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Les royaumes de Chypre à l’épreuve de l’histoire

 | 
Anna Cannavò
, 
Ludovic Thély

Partie II – Les royaumes de l’âge de Fer : approches topographiques et archéologiques

Ptolin Edalion: Transitions and Breaks in the Life of an Inland Cypriot City-State

Anna Satraki

Résumé

Après presque deux siècles d’activité archéologique intense dans la région du village moderne de Dali, un certain nombre de questions concernant la naissance et la consolidation géopolitique du royaume d’Idalion, situé à l’intérieur de l’île, reste sans réponse. L’objectif de la présente étude est d’examiner les données archéologiques et épigraphiques disponibles concernant la polis et la chora d’Idalion, de l’âge du Bronze Récent jusqu’à la fin de la période des cités-royaumes chypriotes, dans le but d’élucider l’organisation politique d’Idalion, aussi bien en tant que cité-royaume autonome, qu’en tant que partie d’une entité politique unitaire avec Kition.

Texte intégral

“Transitions et Ruptures”: Introducing the Case of Idalion

  • 1 See for example Iacovou 2007a and more recently Iacovou 2013b.
  • 2 On a synthesis on the copper exploitation and trade see recently Kassianidou 2013.
  • 3 Iacovou 2012b, p. 57.
  • 4 Iacovou 2007b.

1During the last few decades, the study of the Cypriot Late Bronze and Iron Age polities has overcome the events-oriented narrative approach and was broadened to include the search of an all-encompassing definition and interpretation of their political and economic autonomy.1 Within this framework, modern literature has established a set of prerequisites that determined the emergence and consolidation of a Cypriot Late Bronze and Iron Age polity. Based on a broad consensus, the sustaining of mechanisms that ensured the procurement and trade of copper was the decisive factor for the economic and political viability of an autonomous Cypriot polity of the late 2nd and 1st millennium BC.2 The arrangement of the urban polities “in a star-like pattern around the Troodos”3 is believed to be the result of the copper ores topography. Accordingly, the politico-economic sustainability of a Cypriot urban polity of either the Late Bronze or the Iron Age is believed to have depended on the accessibility and commanding of mineral resources, agricultural land and a trading harbor. Following the same scheme, the latter factor, namely the trading harbors – and their corresponding settlement – are presented to have eventually dominated over their territories and developed into regional urban centres.4

  • 5 For a holistic treatment of the 1400 year-long autonomous political organization of the island (170 (...)

2These observations form the solid basis for the study of the economic model that sustained and molded Cyprus’ 1400 year-long cycles of state formation – cycles that lasted until the end of the Cypro-Classical period and the subjugation of the island to its first colonial rule, the Ptolemies.5 Unavoidably, however, the discussion has to begin acknowledging the many different paths followed by each individual polity towards socio-political complexity until their eventual abolishment – because not all polities were the victims of the fierce struggles between Alexander’s diadochoi between 312 and 296 BC.

  • 6 For a synthesis on the archaeological evidence of the Cypriot urban centres of the Late Bronze and (...)
  • 7 Luckenbill 1926-1927, vol. 1, p. 265-266; Satraki 2012, p. 215.
  • 8 Satraki 2012, p. 293-294 for Idalion, p. 328-329 for Tamassos and p. 332 for Ledra.

3A pronounced discrepancy among the Iron Age Cypriot polities becomes evident when we consider that – apart from the coastal gateways that evolved into urban centres – a number of inland settlements managed to rise, for a shorter or longer period of time, to the status of administrative centres, in the sense that they were the seats of basileis and accordingly the primary settlements within territorial mini-states.6 It is maintained that these inland sites namely Idalion, Chytroi, Tamassos and Ledra (fig. 1) seem to have had a shorter lifespan as centres of primary importance and were sooner or later absorbed within stronger political units. However, their emergence as royal seats in the 7th century BC is amply manifested by no less than an official Neo-Assyrian document dated to 673 BC, inscribed on the well-known “Esarhaddon prism” that portrays Ekistura king of Edi’il (Idalion), Pilagura, king of Kitrusi (Chytroi), Atmesu, king of Tamesi (Tamassos) and Unasagusu, king of Lidir (Ledra) among the ten royal names and their seats identified as Cypriot loci.7 We are also informed by royal inscriptions issued by Cypriot basileis, that the political significance of at least Idalion and Tamassos (and we suspect the same for Ledra) was never obliterated in the era of the city-kingdoms – it was, rather, transformed.8

Fig.1 — The sites of the Iron Age urban polities of Cyprus.

Fig.1 — The sites of the Iron Age urban polities of Cyprus.

Digital data from the Cyprus Geological Survey Department, map drafted by Vassilis Trigkas.

  • 9 Iacovou 2014a, p. 98.

4The present paper seeks to collect and analyze the extant archaeological evidence (including inscriptions) aiming to identify the processes that allowed Idalion to develop into an autonomous city-state and maintain a central role within a large territory to the end of the Cypro-Classical period. The conspicuous absence of Idalion in the work of ancient historiographers, renowned for their selective and misinformed knowledge of Cyprus, may have spared its history from misconceptions that continue to torment the individual histories of other polities.9 In contrast to the dearth of references to Idalion in ancient sources, the continuous excavations at the municipality of modern Dali since the 19th century have generously provided primary and sound archaeological evidence elucidating the history of this inland polity. Therefore, in introducing this endeavor and before examining the idiosyncratic transitions that define Idalion’s history, a brief presentation of its archaeological evidence is in order.

The Archaeological Atlas of Idalion

  • 10 Gjerstad et al. 1935, p. 460-628, fig. 242, plans XVI-XVIII, pl. CLXII-CLXIV, CLXXXI-CLXXXVI; Webb (...)
  • 11 Masson 1983, no 217.
  • 12 Stager, Walker, Wright 1974, p. 5-13.
  • 13 Hadjicosti 1997a.
  • 14 Hadjicosti 1999, p. 37-38.

