Department of Antiquities

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Ancient Cyprus in the Ashmolean Museum

Ashmolean Presentation

Ancient Cyprus: Sites and Places


The island of Cyprus lies at the eastern end of the Mediterranean, close to the coasts of both Syria and Turkey.

Of the early geographers, Strabo was one of the first actually to visit Cyprus; he completed his Geographiea about AD 23 and describes the island in the fourteenth book:

'in excellence it falls behind no one of the islands, for it is rich in wine and oil, and uses home-grown wheat. There are mines of copper in plenty.'


Map of Sites and Places in CyprusThere are two mountain systems on the island, the Kyrenia range in the north, and the Troödos in the west and central regions. Copper ores are found on the northern and eastern slopes of the Troödos range, and have been exploited since the Early Bronze Age. The flatter land between the ranges and between the ranges and the sea has formed a focus for human occupation on the island for thousands of years.


The following lists a few key sites from each region from which the Ashmolean Museum contains objects.

  • Ayia Paraskevi (Early and Middle Cypriot tombs)
  • Limniti, (Archaic Sanctuary)
  • Kouklia [Old Paphos] (Hellenistic and Roman Temple of Aphrodite)
  • Paphos
  • Polis-tis-Khrysokhou [Marium] (Archaic, Classical and Hellenistic tombs)
  • Enkomi (Late Cypriot cemetery)
  • Salamis (Archaic sanctuary at Toumba; and Hellenistic-Roman gymnasium)
  • Kition (Ancient city)
  • Curion
  • Erimi (Chalcolithic settlement)
  • Ayios Epiktitos-Vrysi (Neolithic settlement)
  • Myrtou-Pigadhes (Late Cypriot settlement and sanctuary; and Geometric sanctuary)

Note: There has been considerable variation in the transliteration of place names from Greek to English over the past hundred years and more that the Ashmolean has been collecting material from Cyprus. Where possible, we refer to site names consistently. Where appropriate, we follow the format for archaeological site names with the name of the village on whose land the site is located occurring first, followed by the name of the site locality (e.g. Ayios Epiktitos-Vrysi; Myrtou-Pigadhes). It should be noted that many find locations are known only by a single village or locale name.

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