On the NW coast near the sea. The ruins cover a large area, part of which is now occupied by the village of Polis. Marion was founded on two low plateaus, both commanding a wide view over the narrow plain below and the Bay of Chrysochou beyond. Thus there was an E and a W city, the former being the first to be inhabited. Similarly its vast necropolis extended E and W. Remains of the ancient harbor still survive at Latsi.
Archaeological evidence indicates that the city was founded at the beginning of the Geometric period. The site of the earliest city should be located on a low hill E of the village of Polis. This is the E city. It is now a field of ruins under cultivation except for part of its S side, which is occupied by the modern gymnasium and Technical School of Polis. Close by is the E necropolis with tombs dating mainly from the Geometric and the archaic period. In late archaic times Marion spread to the W on a low hill called Petrerades, due N of Polis. This is the W city. This site too is now under cultivation or partly inhabited. South of it extends the W necropolis, dating from Classical and Hellenistic times.
The name Aimar appears in an Egyptian inscription at Medinet Habu of the time of Rameses III (1198-1167 B.C.), if the correlation with Marion were beyond dispute. The earliest known historical event mentioning Marion belongs to the Classical period, when in 449 B.C. the Athenian general Kimon freed the city from the Persians. On coins of the 5th and 4th c. B.C. are given in syllabic script not only the name of the king but also the name Marieus. Skylax the geographer (probably mid 4th c. B.C.) speaks of this city as *ma/rion *(ellhni/s (GGM 103).
After Alexander the Great, Stasioikos II, the last king of Marion, sided with Antigonos against Ptolemy and in 312 B.C. the city was razed by Ptolemy and the inhabitants transferred to Paphos. About the year 270 B.C. a new town, renamed Arsinoe (q.v.), was founded on the ruins of Marion by Ptolemy Philadelphus. This town flourished once more during the Hellenistic and Graeco-Roman periods and in Early Christian times it became the seat of a bishop.
Marion was one of the ancient kingdoms of Cyprus and we know the names of most of its kings from the 5th and 4th c. B.C. The city grew in importance at an early date, drawing its wealth from the nearby copper mines at Limne and from an intensive trade with Athens. The necropolis has produced large quantities of imported Attic pottery, an indication that there were close commercial and cultural relations with Athens. These tombs are also rich in gold jewelry. A fine marble kouros, now in the British Museum, also comes from Marion.
The earliest coins attributed to Marion date to the second quarter of the 5th c. B.C. These were struck by Sasmaos son of Doxandros. Coins were also minted by Stasioikos I (after 449 B.C.), Timocharis (end of the 5th c. B.C.), and Stasioikos II (330?-312 B.C.). Nothing is known of the kings between Timocharis and Stasioikos II.
Marion produced a large number of syllabic inscriptions dating from the 6th to the 4th c. B.C. They are inscribed on stelai found in tombs so that they are all funerary. None has been found so far on the city site. Alphabetic inscriptions occur also but they are Hellenistic and later.
Apart from some soundings made in 1929 and in 1960 in the W sector of the city no excavations were ever carried out within the city site. A large number of tombs, however, were excavated in the necropolis but none is now accessible. A general survey of the city site and its immediate surroundings was carried out in 1960 with interesting results. Surface finds dating from the Protogeometric period down to Hellenistic times were found at Peristeries, thus supporting the theory that the site of the earliest Marion should be sought here. The soundings at Petrerades N of Polis simply proved that at least part of the late archaic and Classical city is buried below the remains of Hellenistic Arsinoe.
The site of a sanctuary is known at the far end of a small ridge at Maratheri between the E and W cities. Casual finds date it from the archaic to Graeco-Roman times. This sanctuary may well be that of Zeus and Aphrodite, known from an inscription of the time of Tiberius which almost certainly came from this site. Strabo (14.683) speaks of a Sacred Grove to Zeus. It is interesting to note that some coins of King Stasioikos II show on the obverse the head of Zeus and on the reverse that of Aphrodite.
The harbor of Marion-Arsinoe lies ca. 4 km W of Polis and still shelters fishing boats. A massive breakwater still survives for a considerable length; it must have been much longer in antiquity, since a large part of the harbor has silted up. It was from this harbor that the trade with the West passed, especially the exportation of copper.
The finds are in the Nicosia and Paphos Museums. (K. NICOLAOU)
Info: Princeton Encyclopedia
(Princeton Encyclopedia of Classical Sites, from Perseus Project)