5What one sees nowadays from the Late Bronze and Iron Age landscape of Idalion are the excavated parts of built monuments dispersed on and between the two hills that dominate the southern area of the modern municipality, namely Ambelleri and Moutti tou Arvili (fig. 2). It was thanks to the Swedish Cyprus Expedition that the Ambelleri hill was firmly identified as the administrative acropolis of Idalion. On the topmost plateau of the hill they exposed the remains of a Late Bronze Age site that was interpreted as a fortified settlement with a temenos.10 The same site seems to have accommodated the Iron Age temenos of Athena, a goddess strongly connected to the ruling dynasties of the city as suggested by the text on the celebrated “Idalion tablet”, a priceless document issued by the royal administration of the city in the 5th century BC.11 Indeed, in close proximity, on a lower western plateau on the Ambelleri hill, the Swedish Expedition traced a monumental building, which was identified by Gjerstad himself as the Iron Age administrative centre. The Joint American Expedition also conducted trial excavations at the site of the western lower plateau and confirmed its identification as a “palace”.12 The impressive building was further revealed by the long-term excavations of the Department of Antiquities, conducted between 1991 and 2012 under the direction of Maria Hadjicosti.13 The Department of Antiquities excavations also brought to light an uninterrupted sequence of activity spanning the Late Cypriot IIIA to the Cypro-Archaic I period at a new Late Bronze Age site lying only 70 metres to the east of the administrative centre.14

Fig 2 — The ancient and modern topography of Idalion.

Fig 2 — The ancient and modern topography of Idalion.

Esri, DigitalGlobe, GeoEye, Earthstar Geographics, CNES/Airbus DS, USDA, USGS, AEX, Getmapping, Aerogrid, IGN, IGP, swisstopo, and the GIS User Community.

  • 15 Ohnefalsch-Richter 1891.
  • 16 See preliminary reports in RDAC since 1992.

6In addition to the Ambelleri hill, which functioned as the “administrative” acropolis of Idalion, Idalion’s urban landscape was dominated by another acropolis, the so-called Moutti tou Arvili, which is considered to have functioned as the “religious” acropolis, judging by the excavation of numerous sanctuaries in this area. Max Ohnefalsch-Richter unearthed several sanctuary sites, some allegedly located on Moutti tou Arvili, but it is almost impossible to locate most of these sanctuary sites today.15 An American mission under the direction of Pamela Gaber has been excavating a number of loci on the hill during the past three decades, exposing settlement, industrial and cultic sites but definite publication and interpretation of these areas are still pending.16

  • 17 Schulte-Campbel 1989.
  • 18 Hadjicosti 1999, p. 36.
  • 19 Hadjicosti 1999, p. 39 for the Cypro-Geometric period tombs excavated at the site of Eliouthkia tou (...)

7The “built” landscape of Idalion is surrounded to the north by an extensive necropolis of earth-cut chamber tombs and shallow pit-graves. It was most probably inaugurated in the course of the Late Bronze Age and continued to be used for the greater part of the 1st millennium BC. Tomb 1 excavated in 1976 by the American Expedition within the eastern part of the necropolis dates to the LCIIC period17 and so far marks the earliest known establishment in the area where the urban nucleus of the city-state was to develop. Other tombs of the Late Bronze Age were excavated by Ohnefalsch Richter and Peristianis at Petrera and Agios Georgios, further to the east but information about the contents and their location is extremely limited.18 The around 100 tomb assemblages excavated in the last decades by the Department of Antiquities span the time from the Cypro-Geometric to the Cypro-Classical period.19

  • 20 See for example Fourrier 2007a, p. 39-51.

8Forty years of uninterrupted archaeological activity within the municipality of modern Dali have rendered the monumentality of the urban centre of the Idalion polity archaeologically palpable. On the contrary, the extent of its periphery and the regional modes that guaranteed its political existence and economic prosperity remain poorly understood.20 In the following sections, I undertake a longue durée territorial approach aspiring to untangle the diachronic transformations in the settlement patterns of central Cyprus that resulted in the emergence and consolidation of Idalion as a regional centre, as a polis.

Idalion as a Polis

  • 21 Polignac 2000, p. 12.

9The word ptolis and ptolin Edalieon are found no less than eight times in the text of the “Idalion tablet”. According to modern historiography, polis is a political and social entity that is structured within a wider territory, with a central settlement, that is the seat of the administrative bodies.21 Based on the text we can infer that Idalion at the beginning of the 5th century BC was indeed the central settlement within an ill-defined territory, parts of which are formally referred to in the text; it was also the seat of the basileus and an officer, whose years of office were considered the formal chronological point of reference. The “Esarhaddon prism”, approximately two centuries earlier, sets a terminus for the establishment of Idalion as an administrative centre within its region. In the absence of earlier explicit textual or epigraphic documentation, how far back in time can the archaeological evidence support the ascendancy of Idalion as a polis? And, additionally, was Idalion the first settlement within the area referred to as central Cyprus to have acquired such an elevated political status?

  • 22 Catling 1982, p. 231.

10In the 1960s Hector Catling suggested that the settlement at Idalion was founded in succession to the cluster of sites that he had located on and around the plateau of Agios Sozomenos (fig. 3).22 These sites were dated - based solely on the evidence of the surface finds collected - to the period spanning the end of the Middle and the beginning of the Late Bronze Age. A new research project launched by Dr Despina Pilides (Department of Antiquities) only three years ago aims to combine the mapping of sites along the Gialias riverbed with the first systematic excavation of sites at Agios Sozomenos. The results of this highly promising endeavor will contribute towards a holistic understanding of the phenomena that pertain to the geopolitical transformations of the area under investigation during the Late Bronze Age. However, until new data appear, one needs to rely on the available evidence and most importantly on the compelling and consistent elements of the region’s topography in order to approach the longstanding phenomena that allowed the development of a royal centre at Idalion. Placing such phenomena on the map will prove to be a helpful starting point.

