Location of Kition
|Historical era||Classical Antiquity|
|•||Established||13th century BC|
Kition (Ancient Greek: Κίτιον, Phoenician: kty), also known by its Latin name Citium, was a city-kingdom on the southern coast of Cyprus (in present-day Larnaca). It was established in the 13th century BC.
"In an Egyptian inscription dating to the period of Pharaoh Ramses III (1198-1116 BC) found in the temple of Medinet Habu amongst the names of other Cypriot cities, that of Kathian is considered to refer to Kition", according to P. Flourentzos (author and [Cuprus'] Curator of Archaeological Museums and Surveys).
That the settlements name might once have been Khardihadast, was suggested by E. Gjerstad—and "not accepted by other scholars studying the Phoenician period, such as Masson, Sznycer and Hill".
The city-kingdom was originally established in the 13th century BC. "New cultural elements appearing between 1200 BC and 1000 BC (personal objects, pottery, new architectural forms and ideas) are interpreted as indications of significant political changes and the arrival of the Achaeans, the first Greek colonists of Kition." 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 inquietude of the time.
"[I]t is early in the 12th century BC that the town was rebuilt on a larger scale, its mudbrick wall was replaced by a cyclopean wall". 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".
Literary evidence "suggests an early Phoenician presence at least at Kition, which according to this information was under Tyrian rule at the beginning of the 10th century BC". 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."
The kingdom was under Egyptian domination from 570 to 545 BC. Persia ruled Cyprus from 545 BC. Kings of the city are referred to by name from 500 BC—in Phoenician texts and as inscriptions on coins.
Marguerite Yon (archaeologist) claims that "Literary texts and inscriptions suggest that by the Classical period Kition was one of the principal local powers, along with its neighbor Salamis." In 499 BC Cypriot kingdoms (including Kition) joined Ionia's revolt against Persia. "A trading colony from Kition, already 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".
The city had an advanced sea port which was destroyed in the 332 AD earthquake. Persian rule of Cyprus ended in 332 BC. "Ptolemy I kills the Phoenician king of Kition—Poumyathon—and burns the temples." Ptolemy I conquers Cyprus in 312 BC. "Towards the end of the 4th century BC the cypriot city-kingdoms were dissolved and the phoenician dynasty of Kition was abolished. Following these events the area lost its religious character."
After the end of Ptolemaic rule, there are no records of coins being minted at Kition. Cyprus was annexed by Rome in 58 BC. A "curator civitatis, responsible for the financial administration of the city, was sent to Kition from Rome" during the rule of Septimius Severus. Strong earthquakes hit the city in 76 AD and the year after. Earthquakes of 322 AD and 342 "caused the destruction not only of Kition but also of Salamis and Pafos".
The Kition archaeological sites
The Kathari site (a.k.a. Area II)
Seemingly a religious centre, five temples were excavated in close proximity with metal workshops—providing evidence for a connection between metallurgy and religion. Copper metallurgy seems to have been "placed under divine protection". The site is located near the north wall of the city—around 900 meters from the present-day seashore.
Excavations have revealed "part of a defensive wall, dating from the 13th century BC" and remains of five temples including cyclopean walls—at present-day Kathari in Larnaca. The largest temple's (horizontal) dimensions were 35 meters by 22 meters. A large temple was built using ashlar blocks, and "temple (2)" was rebuilt—around 1200 BC. Temple (1) has "Late Bronze Age graffiti of ships on the façade of the south wall". The Department of Antiquities (under the direction of Vassos Karageorghis) started excavating in 1959. The site was excavated from 1963-1981. This excavation site is located around 500 meters north of the Bamboula site of Kition. The area is sometimes referred to as "Kition Area II".
The Bamboula site
In 1845 the Sargon Stele was found here. Together with the stele was found a gilded silver plakette, that today is located at the Louvre. "[T]races of settlement dating to the tenth century were found along ramparts next to the port at Bamboula" in 1976. The site also consists of a sanctuary of Astarte and a sanctuary of Melkart. The earliest sanctuary was built in the 9th century BC.
