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John Pettitt holding the “Ryder Cup” 1985

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Iron Age

THE IRON AGE (1050 - 750 BC)

This was a very important era starting about 1050 BC and coinciding with the beginning of the Geometric period (1050-750BC). The appearance of iron was a revolutionary invention as iron is harder and more durable than bronze. It is also during this period that the Phoenicians, famous antique tradesmen, arrived in Cyprus mainly for its copper ores and its timber. Kition and Amathous were seen to have the strongest Phoenician character. Their influence reached far inland into Nicosia.

The Geometric period got its name from the geometric shape of pottery and other works of art. During this time the Cypriot kingdoms were based upon the model of the Mycenaean kingdoms. Cyprus became mainly a Greek island with 10 city kingdoms. The early Iron Age saw the Hellenes divided into different branches - Aeolians, Dorians, Lydians and Ionians. The majority of their ever-increasing population spread out to Italy, Asia Minor, the Black Sea and eastwards into Cyprus. For the next three centuries the Phoenicians remained in peaceful competition with the Greeks, under the continuing guidance of the Egyptians. Then in 707 BC the Assyrians, under King Sargon ?, removed the Egyptians. The Cypriot kings, both Greek and Phoenician, were forced to acquiescence. Greek and Phoenicians were obliged to travel to Babylon with tributes of gold and silver. But although this marked the beginning of 100 years of Assyrian domination, the kingdoms of Cyprus were left to govern themselves - on the condition that they paid tribute and helped the Assyrians in their war against Egypt.

But towards the end of the 7th century BC the Egyptians regained their strength, culminating in the defeat of Greek-Cypriot and Phoenician ships in a sea-battle and reclaiming the island. Once more, Egypt was the absentee landlord, with Salamis, known as the most resplendent kingdom of the island, her tenant-in-chief. Salamis had kings Onesilos and later Evagoras. Onesilos managed to unite the Cypriots and fight against the Persians, though at the end he died at Amathous, becoming a symbol of heroism.

Despite this feudal situation it was the beginning of a time of great prosperity for the Cypriots, who were now well established as merchant seafarers. The period was particularly rich in pottery, strikingly oriental in style, discovered by tomb excavations (Ayia Irini). After their defeat at the hands of the Egyptians, the Cypriots chose their alliance more carefully. They recognized the growing power of the Persians, who in 546 BC had defeated the armies of Lydia, the Cypriots joined forces with them in a campaign against Egypt. This resulted in the final overthrow of the Egyptians and the ascendancy of the Persians in the Mediterranean, which was to continue until their defeat in the war with Greece.
 

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