Fig.3 — The Gialias hydrological zone.

Fig.3 — The Gialias hydrological zone.

Digital data from the Cyprus Geological Survey Department, map drafted by Vassilis Trigkas.

  • 23 On the segmentation of the Cypriot landscape into distinct geographical regions consult Karouzis 20 (...)
  • 24 Crewe 2007a, p. 49-61; Peltenburg 1996.
  • 25 Devillers, Gaber, Lecuyer 2004, p. 85; Brown M. 2013, p. 122.

11Despite the relatively short distance between Agios Sozomenos and Idalion (only 5-6 kms) the two sites have significantly different geographical profiles. The plateau of Agios Sozomenos is located in the centre of the hydrological zone shaped around the Gialias River and its tributary, Alykos. This zone begins close to Analiondas and terminates at the easternmost end of the Mesaoria plain. To the north it is framed by the Pediaios hydrological zone that stems from Politiko (ancient Tamassos) and flows to the Famagusta bay (at Enkomi, if we wish to speak in Late Bronze Age terms). Both zones are sub-systems of the wider hydrological region of eastern Cyprus.23 Three of the Agios Sozomenos sites, although never excavated, were interpreted as “forts”, a term used to indicate short-lived fortified installations that sprang in the Cypriot landscape at the turn from the Middle to the Late Bronze Age.24 The evidence suggests that the Agios Sozomenos sites were engaged in the processing of agricultural commodities.25

  • 26 Webb, Frankel 1994.
  • 27 Dothan, Ben-Tor 1983.

12The same land- and water-ways along the Gialias and Alykos rivers accommodated other Late Bronze Age sites with important economic and ideological functions. At Analiondas-Palioklisia a centre for the management of the production and storage of agricultural surplus dating to the 13th century BC was located by surface survey operations.26 At approximately mid-way on the river Gialias route, at Athienou-Bamboulari tis Koukkouninas a sizeable area accommodated an industrial quarter dedicated to the production of copper, as well as to the storage of agricultural surplus and ritual practices.27 This highly specialized site that dates to the 13th-12th century BC, paradoxically does not seem to have been attached to a contemporary settlement in the area. Both sites seem to have operated in support of possibly the same regional exchange network. Given their location at crucial points along the land- and water-ways that connect Enkomi with the metalliferous Troodos pillow lavas, it could be suggested that they formed a group of secondary centres, dealing with staple finance, possibly connected with the urban centre of the eastern Mesaoria.

  • 28 A very important thesis on the evolution of establishments along the Tremithos and Pouzis rivers fr (...)
  • 29 Witzel 1979; Admiraal 1982.
  • 30 Leonard 2000, p. 122 and p. 128-129.
  • 31 Malmgren 2000.
  • 32 But see also Leonard 2000, p. 133-135 who questioned this approach and suggested that these sites a (...)

13Idalion, on the other hand, presents a rather different topographic profile. Ambelleri, the administrative acropolis of Idalion, was established on the highest point on the northern line of the watershed that defines the hydrological zone of the Tremithos river (fig. 4). Along with the Larnaka hydrological region, they form part of the wider hydrological zone of the southeastern part of Cyprus.28 During the 13th and 12th centuries BC, the Larnaka hydrological zone accommodated at least two urban coastal settlements, namely Hala Sultan Tekke and Kition. Could we infer by the topographic configuration of Idalion that its purpose for establishment was to link a coastal settlement in the southeast, possibly that of Hala Sultan Tekke which lies the closest, with the metalliferous Troodos pillow lavas found in the vicinity of Idalion? If so, then the Late Bronze Age settlement and cemetery sites situated within the sedimentary plains of the Larnaka lowlands, such as Dromolaxia-Trypes,29 Arpera Chiftlik30 and Klavdia-Tremithos,31 may have constituted a chain of settlements connecting the coastal emporium with the inland centre of this regional network. This admittedly hypothetical network may have operated in the context of the 12th century BC (the Late Cypriot IIIA period), when the settlement at Hala Sultan Tekke seems to have undergone the climax of its urban organization and its trade-related economic activities.32

Fig.4 — The Tremithos hydrological zone.

Fig.4 — The Tremithos hydrological zone.

Digital data from the Cyprus Geological Survey Department, map drafted by Vassilis Trigkas.

  • 33 See recently Georgiou 2011.
  • 34 For a list of possible Late Bronze Age sacred sites see Webb 1999.
  • 35 Gjerstad et al. 1935, p. 624.

14More importantly, also during the 12th century BC the settlement at Idalion appears to have developed on an organized plan on the hill of Ambelleri, the same hill that would accommodate centuries later the Iron Age administrative centre. Together with Sinda, Pyla-Kokkinokremos and Maa-Palaeokastro, Idalion appears in modern scholarship as a fortified settlement of the 12th century BC.33 Within the earliest occupation phase, the fortified nucleus of Idalion encompassed a sanctuary site, one among only sixteen securely identified sacred spaces of the Late Bronze Age in Cyprus.34 The earliest temenos atop the Idalion acropolis produced evidence pertaining to ritual food consumption and drinking activities; other finds of ideological significance include eight terracotta bull figurines and one made of ivory, gold jewelry and gold leafs, maceheads, seals and cylinder seals, copper and iron slag, a fragment of an ingot and an iron knife (fig. 5). All seem to have been ritually connected to the figure of the mighty bull.35 The evidence is unequivocal for the operation of an institutionalized, formal cult on the summit of the hill that soon after became the region’s administrative acropolis. The highly symbolic significance of the temenos’ paraphernalia points towards an organized society that was in charge of administering the copper procured in the catchment area and the management of the territory which contained the metalliferous zones.

Fig.5 — Assemblage in the west corner of Room XXXIV at Idalion-Ambelleri, Period 1.

