On the E coast of the island, ca. 6.5 km N of Famagusta. The ruins occupy an extensive area, ca. 150 ha, along the shore and for a considerable depth now covered by sand dunes and a forest. The harbor lies to the S near the mouth of the river Pedhiaios. Traces of the city wall of the archaic period have recently been discovered to the S. The vast necropolis lies in the plain W of the city and extends towards the villages of Enkomi, Haghios Serghios, and the Monastery of St. Barnabas.
The traditional founder was Teukros, son of Telamon, king of the Greek island of Salamis and one of the heroes of the Trojan War. He was also the founder of the Temple of Zeus Salaminios and the ancestor of its dynasty of priest-kings. A sepulchral epigram to him exists among those on the Homeric heroes. The dynasty of Teukridai ruled for a long time and even the kings of later times claimed descent from Teukros. This dynasty of priest-kings lasted down to the time of Augustus.
Salamis must have succeeded the Mycenaean city of Enkomi, ca. 2 km further inland, sometime in the 11th c. B.C. probably when the harbor of the latter was silted up. This earlier theory has now been corroborated by the recent discovery within Salamis itself of a Protogeometric tomb, and of 11th c. sherds found at the S sector of the city.
Salamis was the most important city in Cyprus and King Euelthon (560-525 B.C.) claimed to be ruler of the whole island. He was the first king of Cyprus to issue coins, and his silver staters of Persic standard show on the obverse a lying ram with the reverse at first smooth and then with an ankh. His name appears on the obverse in syllabic script.
His grandson Gorgos was reigning at the time of the Ionian Revolt (499-498 B.C.) but refused to rise against the Persians, so he was overthrown by his younger brother Onesilos, who succeeded in liberating most of the island for a while. Onesilos, however, fell in the battle that ensued on the plain of Salamis, and the Cypriots, after a year of freedom, were 'again enslaved to Persia'; (Hdt. 5.104, 108-15).
The most important of all the kings of Salamis, however, was Euagoras I (411n374-373 B.C.) for whom Isocrates wrote an oration (Evagoras). In an attempt to liberate Cyprus from the Persians Euagoras met with little resistance. He was a close ally of Athens and received much military help but in spite of all his initial successes he was forced to submit to the Great King although he did retain his throne as king of Salamis. Euagoras remained throughout his reign a friend of Athens and under his philhellenic policy Greek philosophers, artists, and musicians enjoyed the patronage of his court.
As a result of the Wars of the Successors Salamis was in 306 B.C. the scene of heavy fighting, both on land and sea, between Demetrios Poliorketes and Ptolemy I Soter for the possession of the city. It finally fell to Ptolemy, who soon took possession of the whole island. The city continued to flourish in Hellenistic and Graeco-Roman times and was embellished with important public buildings. During the Ptolemaic rule Salamis ceded its place to Paphos as the leading city of the island sometime in the 2d c. B.C. but in the 4th c. A.D. Salamis, now called Constantia, had once more superseded Paphos as the metropolis of Cyprus. The city became in Early Christian times the seat of a bishop and continued to flourish down to Early Byzantine times when it was gradually abandoned after the first Arab raids of 647 A.D.
The principal monuments uncovered towards the end of the 19th c., and again recently, include the gymnasium, the baths, the theater, the reservoir, the agora, the Temple of Zeus Olympios, part of the city wall, two Early Christian basilican churches and the Royal Tombs. Most of the ruins of this large city, however, remain unexcavated.
The Graeco-Roman gymnasium, originally built in Hellenistic times, was probably destroyed in the 4th c. A.D. earthquakes, after which it was restored as public baths. The central court, the palaistra, measuring 50 x 38 m and paved with opus sectile, is surrounded on all four sides by monolithic marble columns crowned by Corinthian capitals of various types which were salvaged from other derelict buildings when the gymnasium became the baths. The present columns originally carried arches of stone to support the roof which covered the portico. When first excavated this gymnasium was thought to be a marble forum.
The entrance to the gymnasium was through the S portico. On the step between the entrance columns is an inscription of the Hellenistic gymnasium. In the central part of the W wing, behind the portico, is a semicircular platform the floor of which lies about one m above the level of the floor of the portico. At the S end of this wing lie the gymnasium's latrines, a semicircular structure with a roof supported on columns; it had facilities for about 44 persons.
The E portico is larger and furnished with fluted columns higher than those along the other three sides of the court. At the N end of this portico, steps lead up into the N annex with a rectangular pool which replaced an earlier circular one. The sculptures now grouped there come from other parts of the gymnasium. In the middle of the E portico was found the marble altar of the gymnasiarch Diagoras, son of Teukros, in the 2d c. A.D. style. The large group of buildings to the E belongs to the period of the baths. There are still, in a relatively good state of preservation, hypocausts, sudatoria, caldaria, praefurnia, and large halls with niches decorated with mosaics, among others one depicting the river Eurotas and another Apollo slaying the children of Niobe.
The theater was built early in the Imperial period, probably during the reign of Augustus, but was repaired and remodeled during the 1st and 2d c. A.D. It has a semicircular orchestra measuring about 27 m in diameter; its cavea, measuring 104 m in diameter, consisted originally of over 50 rows of seats with a capacity of about 15,000 spectators. Of the stage-building little survives and the cavea has been restored in its greater part.
The stage-building consists of two parallel walls measuring ca. 40 m in length. The span between them, ca. 5 m, was covered with wooden planks at a height of ca. 2 m above the level of the orchestra. Rectangular colonettes offered additional supports to this wooden platform on which the actors performed. This was the proscenium, the facade of which was decorated with frescoes, traces of which survive in one of its niches. The back wall of the proscenium is a massive structure which supported the scenae frons; this was richly decorated with columns, statues, and honorific inscriptions. The theater, ca. 100 m to the S of the gymnasium, was connected with the latter by a colonnaded paved street.