1987 saw the discovery of "the neoria of the Phoenician harbour for the war ships, built in the 5th century BC. In its final stage, it consisted of ship sheds (six of them have been recorded), 6 meters wide and about 38 to 39 meters long, with shipways on which triremes were pulled up to dry under tiled roofs" (The French team from the University of Lyon had started excavating in 1976, in collaboration with the Department of Antiquities and the University of Cyprus; "under the auspices of the Maison de L'Orient's Center of Cypriot Archeology at the Courby Institute").
A British Expedition excavated the site in 1913. "[T]he myth of the "pseudo Acropolis" at Bamboula, which came about due to a false interpretation in an article on Bamboula by Ohnefalsch-Richter" has been explained in a book by Marguerite Yon. The site is located around 100 meters north of (the building of) the Larnaca District Museum.
Other archaeological sites at Kition
Five built tombs—hypogeum is another name for this type of tombs—have been discovered at Kition—the Vangelis Tomb, Godham's Tomb, the Phaneromeni-, and the Turabi Tekke tomb. 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.
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. "Kition Area III" and "-IV" are names of other archaeological sites at Kition.
Sophocles Hadjisavvas has said that "the necropolis of Kition is the most extensively investigated burial ground on the island of Cyprus". "The necropolis [of Kition] extends from the Ayios Prodromos and the area of Agios Ioannis "Pervolia" and "Mnimata" (Northern Necropolis) to Ayios Georghios Kontos and the Chrysosotiros church (Soteros quarter), (Western Necropolis)." A "part of the Kition necropolis became the subject of rescue work at the site of Agios Prodromos".
The Mnemata Site
- 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.
- Radner, Karen. The Stele of Sargon II of Assyria at Kition: A focus for an emerging Cypriot identity?. p. 443. ISBN 978-3-447-06171-1.
- According to the text on the plaque closest to the excavation pit of the Kathari site (as of 2013).
- According to display number 2 in exhibit room number 2 at the Larnaca District Museum
- According to text on a map that is part of one of the signs at the entrance of the Kition-Kathari site.
- 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.
- According to the text on the only plaque at the Kathari site (as of 2013).
- Excerpt of text on the only plaque at the Kathari site (as of 2013).
- Excerpt of wall mounted text in exhibit room number two at Larnaca District Museum.
- Hadjisavvas, Sophocles (2013). The Phoenician Period Necropolis of Kition, Volume I. Shelby White and Leon Levy Program for Archaeological Publications. p. 1.
- According to text on one of the signs at the entrance of the Kathari site.
- 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: 9. JSTOR 1357405.
- According to text mounted in the coin display at Larnaca District Museum.
- 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.
- Text on the plaque (on the grounds of Larnaca District Archaeological Museum) facing the Bamboula site.
- 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.
- "Kition" (in Greek). Mcw.gov.cy. Retrieved 2014-04-25.
- Excerpt of text on the only plaque at the Kathari site (as of 2013).
- Excerpt of wall mounted text in exhibit room number 2 at Larnaca District Museum.
- "Department of Antiquities - Kition" (in Greek). Mcw.gov.cy. Retrieved 2014-04-25.
- According to text on the plaque (on the grounds of Larnaca District Archaeological Museum) facing the Bamboula site.
- Jean-Christophe Sourisseau (1970-01-01). "Le port de guerre de Kition". Academia.edu. Retrieved 2014-04-25.
- 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: 9–17. JSTOR 1357405.
- Recent Holocene paleo-environmental evolution and coastline changes of Kition, Larnaca, Cyprus, Mediterranean Sea[dead link]
- Yon, Marguerite. "Cooperation en archeologie. Bilan et Perspectives - article ; n°1 ; vol.25". Chypre et Lyon 1964-1994 (in English—the abstract; otherwise in French). p. 15.
- "Conspectus Librorum - Book Review: - Marguerite YON, Kition de Chypre". Akkadica.org. Retrieved 2014-04-25.
- Excerpt of wall mounted text at Larnaca District Museum.
- British Museum Collection 
- "The Phoenician Period Necropolis of Kition, Volume I". Fas.harvard.edu. Retrieved 2014-04-25.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Citium.|
- The port of the Kingdom of Kition
- "Max Ohnefalsch-Richter". Wikipedia in German.
- Photos: Ancient Ruins of Kition Kathari