Fig.5 — Assemblage in the west corner of Room XXXIV at Idalion-Ambelleri, Period 1.

After Gjerstad et al. 1935, fig. 242.

  • 36 Edgerton, Wilson 1936; Snodgrass 1994, p. 169.

15Simultaneously to the erection of what appears to be a public building on a prominent location at Idalion, evidently reflecting the investment of social resources and economic power, the polity’s name is for the first time attested on an Egyptian royal text. Idalion is mentioned, among seven other place-names from Cyprus on a catalogue inscribed on the Mortuary Temple of Ramesses III at Medinet Habu. This much neglected evidence revisited by Snodgrass in 1994, includes as many as eight place names transcribed as Salamis, Kition, Marion, Soloi, Idalion, Akamas, Kourion and Keryneia.36

The Foundation of Idalion: Geopolitical Transformations and the Mythos

  • 37 Negbi 1986.

16A synthesis of the above evidence suggests that Idalion rises as a significant centre during the Late Cypriot IIC which corresponds to the 13th century BC in terms of absolute chronology. The 13th century has been described as the climax of the Cypriot Late Bronze Age urbanization.37 This is a period of time when the demand for Cypriot copper from the surrounding Mediterranean states reached its peak. The intensification of the production of Cyprus’ foremost commodity accelerated the endogenous processes towards state formation and urbanization. Within this time-frame a new settlement was founded in a region that combines ample fertile agricultural land with immediate access to the metalliferous zones situated within the eastern foothills of the Troodos mountains.

  • 38 Hadjioannou 1971-1992, vol. I, p. 66, no 26.

17The key role of Idalion’s topography can be better assessed when we consider the myth associated with the foundation of the city. A narrative included in the Ethnika of Stephanus of Byzantium describes how the site was chosen by Chalkanor and his comrades following an oracle that disclosed that a polis should be established at the site where they would see the sun rise.38 To my knowledge this is the only foundation myth of a Cypriot Iron Age polis that makes special reference to the circumstances that determined the choice of site. Undoubtedly, despite the fact that it comes from a much later source, dating to the 5th century AD, the symbolic association of Idalion’s locus with a Man of Copper (chalkous aner > Chalkanor) must have been formed during a period when copper and its procurement were strongly associated with Idalion, namely before the 4th century BC or shortly later when the economy of copper was still a vivid memory.

  • 39 Iacovou et al. 2008, p. 286; Satraki [à paraître].
  • 40 Georgiou G. 2007, p. 468-470.

18Without a doubt, the myth of Chalkanor links the locus of Idalion with the site’s strong potential in relation to the copper-based economy. I would consider the foundation of Idalion as the final and most crucial among the geopolitical transformations that were taking place in central Cyprus from the Middle Bronze Age, when settlements, such as Alambra-Mouttes were abandoned in favor of larger inland nuclei such as Deneia and Agia Paraskevi (fig. 6).39 The latter two sites were also abandoned during the course of the Late Bronze Age and it is largely believed that their closing was due to the decision of their populations to reinforce the newly-founded coastal centres that were steadily becoming the nuclei of the new pan-Cypriot economic model that was based on the export trade of copper.40 The foundation of Idalion was apparently right from the start a process that aimed to the establishing of a regional economic centre. This leads to the conclusion that the dynamic regional transformations that were taking place in the course of the Late Bronze Age as part of the island’s earliest cycle of state formation were not exclusively aiming to the ascendance of the coastal gateways as the sole regional administrative centres of the island. The geopolitical idiosyncrasies of central Cyprus necessitated the emergence of a regional management centre. In the complete absence of evidence as regards the foundation horizon of Chytroi, Ledra and Tamassos, Idalion appears as the sole inland settlement to have attained the status of a potential regional centre already in the Late Bronze Age.

Fig. 6 — Bronze Age sites in central Cyprus.

Fig. 6 — Bronze Age sites in central Cyprus.

Digital data from the Cyprus Geological Survey Department, map drafted by Vassilis Trigkas.

The Early Iron Age: The Crystallization of a Religious and Political Identity

  • 41 Hadjicosti 1999, p. 36-37.
  • 42 Karageorghis 1965, p. 185-199.
  • 43 Gjerstad et al. 1935, p. 462 and p. 634-641; Hadjicosti 1999, p. 39.
  • 44 On a recent synthesis on the 12th century BC transformations in the urban landscape of Cyprus consu (...)
  • 45 Åström 1986, p. 8.
  • 46 Iacovou 2008c, p. 231.

19The uninterrupted sequence of activity in the new Late Bronze Age site on the Ambelleri from the Late Cypriot IIIA to the Cypro-Archaic period41 along with the evidence of tombs that date from the Late Cypriot IIIB period (Tomb 2 at Agios Georgios)42 and span the Cypro-Geometric period43 point out to the fact that Idalion did not collapse in the course of the 12th century as was the case with other Late Cypriot IIC centres and their regions.44 Most critically for Idalion, in the course of the 12th century BC Hala Sultan Tekke was abandoned, presumably due to the silting of its harbor.45 The population of the deserted urban centre seems to have been accommodated in the nearby urban centre of Kition reinforcing its political and economic mechanisms.46 However, the abandonment of Hala Sultan Tekke must have affected the settlements within its catchment area as the network of sites that connected its harbor with the mainland copper ores were abandoned and therefore a regional network appears to have collapsed to its entirety.

  • 47 Gjerstad et. al. 1935, p. 624 and p. 627-628.
  • 48 Gjerstad et. al. 1935, p. 534, no 106, pl. 173; p. 537, no 208, pl. 171; p. 556, no 897; p. 559, no(...)