Towards the S of the city is a group of buildings composed of the main reservoir, the agora and the Temple of Zeus Olympios. The reservoir adjoining the agora to the N consists of a large rectangle which had a vaulted roof supported on 39 piers in three rows. This is assigned to the reign of Septimius Severus and it appears that it was supplied with water from the spring at Kythrea some 56 km away. Traces of the aqueduct can still be seen in the plain between the village of Haghios Serghios and Salamis. Repairs to this aqueduct were made as late as the Early Byzantine period.
The Graeco-Roman agora between the reservoir and the Temple of Zeus Olympios measures 217 x 60 m. Considerable remains survive of the stone colonnades extending on either side of the central open space. The stone drums stood ca. 8.20 m high at intervals of 4.60 m and carried Corinthian capitals. Behind the two long porticos were rows of shops. On the S side of the agora lies the Temple of Zeus Olympios, originally built in Hellenistic times. The temple stands on a high stylobate and has a square cella at the rear. Fallen column-drums and Corinthian capitals of a considerable size suggest an impressive building.
Trial trenches at the S sector of Salamis near the harbor brought to light the existence of a complete system of defenses consisting of many parallel walls. The lower course of the walls was of stone, while the upper part was built of mudbricks. The city defenses at this point run E-W along the edge of the plateau, which overlooks the harbor. This circuit has been provisionally dated to the end of the Geometric and to the archaic period.
Substantial remains of the breakwaters of the harbor near the mouth of the river Pediaios still survive; however, most of the harbor itself has silted up.
Tombs dating from Late Geometric to Graeco-Roman times are known in the vast necropolis W of Salamis, but the most important of these are the archaic Royal Tombs, a number of which were excavated in recent years (1956 onwards). Unfortunately only the dromoi were found intact, the burial chambers having been looted long ago. The characteristic features of these tombs are their large dromoi, and their Homeric burial customs. One of these tombs, Tomb 50, is the so-called Prison or Tomb of Haghia Haikaterini. The sloping dromos, measuring 28 x 13 m, had its sides revetted with well-dressed stones. The skeletons of two yoked horses, their iron bits still in their mouths, and several vases were found in the dromos. The tomb in its original form dates from the 7th c. B.C.
Tomb 79 lies to the S of the Tomb of Haghia Haikaterini, and is beyond doubt the wealthiest tomb found thus far at Salamis. The chamber was built, like that of the tomb of Haghia Haikaterini, of two very large blocks of stone, rectangular in shape and with a gable roof. In front of the chamber there was a kind of propylaeum. This tomb dates from the end of the 8th c. B.C. but was reused in the 7th c. and still later during the Graeco-Roman period, so that the chamber was found looted of its earlier contents. The dromos, however, remained intact and its excavation proved most rewarding. The 8th c. burial was associated with the sacrifice of horses, and a chariot and a hearse were found in the dromos. In addition to the pottery the tomb furniture included three ivory chairs, of which only one was in fairly good condition, ivory plaques with relief decoration, a large bronze cauldron standing on an iron tripod decorated around the rim with griffin heads, bird-men, and sphinxes; also various bronze horse-bits, such as frontlets, blinkers, and breastplates, all decorated with figure representations. The 7th c. burial was also associated with chariot and horse burials.
A number of rock-cut tombs were recently excavated due S of the Royal Tombs. These tombs were enclosed by a peribolos wall. Of particular interest is the discovery of pyres in the dromos on which clay figurines and fruit were offered in honor of the dead. This custom was known in ancient Greek religion as pankarpia or panspermia. Several infant burials made in jars were brought to light. The jars are as a rule of Rhodian import but two came from Attica. The furniture of the tombs includes a number of beautiful vases of the 7th c. B.C. decorated with lotus flowers, alabaster vases, bronze mirrors, gold jewelry, seals, and scarabs.
Half-way between the Salamis forest and the Monastery of St. Barnabas, in the middle of the plain, lies a large tumulus of soil, Tomb 3. Above the tumulus traces of a beehive construction have been found, probably a reminiscence of the Mycenaean tholos tomb. The dromos measures 29 x 6 m. Remains of two chariots have been found in it. The four horses which drew the chariots were sacrificed with all their trappings. Various weapons were found including an iron sword, .92 m in length. The border of the broad tang was of silver soldered on the iron by means of copper. This tomb dates from ca. 600 B.C.
Another tumulus, Tomb 77, is to be seen close to the outskirts of the village of Enkomi. This one, however, dates from the end of the Classical period. Under the tumulus was an exedra of rectangular shape, built of mudbricks and measuring 17 x 11.50 m. Almost at the center of the exedra was found a large pyre in which were, among other objects, a number of fragments of life-size statues made of unbaked clay but hardened by fire. Among the five heads found, two seem to be portraits. Their style dates them to the end of the 4th c. B.C. These heads are acrolithic and there is evidence that they were mounted on wooden posts at the time of the funerary ceremony. No traces of burial have been found and the conclusion has been reached that this was a cenotaph, probably of Nikokreon, the last king of Salamis, who committed suicide with the members of his family in 311 B.C. and was buried under the ruins of the burnt palace because he would not submit to Ptolemy.
From the Hellenistic and Graeco-Roman necropolis come a number of funerary inscriptions. The finds are in the Nicosia and Famagusta Museums. (K. NICOLAOU) Wikipedia: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Salamis,_CyprusWikidata ID: Q767089Trismegistos Geo: 2075Manto: 10057213
Info: Princeton Encyclopedia
(Princeton Encyclopedia of Classical Sites, from Perseus Project)