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Coordinates: 34°55′24″N 33°37′50″E / 34.9233°N 33.6305°E / 34.9233; 33.6305
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𐤊𐤕 or 𐤊𐤕𐤉
12th century BC–342 AD[1]
Location of Kition
Location of Kition
Common languagesGreek[2] and Phoenician[2]
Ancient Greek religion/Ancient Canaanite religion
GovernmentPetty kingdom
Historical eraClassical Antiquity
• Established
12th century BC
• Disestablished
342 AD[1]
CurrencyStater, obol
Today part ofCyprus
A Z1
Z1 N21
in hieroglyphs
Era: New Kingdom
(1550–1069 BC)

Kition (Ancient Greek: Κίτιον, Kition; Latin: Citium;[4] Egyptian: kꜣṯꜣj;[3] Phoenician: 𐤊𐤕, KT,[5][6] or 𐤊𐤕𐤉, KTY;[7][8][9]) was an Ancient Greek city-kingdom on the southern coast of Cyprus (in present-day Larnaca), one of the Ten city-kingdoms of Cyprus. According to the text on the plaque closest to the excavation pit of the Kathari site (as of 2013), it was established in the 13th century BC by Greek (Achaean) settlers, after the Trojan War.

Its most famous, and probably only known, resident was Zeno of Citium, born c. 334 BC in Citium and founder of the Stoic school of philosophy which he taught in Athens from about 300 BC.


Citium (Citium) is the Latinised form of the Ancient Greek name Kítion (Κίτιον).[10] The names originated from the Phoenician name 𐤊𐤕𐤉 (KTY, pronounced Kitiya).[9]


The city-kingdom was originally established in the 12th century BC by Greek (Achaean) settlers, after the Trojan war.[11]

Mycenaeans first settled in the area for the purpose of the exploitation of copper, but the settlement eventually faded two centuries later as a result of constant disarray and anxiety of the time.[12]

New cultural elements appearing between 1200 BC and 1000 BC (personal objects, pottery, new architectural forms and ideas) are indications of significant political changes after the arrival of the Achaeans, the first Greek colonists of Kition.[13]

Faience rhyton with enamel inlay, 13th c. BC, Nicosia museum

Early in the 12th century BC the town was rebuilt on a larger scale; its mudbrick city wall was replaced by a cyclopean wall.[14] Around 1000 BC, the religious part of the city was abandoned, although life seems to have continued in other areas as indicated by finds in tombs.[15]

Map showing the twelve ancient city-kingdoms of Cyprus

Literary evidence suggests an early Phoenician presence also at Kition which was under Tyrian rule at the beginning of the 10th century BC.[16] Some Phoenician merchants who were believed to come from Tyre colonized the area and expanded the political influence of Kition. After c. 850 BC the sanctuaries [at the Kathari site] were rebuilt and reused by the Phoenicians."[13]

The kingdom was under Egyptian domination from 570 to 545 BC.[17] Persia ruled Cyprus from 545 BC.[17] Kings of the city are referred to by name from 500 BC—in Phoenician texts and as inscriptions on coins.[18]

Marguerite Yon claims that literary texts and inscriptions suggest that by the Classical period Kition was one of the principal local powers, along with its neighbour Salamis.[18] In 499 BC Cypriot kingdoms (including Kition) joined Ionia's revolt against Persia.[19]

Persian rule of Cyprus ended in 332 BC.

Ptolemy I conquered Cyprus in 312 BC and killed Poumyathon, the Phoenician king of Kition, and burned the temples.[17] Shortly afterwards the Cypriot city-kingdoms were dissolved and the Phoenician dynasty of Kition was abolished. Following these events the area lost its religious character.[20]

However, a trading colony from Kition established at Piraeus had prospered to the point that, in 233 BC they requested and received permission for the construction of a temple dedicated to Astarte".[21]

Cyprus was annexed by Rome in 58 BC.[22]

Strong[1] earthquakes hit the city in 76 AD and the year after, but the city seems to have been prosperous during Roman times. A curator civitatis, or financial administrator of the city, was sent to Kition from Rome during the rule of Septimius Severus.[22]

Earthquakes of 322 and 342 AD "caused the destruction not only of Kition but also of Salamis and Pafos".[1]

The Kition archaeological sites[edit]

Kition was first systematically[23] excavated by the Swedish Cyprus Archaeological Expedition from October 1929 (under the direction of Einar Gjerstad) until April 1930.

Kition. The cult room. Statues in situ. Some depict Herakles-Melqart and are probably from the Sub Archaic Style - Early Cypro-Classical I, ca 480-450 B.C.