20However, Idalion did not follow this paradigm. On the contrary, the site follows a trajectory towards social and political complexity. Finds dating to the Cypro-Geometric I-II periods from the top of the Ambelleri, indicate the uninterrupted use of the site from the Late Bronze Age into the Iron Age.47 A temenos built at the site of the Late Bronze Age sacred building indicates continuity of the cult while the ritual paraphernalia indicate that there was also continuity in the nature of the cult (fig. 7). The finds that date to the Cypro-Geometric III – Cypro-Archaic I periods are once again (just like in the Late Bronze Age phase of the temenos) mostly weapons and tools: swords, axes, spearheads and arrowheads, fragments of shields and armor, helmets and knives.48 The offerings appear to continue from the Late Bronze Age traditions and provide symbolic connections to copper and its importance for the polis.

Fig. 7 — The southern (uppermost) part of the Ambelleri acropolis with the architectural remains of the Athena sanctuary.

Fig. 7 — The southern (uppermost) part of the Ambelleri acropolis with the architectural remains of the Athena sanctuary.

After Gjerstad et al. 1935, plan V.

  • 49 Amandry 1994, no 4-6; Masson, Sznycer 1972, p. 108-111.
  • 50 Masson 1983, nos 217 and 218; Masson 1994, nos 45 and 46.
  • 51 Ulbrich 2005; Bazemore 2009.
  • 52 Gjerstad et al. 1935, p. 628.
  • 53 Carbillet 2011.

21There was also an evident continuity in terms of the nature of the divinity venerated in Idalion’s sacred area. A hoard of bronze objects – some of which with Phoenician and Greek Cypro-syllabic inscriptions, including the bronze “Idalion tablet” – was found on the administrative acropolis in the 19th century. These objects may have been originally associated with the temenos on the top of the acropolis as the context of the inscriptions seems to suggest. The earliest of these, one of a pair of bronze horse blinkers dating to the 8th century BC and a bronze spear-stand dating to the 7th century BC, bear in Phoenician the name of a Goddess. The name is not the usual anonymous invocation theos, Anassa or Kypris; it is the name of Anat.49 A couple of centuries later she is identified in two Greek syllabic inscriptions, one on the Idalion tablet and the other on a handle of a bronze weapon (also included in the same hoard), with Athena.50 Both Anat in the Canaanite littoral and Athena in the Greek speaking world are warlike figures, in charge of the city’s protection.51 As Gjerstad affirmed already in 1935: “The cult of this Idalian goddess was […] the religious symbol of the existence of the city as an independent state”.52 The crystallization of the city’s main cult and its warlike and city-protector attributes (attributes that follow a long tradition back to the Late Bronze Age) is the ultimate evidence of an established political ideology. This is undoubtedly an ideology promoted by the royal dynasty of Idalion and its basileis, who just like their Amathousian peers (and their strong connection to Hathor)53 sought to enhance their power and protect their polity’s assets through the use of a mighty divine figure. The precious divine symbolisms and the associated royal ideology were proven to be more resilient than the fragile Idalion dynasty itself.

Kition and Idalion: Towards a New Geopolitical Landscape

  • 54 Hadjicosti 1999, p. 38.
  • 55 Karageorghis 1964.
  • 56 Satraki 2012, p. 286 for a synthesis of the numismatic evidence of Idalion, with bibliography. See (...)
  • 57 Masson 1983, no 217.

22By the time of Esarhaddon’s prism (673/4 BC) and the earliest mention to a basileus of Idalion, namely Akestor, there is a plethora of archaeological data to sustain the political and ideological consolidation of the Idalion polis. By the 7th century BC the earliest edifice at the site of the Classical administrative centre was erected54 and a built (royal?) tomb was founded in the cemetery.55 Coinage with the distinctive symbols of the local dynasty provides evidence of Idalion’s economic autonomy at the end of the 6th and the first half of the 5th century BC.56 The text on the bronze “Idalion tablet” provides a treasure trove of information along with ample documentation on the polity’s capacity to control its territory.57 Some of the terms enlisted in the Idalion tablet describe royal or public land and give precise reference to parts of land, thus sustaining the consolidation of the Idalion territory and its political cohesion. More importantly, this royal “contract” was deposited under the protection of Athena, who like Hathor at Amathous, had emerged as the protector of Idalion and its political institutions.

  • 58 Hermary 1996.
  • 59 Iacovou 2013c, p. 148.

23In the context of the Early Iron Age, the urban centre of Idalion is considered to have formed part of a new network of sites – including Kition – that would connect the inland centre with a trading harbor and would provide final destination to the copper effectively procured within its chora. However, it remains difficult to ascertain how this economic network might have functioned in political terms during the first part of the 1st millennium BC, especially since the political autonomy of Kition before the 5th century BC is a highly disputed matter. In the light of the absence of royal inscriptions and coinage issued by kings of Kition before the mid-5th century BC, Antoine Hermary suggested that Kition had not elevated to the status of a royal seat before the 5th century BC.58 Based on this suggestion Maria Iacovou has recently proposed that throughout the 1st millennium BC Kition and Idalion formed part of a single political entity and that either Idalion (in the first part of the Iron Age) or Kition (in the latter part of the era) were primary capital centres within this unified polity.59 This remains an interesting interpretation since it takes into account Idalion’s need of a trading port and Kition’s requirement to access the resources found inland. However, the economic and political merging of Idalion and Kition is definitely documented only from the middle of the 5th century BC onwards.

  • 60 All inscriptions issued by kings of Kition and inscriptions that make reference to kings of Kition (...)
  • 61 Yon 2004b, nos 45 and 46.
  • 62 Yon 2004b, nos 45, 68, 69, 180 and 181.
  • 63 Yon 2004b, no 1144.

