annexed into the Byzantine Empire (330 - 1191). During the 3th Crusade Cyprus is conquered by Richard the Lionheart, who sells the island initially to the Templars and then to Guy de Lusignan. The Frankish period then follows, lasting until 1489 when Cyprus becomes Venetian. In 1571, the island is violently conquered by the Ottoman Turks, who finally sell it over to Great Britain in 1878.
It is only in 1960 that Cyprus gains its independence. However in 1974, the Turkish invasion takes places and eventually the island is divided into two parts, by isolating Greek-Cypriots citized (namely the 80% of the total population) into the south part and Turkish-Cypriots (namely the 18% of the whole population) into the north part of the island.
In 2004, the Republic of Cyprus becomes an official member of the European Union. Since 2008, Cyprus belongs to the Eurozone and has espoused the European currency, namely Euro. When walking along the island, someone comes across different signs of ancient, medieval and modern history of Cyprus: Neolithic settlements, mines from the Bronze Age, palaces from the period of Kingdomes, Hellenistic theaters, Roman temples, Byzantine churces, medieval abbeys and Ottoman baths. It is said that the memory of the area of Akamas where the goddess Aphrodite, the predominant goddess of Cyprus from classical antiquity onwards, used to bathe, remains alive until nowadays.