The ruins can be found within the borders of the modern town of Larnaca. The ancient city was surrounded by massive walls which can still be traced today. At the Bamboula hill, in the northeastern part of the city, was the acropolis. Here, the Swedish archaeologists discovered a sanctuary dedicated to Heracles-Melqart. Between the acropolis and the modern seashore was the ancient harbour. In 1879 the Government of Cyprus filled this marshy area with soil from the upper strata of the Bamboula Hill because they wished to get rid of the malaria mosquitos. Because of this the Bamboula Hill and especially the upper layers of the acropolis were much disturbed. A small part of the city was excavated as early as 1894 by british archeologists.[24]

The Swedish archaeologists attempted a stratigraphic examination of the Bamboula mound to obtain information about the dating of the Phoenician colonization of Cyprus. They wanted to study the ceramic development and collect archaeological material to elucidate how the Phoenicians affected the development of the Cypriote culture. But, after three days of digging, they found a large deposit of sculptures and needed to subsequently enlarge the excavation.[24]

The excavation of Kition. The rectangular base of a statue, the statue itself is missing.

According to The Swedish Cyprus Expedition, the acropolis commenced as a settlement from the end of the Late Cypriote II and the beginning of Cypro Geometric I period before it became a sanctuary. Throughout the time of the Cypro-Archaic I something changed, and Kition began to be used as an open-air sanctuary. The Swedish Expedition did not find any votive sculptures from this early stage, therefore the votives might have been of a different kind or removed to a place outside the excavation. They did find a rectangular base of a statue called no. 560. The statue itself was missing with only the feet preserved. This sculpture was probably very big and could have been Kition’s cult statue. Later, the cult erected a rectangular altar made of rubble and chips of stone in front of the statue.[24]

Herakles or Herakles Melqart statue standing on a rectangular base with legs and head shown in profile, torso en face. Nude except for lionskin with paws knotted on the chest. Head of lionskin with teeth resting on Herakles’ head which has notched hair over forehead. Left arm raised with fist attached to the back of the head (formerly holding a club, now missing). Almond-shaped eyes and a faint smile. The back is roughly worked. From Kition. Can be seen at Medelhavsmuseet.

The temenos were in use until the end of the Cypro-Archaic II period when a new temenos was built on top of the old one. This temenos was enclosed by a massive peribolos wall. Furthermore, it seems like an inner temenos was created at the same place as the earlier walls had been. Within the inner temenos a low altar consisting of a square was found, as well as another pillar altar outside. Both on the altar itself and close to it the archaeologists found remains of ash and carbonized matter. All through the periods votive gifts, mainly consisting of sculptures, were placed in the sanctuary, and each time the level was raised the sculptures were transferred to the new sanctuary. Throughout the Cypro-Classic I period, the temenos were rearranged entirely and became more monumental. This sanctuary was the last one before the sanctuary was demolished in the Hellenistic period and secular buildings were erected in the same place. During the demolition, all the votive sculptures were buried, and the place was no longer used for sacred purposes. The Hellenistic house was divided into two parts and inside archaeologists found remains of a basalt press for pressing wine or oil, as well as rectangular drainage outlets and a storage vessel.[24]

During the excavation, they found no inscriptions that could inform us to whom this sanctuary was dedicated, although some of the sculptures might represent the god and thence give us an answer. Most of the sculptures dressed in lion’s skin and a club in the right hand, are a Cypriot variety of the Greek Heracles, which the Phoenicians identified with their god Melqart, the patron god of Kition. Therefore, the archaeologists concluded that the sanctuary was dedicated to the city god of Kition, Heracles-Melqart.[25]

Einar Gjerstad explains the reason why the temenos were never rebuilt as a consequence of the last king of Kition, Pumiatihon. Pumiatihon sided with Antigonus in the struggle between him and Ptolemy I Soter. He lost his life and throne which meant that Kition ceased to be an independent state after Ptolemy’s conquest of Kition in 312 B.C. and since the temple was the religious sign of the political independence of Kition it couldn't be rebuilt after the conquest.[24]

Archaeology is continuing near the Kathari site. A magnificent 20m-long Roman mosaic showing the labours of Hercules was discovered in a baths building in 2016.[26] It was found under Kyriakou Matsi Street when clearing a sewer and is expected to be transferred to the museum.[27]

The Kathari site (a.k.a. Area II)[edit]

Large Temple, Kathari, Kition

This site is located around 500 metres north of the Bamboula site and sometimes referred to as "Kition Area II".[11] The Department of Antiquities (under the direction of Vassos Karageorghis) started excavating in 1959[28] continuing until 1981.[29]

Excavations have revealed part of a defensive wall, dating from the 13th century BC[30] and remains of five temples including cyclopean walls. The largest temple's (horizontal) dimensions were 35 m by 22 m.[31] and was built using ashlar blocks. Temple (2) was rebuilt—around 1200 BC.[17] Temple (1) has Late Bronze Age graffiti of ships on the façade of the south wall.[17]

The Bamboula site[edit]

Phoenician shipyard, Bamboula, Kition

The site is located around 50 metres north of the Larnaca Museum. In 1845 the Sargon Stele was found here, together with a gilded silver plakette now in the Louvre.