24Idalion’s annexation by Kition, which undoubtedly signaled the most dramatic disruption in the polity’s history, paradoxically entails a series of continua. First of all, the name of Idalion was maintained and was incorporated in the title of the king (mlk) of Kition, who thus proclaimed the geopolitical extent of his authority.60 In reality, Baalmilk I is the only recorded “king of Kition”.61 Without any exceptions, all of Baalmilk’s I successors (Azbaal, Baalmilk II, Milkyaton and Pumayyaton) bear the title of the “king of Kition and Idalion” on all epigraphic data issued by the royal dynasty. Moreover, apart from Azbaal, the king who supposedly accomplished the annexation of Idalion and from whom no inscriptions are known, each and every one of the following kings of Kition and Idalion and also wanax Baalrom, dedicated at least one votive with an inscription to sanctuaries that lied within the Idalion urban nucleus.62 It is noteworthy that while five royal inscriptions issued by kings of Kition and Idalion were dedicated to an Idalion sanctuary, only one is known to have been dedicated at Kition.63

  • 64 Recent publication of this old excavation conducted by R. Hamilton Lang in 1868-69, in Senff 1993.
  • 65 For two different approaches regarding the interpretation of these figures see Hermary 2005 and Sat (...)

25Most of these royal dedications were found at the sanctuary of Apollo-Reshep Mikal, located between the two acropoleis of Idalion, on a route that most probably led to Kition already in ancient times.64 The same sanctuary was the findspot of a plethora of male figures which were dedicated to the god venerated during the end of the 6th and the first half of the 5th century BC, therefore pre-dating the royal inscriptions. These figures, which stand out for their great artistic value, were probably dedicated by eminent members of the royal dynasty of Idalion that ruled the polis until the mid-5th century.65 In such a case, the fact that they were neither removed nor destroyed at the time of Idalion’s annexation, but retained their prominent position next to the dedications of the kings of Kition and Idalion underscores the desire of the new dynasty to create a linkage with the previous one. The aspiration behind this symbolically proclaimed continuity may have been to effectively absorb the Idalion territory and its natural assets, evidently the ultimate goal underlying its conquering.

  • 66 Yon 2004b, no 45 = Satraki 2012, p. 404-405.

26Moreover, by the time of Idalion’s annexation by Kition, the inextricable link of the polis with its protector Athena-Anat, had proven to be so resilient that not even the new order of things could upturn it. On the contrary, the new dynasty acknowledged the importance of Athena-Anat, who constituted an ideological component of the territorial control of the Idalion catchment area. As evidenced by a Phoenician inscription dedicated by king Baalmilk II to Athena, Kition appears to have further promoted the cult of the deity associated with Idalion.66

Transformations of the Territory

  • 67 Satraki 2012, p. 348-349 and p. 373-374.

27With the annexation of Idalion’s centre and periphery, we presume that the “Kition and Idalion” polity extended from the Pentaskoinos river to the east, where Amathous’ cultural sphere seems to wither to Pyla to the west, where a built tomb of the Cypro-Classical period, perhaps of a local wanax, points towards the importance of the site as a landmark between Kition and Salamis.67 Can we infer how far of the inland territory was under the control of the new polity?

  • 68 On the territorial consolidation of the Cypriot Iron Age polities see especially the work of Fourri (...)
  • 69 Yon 2004b, no 1002.
  • 70 Yon 2004b, nos 181 and 1029.
  • 71 Pilides 2004, p. 157.

28The process towards the territorial consolidation of the Cypriot polities must have been long and dynamic.68 Starting from the Late Bronze Age, the evidence allows us to discern networks of settlements and sites operating as nodal points within local routes of trade and exchange. However, it is difficult to speak of political cohesion within such economic territories during this early stage of state formation in Cyprus. Firm political boundaries may never have existed in the 2nd and 1st millennium BC Cyprus but the 5th and 4th century BC Cypriot polities seem to have had the capacity to employ central government to control large territories. In my opinion, it is only during the latest phase of the Cypriot autonomous polities that the inland territories could relate to the political identity of a royal centre to which they were geopolitically attached. This is evidenced by the addition in the royal title of Pumayyaton of the name of Tamassos in the 21st year of his reign.69 An inscription assigned to an earlier date (8th year of his reign) and another dating to a later period (34th year of his reign)70 clearly manifest that Tamassos did not belong to the kingdom of Kition and Idalion before 355 BC and after 328 BC. In a very eloquent way, the epigraphic evidence underscores the critical contrast between Tamassos being part of the territorial extent of Kition and Idalion and not being part of that polity. In addition, the fact that Tamassos was annexed only for a short period of time (less than 25 years) to the polity of Kition and Idalion is evidence of an indisputable fact: that just like in the Late Bronze Age, the network of sites that flourished along the Pediaios waterway in the Iron Age lay outside the control of Idalion and also of “Kition and Idalion”. That is also substantiated by the recent excavations of the Department of Antiquities (directed by Despina Pilides) at the site known as “Hill of Agios Georgios (PA.SY.D.Y)” at Nicosia. The hoard of silver coins uncovered from the settlement contained issues from Soloi and Salamis, but none from Idalion or Kition.71

  • 72 Fourrier 2013.
  • 73 Ulbrich 2008, pl. 34 and pl. 46.

29It is widely accepted that sanctuaries proliferated in the course of the Cypro-Archaic period as part of the territorialization process of the Cypriot polities and as extensions of the urban centres themselves.72 An analysis of the geographical configuration of the Cypro-Archaic and Cypro-Classical period sanctuaries in central Cyprus in relation to other categories of material culture (such as inscriptions, diffusion of coins and styles in terracotta and ceramics production) might prove to be productive in the quest of the territories of the polities of Salamis, Soloi and Idalion and later “Kition and Idalion”. At a first glance, it is important to point out that sanctuary sites were located within the southern suburbs of Nicosia and to the north of modern Dali but none was located in the areas lying in between: in other words, no sanctuary sites were located between the waterways of the Alykos river to the north and Gialias to the south.73

  • 74 See also Satraki 2012, p. 147.

