Cyprus, an island in the Eastern Mediterranean, at the cross-roads of three

               continents - Europe, Asia and Africa - has one of the oldest histories of the

               world, dating back 9000 years.

               Its strategic position, its wealth in forests and mineral deposits, as well as its

               skilled craftsmen, made it the prized possession of the powers of the day.

               Cultural influences came from all directions - all major regional civilisations left

               their mark on the island, contributing to the development of a very rich and

               diverse cultural  heritage. 

                                 ANCIENT TIMES

              The Stone Age

              The first signs of human life on the island date back to c. 8500 BC during the

              Palaeolithic period. Evidence of human activity was found in cave dwellings near

              Liopetri, though it is not known whether they were just hunting parties passing

              through or permanent settlers.

              The first undisputed settlements are believed to have been established towards

              the end of  the 8th millennium BC.  Vestiges of such early communities are found

              all over the island, such as at Khirokitia, Kalavasos-Tenta, Apostolos Andreas-

              Kastros, Phrenaros, Petra tou Limniti.

              Neolithic Cypriots built circular houses

              with small undressed stones for the

              lower structures and sun-dried

              mudbricks and  clay for the middle and

              superstructure. The Khirokitia neolithic

              settlement in Larnaca district stands out

              as a striking example of prehistoric



                                              The Neolithic settlement of Khirokitia

              The Bronze/ Copper Age

              Large copper deposits brought fame and wealth to the island and may have even

              given it its name. It has been documented that during the bronze age Cyprus had

              intense commercial relations with the main commercial and cultural centres of that

              time. During this period metallurgy and pottery flourished while close relations

              developed, particularly with Crete, which are also expressed in the

              Cypro-Minoan script which appeared in Cyprus around 1500 BC.

              Of special significance for the future of Cyprus was its colonisation around 1200

              BC by  Mycenaean  and Achaean Greeks, a migration process that lasted for

              more than a century.  They brought with them to the island the Hellenic language,

              culture and religion. Legend has it that the first Hellenes who settled in Cyprus

              were heroes of the Trojan war. The arrival of the Achaeans greatly influenced

              town planning, architecture, and pottery. Since then Cyprus has remained

              predominantly Greek in culture, language and population despite influences

              resulting from successive occupations.

              Iron Age

              More and more people from the Greek world came to live in Cyprus.  They built

              city along the lines of the Greek ones.  There were about eleven city kingdoms in

              all:  Kourion, Paphos, Soloi, Marion, Lapithos, Salamis, Kition, Kyrenia,

              Amathus, and Idalion.

              Although Cyprus was conquered by other peoples, these city kingdoms mostly

              ruled themselves, paying taxes to their conquerors. The island was conquered in

              succession by the Assyrians, the Egyptians and the Persians (800-332 BC).

              The Classical Period

              For more than a century, Cyprus was caught in the middle of the power struggle

              between Greece and Persia. In the 6th century BC Persia became the dominant

              power and the kings of Cyprus, while being allowed to retain their autonomy,

              were obliged to pay tribute to the Persian King and place their military forces at

              his disposal. Persia\'s domination, however, was not maintained easily and there

              were several attempts tooverthrow the Persian yoke, the most significant being

              the Ionian revolt and an attempt by King Evagoras I of Salamis to unite all of

              Cyprus\' city-kingdoms under him. attempts failed.

              The Hellenistic Period

              Cyprus stayed in Persian hands until Alexander the Great defeated the Persian

              Empire when the island became part of his huge Empire. Upon Alexander\'s death

              Cyprus fell to one of his generals, Ptolemy I, the ruler of Egypt. From then on