A British Expedition first excavated the site in 1913.

A French team from the University of Lyon[23] started excavating in 1976.[32][33] when traces of settlement dating to the tenth century BC were found along ramparts next to the port at Bamboula.[18] The site also consists of a sanctuary of Astarte and a sanctuary of Melkart.[23] The earliest sanctuary was built in the 9th century BC.[34]

1987[35] saw the discovery of the Phoenician harbour for warships built in the 5th century BC. In its final stage, it consisted of ship sheds (six of them have been recorded), 6 metres wide and about 38 to 39 meters long, with shipways on which triremes were pulled up to dry under tiled roofs[34]

Other archaeological sites at Kition[edit]

Zeus Keraunios, 500-480 BC, Nicosia museum
The Sargon Stele

Five built tombs, or hypogea, have been discovered at Kition: the Vangelis Tomb, Godham's Tomb, the Phaneromeni, and the Turabi Tekke Tomb.[36] Two important stele with inscriptions in the Phoenician script were found in the Turabi Tekke cemetery in the late nineteenth century. They are now in the British Museum's collection.[37]

Kition Area I, "close to the west [city] wall of the Pre-Phoenician period, seems to have been a residential area" according to architectural and moveable finds.[22] "Kition Area III" and "-IV" are names of other archaeological sites at Kition.[11]

The "mound gate" in the city wall was located in the vicinity northwest of the Phaneromeni Tomb.[38]

There was also an acropolis.[39]


Sophocles Hadjisavvas has said that "the necropolis of Kition is the most extensively investigated burial ground on the island of Cyprus."[40] "The necropolis [of Kition] extends from the Ayios Prodromos and the area of Agios Ioannis "Pervolia"[41] and "Mnemata" (Northern Necropolis) to Ayios Georghios Kontos and the Chrysosotiros church (Soteros quarter), (Western Necropolis)."[36] A "part of the Kition necropolis became the subject of rescue work at the site of Agios Prodromos."[40]

The Mnemata Site[edit]

Other uses of the name[edit]

One sports club uses the name Kition - AEK Kition.

See also[edit]