30The sites located along the Gialias river, perhaps belonging to the peri-urban territories of Idalion, were connected through the water and land-ways to the spring of the river close to Analiondas to the west and with the Agios Sozomenos plateau to the east. During the Late Bronze Age and before the establishment of the earliest settlement at Idalion, the settlements and sites along Gialias may have formed a network of nodes connected to Enkomi.74 If this is true, then the establishment of Idalion as a regional centre at the end of the Late Bronze Age must have significantly deteriorated the inland potential of Enkomi, and later Salamis, as Idalion seems to have fully assimilated the Gialias network by the Cypro-Classical period.

  • 75 Yon 2004b, nos 70 and 71.
  • 76 Satraki 2012, p. 329.

31Ultimately, this is perhaps the reason underlying the dedication of the two bilingual (Phoenician and Greek Arcadocypriot) inscriptions at the sanctuary at Frangissa, at modern Analiondas (and not Politiko as usually designated), excavated by Max Ohhnefalsch-Richter (fig. 8).75 The two inscriptions refer to the dedication of two statuettes at the sanctuary during the 17th and the 30th year of the reign of king Milkyaton. As far as I know, reference to the years of the reign of kings of Kition and Idalion have so far only been discovered within the urban fabric or the territory of the two centres. If we consider that the chronological designation is only meaningful when attested within the territory of the polity within which it was produced, then these two inscriptions indicate that the Frangissa sanctuary was located – perhaps as a “frontier sanctuary” – within the territory controlled by the kings of Kition and Idalion.76 Therefore, if we imagine a line connecting Analiondas with Agios Sozomenos defining the northern frontier of Idalion, then the plain to the north and the Pediaios valley must have formed a vital territory of Salamis.

Fig 8 — The site of the Frangissa sanctuary, excavated by M. Ohnefalsch-Richter.

Fig 8 — The site of the Frangissa sanctuary, excavated by M. Ohnefalsch-Richter.

Digital data from the Cyprus Geological Survey Department, map drafted by Vassilis Trigkas.

Epilogue

32The present study is based on the published archaeological record of Idalion and its surrounding areas. Long-term archaeological projects such as the Department of Antiquities’ annual and rescue excavations on the Ambelleri hill and within the necropolis and the American mission’s fieldwork operations on both acropoleis have revealed a substantial amount of archaeological evidence whose study and publication are in progress and therefore not available to research yet. We anticipate that the full publication of the new archaeological and epigraphic evidence will radically expand our knowledge on the political and economic environment that shaped the historical route of the Late Bronze and Iron Age polity of Idalion. I would suspect, however, that one notion will not be disproved: Idalion’s impressive longevity as a political centre – a notion that challenges a long-established dogma that inland centres were by definition destined to succumb to stronger coastal settlements. This longevity must stem from the construction of a strong regional identity evident long after the abolition of the island’s autonomous political organization and the loss of Idalion’s status as a polis – as a matter of fact up until today. Besides, what could be more compelling evidence than the fact that the kings of Kition insightfully incorporated their political existence into the political life of Idalion instead of choosing to overthrow it?

Notes

1 See for example Iacovou 2007a and more recently Iacovou 2013b.

2 On a synthesis on the copper exploitation and trade see recently Kassianidou 2013.

3 Iacovou 2012b, p. 57.

4 Iacovou 2007b.

5 For a holistic treatment of the 1400 year-long autonomous political organization of the island (1700-300 BC) see Satraki 2012.

6 For a synthesis on the archaeological evidence of the Cypriot urban centres of the Late Bronze and Iron Age see Satraki 2012.

7 Luckenbill 1926-1927, vol. 1, p. 265-266; Satraki 2012, p. 215.

8 Satraki 2012, p. 293-294 for Idalion, p. 328-329 for Tamassos and p. 332 for Ledra.

9 Iacovou 2014a, p. 98.

10 Gjerstad et al. 1935, p. 460-628, fig. 242, plans XVI-XVIII, pl. CLXII-CLXIV, CLXXXI-CLXXXVI; Webb 1999, p. 84-91.

11 Masson 1983, no 217.

12 Stager, Walker, Wright 1974, p. 5-13.

13 Hadjicosti 1997a.

14 Hadjicosti 1999, p. 37-38.

15 Ohnefalsch-Richter 1891.

16 See preliminary reports in RDAC since 1992.

17 Schulte-Campbel 1989.

18 Hadjicosti 1999, p. 36.

19 Hadjicosti 1999, p. 39 for the Cypro-Geometric period tombs excavated at the site of Eliouthkia tou Kouzourtou. 63 tombs were excavated by the writer of the present article and their study for publication in collaboration with Dr Anna Georgiadou is in process.

20 See for example Fourrier 2007a, p. 39-51.

21 Polignac 2000, p. 12.

22 Catling 1982, p. 231.

23 On the segmentation of the Cypriot landscape into distinct geographical regions consult Karouzis 2000.

24 Crewe 2007a, p. 49-61; Peltenburg 1996.

25 Devillers, Gaber, Lecuyer 2004, p. 85; Brown M. 2013, p. 122.

26 Webb, Frankel 1994.

27 Dothan, Ben-Tor 1983.

28 A very important thesis on the evolution of establishments along the Tremithos and Pouzis rivers from the Late Bronze Age to the Roman period drafted by Frixos Markou remains unpublished: Markou F. 2013.

29 Witzel 1979; Admiraal 1982.

30 Leonard 2000, p. 122 and p. 128-129.

31 Malmgren 2000.

32 But see also Leonard 2000, p. 133-135 who questioned this approach and suggested that these sites along the Tremithos and Pouzis rivers may have functioned independently of the major centres.

33 See recently Georgiou 2011.

34 For a list of possible Late Bronze Age sacred sites see Webb 1999.

35 Gjerstad et al. 1935, p. 624.

36 Edgerton, Wilson 1936; Snodgrass 1994, p. 169.

37 Negbi 1986.

38 Hadjioannou 1971-1992, vol. I, p. 66, no 26.

39 Iacovou et al. 2008, p. 286; Satraki [à paraître].

40 Georgiou G. 2007, p. 468-470.

41 Hadjicosti 1999, p. 36-37.

42 Karageorghis 1965, p. 185-199.

43 Gjerstad et al. 1935, p. 462 and p. 634-641; Hadjicosti 1999, p. 39.

44 On a recent synthesis on the 12th century BC transformations in the urban landscape of Cyprus consult Georgiou 2011.

45 Åström 1986, p. 8.

