Cyprus Archaeology and Arts

The prehistoric Cypriot civilization (4000-1050 ca.) was divided into three periods: Neolithic-Chalcolithic (mid 8th-3rd millennium), Bronze (2800-1200), Iron (1200-1050); in the historical era, a period called geometric (1050 ca.-650 BC) is followed by the archaic (650-450), the classical (450-330), the Hellenistic (330-50), the Roman (50 BC – 395 AD).

Houses with a circular plan and pit burials are witnessed in the Neolithic (settlement of Khiro; kitìa) and in the Chalcolithic (4th-3rd millennium); phallic symbols in stone, female statuettes with pronounced breasts and hips, testify to the presence of fertility cults. The pottery also includes zoomorphic and anthropomorphic vases. Copper processing began already around 2000 BC (perhaps due to the influence of contacts with Asia Minor): in Pỳrgos-Mavroràki a workshop from the Early and Middle Bronze Age was found, in which all phases are witnessed. of copper processing. The houses of the Bronze Age had irregularly rectangular rooms, sometimes with courtyards, stone bases and clay bricks, flat roof, fixed hearth (Koùrion). The sanctuaries of the period of the Greek colonization were always in the open, with surrounding wall and one or more courtyards with altar and sometimes a small square chapel at the end. The civil architecture finds testimony in the Palazzo di Vunì (500-450 BC), with a peristyle with columns, at the bottom of which there are 3 rooms. The tombs, from the Bronze to the Roman period, are always a chamber dug into the rock, and present a rich funeral outfit, including Phoenician objects belonging to the Bronze and Iron periods. For Cyprus 2017, please check

Figurative art demonstrates that the island was the place where Western and Eastern civilizations merged, and where the artistic currents from Greece, Asia and Egypt were originally assimilated and reworked. It presents a realistic sense in the minute reproduction of details, alongside a strong stylization and frontality in the bodies. In plastic, from the initial production of lively terracotta figurines of men and animals, we passed in the 7th century. BC with clay and soft limestone statues of dedicators and divinities, depicted with arms tight at their hips or slightly stretched out in the offering or in prayer, while in the face there is a greater expressive research. The pottery of the Bronze period is shiny red with engraved decorations and plastic decorations (animals, life scenes); typical are the vases with a round body and long neck which continued until the Roman age. In the geometric period circles and crossed lines prevailed, and in the 8th century. the orientalizing influence with polychrome decoration was noticeable; later Greek pottery was imitated. The production of large terracotta or stone statues began, found in many sanctuaries on the island (of Astarte in Palaepaphos and Kitìon, by Apollo in Koùrion). The rich residences in the Paphos area (where there is also a necropolis and a sanctuary dedicated to Apollo), the Koùrion stadium, the theater, the gymnasium and the Salamis baths date back to the Roman occupation.

With the arrival of Greek colonists on the island, the Cypriot dialect, similar to Arcadian, took over the pre-Greek language existing there and unknown to us although documented. It finds a typical graphic expression in the Cypriot script, with a syllabic base, with 55 signs, mainly left-handed, used in inscriptions by Cyprus in both the Pre-Greek and Greek languages, from about 1550 to the 3rd century. BC Many of its signs are similar to others in Cretan linear writing.


Until the 13th century, Cypriot art and architecture took place in the Byzantine sphere, showing close contacts both with the Constantinopolitan currents and with those developed in the provinces and on the borders of the empire. From the 6th century. important testimonies remain in the mosaics of the Panagìa Kanakària, near Lithràngomi, and the Panagìa Angeloktìstos in Kìti. In the period of the iconoclastic controversy, the island offered asylum to many iconodule monks, despite the danger of Arab raids: the small church of Hàgios Solomòni preserves, a rare testimony of this period, frescoes that show close connections with the first monuments of Cappadocia. From the 11th century. there was a new artistic flowering with the foundation of new convents and churches, enriched by wall decorations and icons: churches of Asìnou and Trikòmo (early 12th century); Enkleìstra (hermitage) of Hàgios Neòphytos in Paphos; church of the monastery of Aràkas, Lagoùdera (late 12th century).

With the dominion of the Lusignano, the influence of art and especially of Western architecture, in the forms of French Gothic, is imposed in notable monuments: from the cathedral of Nicosia (13th-14th century; now a mosque) to that of Famagusta (14th century; now mosque), to the churches of SS. Pietro e Paolo (14th century, now a mosque) and of S. Giorgio dei Greci (Orthodox cathedral, with Western-influenced frescoes), also in Famagusta, at the beautiful abbey of Bellapaìs (13th-14th century). In the 16th century. there were numerous interventions by the Venetians, especially in civil and military construction. From the Turkish period, the small Library of Sultan Mahmud and the Arab Ammed mosque in Nicosia are interesting. The ceramic industry of Cyprus, particularly flourishing between the 14th and 16th centuries, and popular fabrics («Cyprus damask») are still to be remembered.

From the English colonial period (1878-1960) artists and architects trained abroad: in painting the ways of European art are often combined with traditional Byzantine or popular ones (A. Diamàntis, T. Kànthios); Fauvism and Cubism are originally interpreted by Cyprus Sàvva, constructivism informs the works of S. Vòtsis, surrealism those of G. Skoteìnos. abstract expressionism those of V. Hadjida. Among the architects active in the second half of the 20th century. we remember Cyprus Dikaìos who, alongside works that are linked to the Byzantine and medieval Cypriot tradition, created works strongly influenced by T. Garnier and A. Perret (Cooperative central bank, 1960, and Maronite church, 1961, in Nicosia); A. Behaeddin, who after his studies in İstanbul specialized in Germany and Great Britain, author of works marked by the teachings of W. Gropius and Le Corbusier (Turkish women’s high school, 1963, Nicosia; Özdal house, 1992, near Mòrfou).

Cyprus Houses

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