  1. ^ a b c Flourentzos, Paulos (1996). A Guide to the Larnaca District Museum. Nicosia: Ministry of Communications and Works - Department of Antiquities. p. 18. ISBN 978-9963-36-425-1. OCLC 489834719.
  2. ^ a b Radner, Karen (2010). The Stele of Sargon II of Assyria at Kition: A focus for an emerging Cypriot identity?. p. 443. ISBN 978-3-447-06171-1.
  3. ^ a b Simmons, J. (1937). Handbook for the Study of Egyptian Topographical Lists Relating to Western Asia (PDF). E. J. Brill. p. 169. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2012-01-29. Retrieved 2022-08-08.
  4. ^ Chisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). "Citium" . Encyclopædia Britannica. Vol. 6 (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press. p. 397.
  5. ^ Huss (1985), p. 568.
  6. ^ KAI 33(?), 37
  7. ^ Yon, Marguerite; Childs, William A. P. (November 1997). "Kition in the Tenth to Fourth Centuries B. C." Bulletin of the American Schools of Oriental Research. 308 (308): 11. doi:10.2307/1357405. JSTOR 1357405. S2CID 156694103.
  8. ^ KAI 33, 38, 40, 41, 288, 289
  9. ^ a b Slouschz, Nahoum (1942). Thesaurus of Phoenician Inscriptions (in Hebrew). Dvir. pp. 68–69.
  10. ^ Josephus, Flavius. The Antiquities of the Jews 1.6.1. Translated by William Whiston. Greek original.
  11. ^ a b c According to the text on the plaque closest to the excavation pit at the Kathari site (as of 2013).
  12. ^ Orphanides, Andreas G. The Mycenaeans in Cyprus: Economic, Political and Ethnic Implications. Lines Between: Culture and Empire in the Eastern Mediterranean Conference, 3–6 June 2015, Nicosia, Cyprus. Retrieved 2017-09-11 – via ResearchGate.
  13. ^ a b Excerpt of text on the only plaque at the Kathari site (as of 2013).
  14. ^ Excerpt of wall mounted text in exhibit room number two at Larnaca District Museum.
  15. ^ Flourentzos, Paulos (1996). A Guide to the Larnaca District Museum. Nicosia: Ministry of Communications and Works - Department of Antiquities. p. 6. ISBN 978-9963-36-425-1. OCLC 489834719.
  16. ^ Hadjisavvas, Sophocles (2013). The Phoenician Period Necropolis of Kition, Volume I. Shelby White and Leon Levy Program for Archaeological Publications. p. 1. Archived from the original on 2016-03-04.
  17. ^ a b c d e According to text on one of the signs at the entrance of the Kathari site.
  18. ^ a b c Yon, Marguerite; William A. P. (Nov 1997). "Kition in the Tenth to Fourth Centuries B. C.". Bulletin of the American Schools of Oriental Research. 308 (308): 9–17. doi:10.2307/1357405. JSTOR 1357405. S2CID 156694103.
  19. ^ According to text mounted in the coin display at Larnaca District Museum
  20. ^ Text on the plaque (on the grounds of Larnaca District Archaeological Museum) facing the Bamboula site.
  21. ^ Flourentzos, Paulos (1996). A Guide to the Larnaca District Museum. Nicosia: Ministry of Communications and Works - Department of Antiquities. p. 15. ISBN 978-9963-36-425-1. OCLC 489834719.
  22. ^ a b c Flourentzos, Paulos (1996). A Guide to the Larnaca District Museum. Nicosia: Ministry of Communications and Works - Department of Antiquities. p. 5. ISBN 978-9963-36-425-1. OCLC 489834719.
  23. ^ a b c "Kition" (in Greek). Mcw.gov.cy. Retrieved 2014-04-25.
  24. ^ a b c d e Gjerstad, Einar (1937). The Swedish Cyprus Expedition: Finds and Results of the Excavations in Cyprus 1927-1931, Vol. III Text. Stockholm: Victor Pettersons Bokindustriaktiebolag. pp. 1, 74–75, 21, 23–26, 74–75, 76–79, 82–84, 85, 93–97, 111–112, 238, 154–155, 17–174, 210, 225–228, 270–277, 264–265, 398, 340–345, 388, 394–396, 380–383, 398, 399–403, 404–405, 407, 416–419, 533–544, 582, 563–565. ISBN 978-9333341769.{{cite book}}: CS1 maint: date and year (link)
  25. ^ Karageorghis, Vassos (2003). The Cyprus Collections in the Medelhavsmuseet. Stockholm: A.G Leventis Foundation and Medelhavsmuseet. pp. ix, 4–5, 11, 13, 16, 17. ISBN 9789963560554.{{cite book}}: CS1 maint: date and year (link)
  26. ^ "Ancient Roman mosaics uncovered in Cyprus". theartnewspaper.com. Archived from the original on 2016-08-11.
  27. ^ "Unique, Roman-era mosaic of Hercules's Labors to go to Larnaca museum | eKathimerini.com". www.ekathimerini.com.
  28. ^ "Department of Antiquities - Kition" (in Greek). Mcw.gov.cy. Retrieved 2014-04-25.
  29. ^ According to the text on the plaque closest to the excavation pit of the Kathari site (as of 2013).
  30. ^ Excerpt of text on the only plaque at the Kathari site (as of 2013).
  31. ^ Excerpt of wall mounted text in exhibit room number 2 at Larnaca District Museum.
  32. ^ Yon, Marguerite; William A. P. (Nov 1997). "Kition in the Tenth to Fourth Centuries B. C.". Bulletin of the American Schools of Oriental Research. 308 (308): 9–17. doi:10.2307/1357405. JSTOR 1357405. S2CID 156694103.
  33. ^ "Recent Holocene paleo-environmental evolution and coastline changes of Kition, Larnaca, Cyprus, Mediterranean Sea" (PDF).[permanent dead link]
  34. ^ a b According to text on the plaque (in the grounds of Larnaca Museum) facing the Bamboula site.
  35. ^ Jean-Christophe Sourisseau (1970-01-01). "Le port de guerre de Kition". Academia.edu. Retrieved 2014-04-25.
  36. ^ a b Excerpt of wall mounted text at Larnaca District Museum.
  37. ^ "Collection". The British Museum.
  38. ^ According to text on a map that is part of one of the signs at the entrance of the Kition-Kathari site.
  39. ^ According to display number 2 in exhibit room number 2 at the Larnaca District Museum
  40. ^ a b "The Phoenician Period Necropolis of Kition, Volume I". Fas.harvard.edu. Archived from the original on 2016-03-04. Retrieved 2014-04-25.
  41. ^ Cannavò, Anna; Fourrier, Sabine; Rabot, Alexandre (January 29, 2019). "Kition-Bamboula VII : Fouilles dans les nécropoles de Kition (2012-2014)". MOM Éditions – via OpenEdition Books.


Archaeological reports

External links[edit]

34°55′24″N 33°37′50″E / 34.9233°N 33.6305°E / 34.9233; 33.6305