46 Iacovou 2008c, p. 231.

47 Gjerstad et. al. 1935, p. 624 and p. 627-628.

48 Gjerstad et. al. 1935, p. 534, no 106, pl. 173; p. 537, no 208, pl. 171; p. 556, no 897; p. 559, no 1068; p. 560, no 1132, pl. 173.

49 Amandry 1994, no 4-6; Masson, Sznycer 1972, p. 108-111.

50 Masson 1983, nos 217 and 218; Masson 1994, nos 45 and 46.

51 Ulbrich 2005; Bazemore 2009.

52 Gjerstad et al. 1935, p. 628.

53 Carbillet 2011.

54 Hadjicosti 1999, p. 38.

55 Karageorghis 1964.

56 Satraki 2012, p. 286 for a synthesis of the numismatic evidence of Idalion, with bibliography. See also recently: Markou 2015a, p. 114-115.

57 Masson 1983, no 217.

58 Hermary 1996.

59 Iacovou 2013c, p. 148.

60 All inscriptions issued by kings of Kition and inscriptions that make reference to kings of Kition are included in Satraki 2012, p. 404-413.

61 Yon 2004b, nos 45 and 46.

62 Yon 2004b, nos 45, 68, 69, 180 and 181.

63 Yon 2004b, no 1144.

64 Recent publication of this old excavation conducted by R. Hamilton Lang in 1868-69, in Senff 1993.

65 For two different approaches regarding the interpretation of these figures see Hermary 2005 and Satraki 2012, p. 290-293.

66 Yon 2004b, no 45 = Satraki 2012, p. 404-405.

67 Satraki 2012, p. 348-349 and p. 373-374.

68 On the territorial consolidation of the Cypriot Iron Age polities see especially the work of Fourrier 2007a; Fourrier 2013; Papantoniou 2012b and Papantoniou 2013a.

69 Yon 2004b, no 1002.

70 Yon 2004b, nos 181 and 1029.

71 Pilides 2004, p. 157.

72 Fourrier 2013.

73 Ulbrich 2008, pl. 34 and pl. 46.

74 See also Satraki 2012, p. 147.

75 Yon 2004b, nos 70 and 71.

76 Satraki 2012, p. 329.

Table des illustrations

Titre Fig.1 — The sites of the Iron Age urban polities of Cyprus.
Crédits Digital data from the Cyprus Geological Survey Department, map drafted by Vassilis Trigkas.
URL http://books.openedition.org/efa/docannexe/image/2991/img-1.png
Fichier image/png, 892k
Titre Fig 2 — The ancient and modern topography of Idalion.
Crédits Esri, DigitalGlobe, GeoEye, Earthstar Geographics, CNES/Airbus DS, USDA, USGS, AEX, Getmapping, Aerogrid, IGN, IGP, swisstopo, and the GIS User Community.
URL http://books.openedition.org/efa/docannexe/image/2991/img-2.png
Fichier image/png, 1,9M
Titre Fig.3 — The Gialias hydrological zone.
Crédits Digital data from the Cyprus Geological Survey Department, map drafted by Vassilis Trigkas.
URL http://books.openedition.org/efa/docannexe/image/2991/img-3.png
Fichier image/png, 3,1M
Titre Fig.4 — The Tremithos hydrological zone.
Crédits Digital data from the Cyprus Geological Survey Department, map drafted by Vassilis Trigkas.
URL http://books.openedition.org/efa/docannexe/image/2991/img-4.png
Fichier image/png, 3,0M
Titre Fig.5 — Assemblage in the west corner of Room XXXIV at Idalion-Ambelleri, Period 1.
Crédits After Gjerstad et al. 1935, fig. 242.
URL http://books.openedition.org/efa/docannexe/image/2991/img-5.png
Fichier image/png, 209k
Titre Fig. 6 — Bronze Age sites in central Cyprus.
Crédits Digital data from the Cyprus Geological Survey Department, map drafted by Vassilis Trigkas.
URL http://books.openedition.org/efa/docannexe/image/2991/img-6.png
Fichier image/png, 2,6M
Titre Fig. 7 — The southern (uppermost) part of the Ambelleri acropolis with the architectural remains of the Athena sanctuary.
Crédits After Gjerstad et al. 1935, plan V.
URL http://books.openedition.org/efa/docannexe/image/2991/img-7.png
Fichier image/png, 397k
Titre Fig 8 — The site of the Frangissa sanctuary, excavated by M. Ohnefalsch-Richter.
Crédits Digital data from the Cyprus Geological Survey Department, map drafted by Vassilis Trigkas.
URL http://books.openedition.org/efa/docannexe/image/2991/img-8.png
Fichier image/png, 2,2M

Auteur

I would like to thank the organizers of the Conference, Anna Cannavò and Ludovic Thély, for kindly inviting me to participate in this important event and for suggesting Idalion “à l’épreuve de l’histoire” as the subject of my contribution. My wholehearted thanks go to Artemis Georgiou for her insightful comments on the text and for greatly improving the English translation. I am grateful to Maria Hadjicosti, former Director of the Department of Antiquities, for allowing me to participate in the excavation of the administrative centre of Idalion in 2005-2011 and for sharing her expertise during the course of the excavation seasons. Even more so I am indebted to her for entrusting me to direct the 2011-2012 rescue excavations in the eastern part of the Idalion necropolis. My first-hand experience with the land and the people of modern Idalion formed the sound basis of my endeavours to grasp the antiquity of this territory.

© École française d’Athènes, 2018

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