John Pettitt holding the “Ryder Cup” 1985


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The position of Cyprus in the easternmost corner of the Mediterranean has dictated its history due its accessibility between both the East and the West, with their variant cultures. Its location, 70 km south of Turkey, 100 km west of Syria has made it a stepping stone with Constantinople as the bridge: from the east, it was the expanding civilizations of Egypt, Assyria and Persia and later the soldiers of Islam; from the west it was for the Alexandrian generals, the Romans and the Crusader knights en route to the Holy Land. Even in contemporary history too it has been used as a stepping-stone, such as for the empire-builders of Victorian Britain seeking to protect their sea-route to India. With all these comings and goings, it is inevitable, perhaps, that only the people who treated Cyprus as a destination (like those early Greek seafarers who came to stay) have had a lasting effect on the island. But one must ask what of the Cyprus that existed before the strangers came, before the map was drawn?


This represents the last period of the Stone Age and the oldest known settlements in Cyprus are found at Choirokiteia, Kalavasos - Tenta, Apostolos Andreas - Kastros, Phrenaros, Petra tou Limani. The characterizations of this period were polished stone implements. The origins of the first inhabitants of Cyprus, the Eteo-Cypriots, are unknown. The earliest settlement found at Choirokiteia date back from 5800 BC. The dwellings uncovered at this site are round, beehive shaped huts built of stones and mud from the riverbed. Skeleton remains of the inhabitants were found inside the huts, buried under the floor, together with stone vases and tools of bone and obsidian. The latter suggests that there might have been an early contact with Asia Minor, where this mineral is found. During a transitional period of 2-3000 years stone vessels were replaced with pottery and the round huts by rectangular dwellings such as those found in Sotira.


This period was the evolutionary stage between the Stone and the Bronze Age. Settlements have been found which point to where a fertility cult had been developed. The next development was the discovery of copper around 2500 BC. This new metal brought a growth of trade on the island over the next 200 years. Pottery became more structured and artistic such as the Red Polished and Red-and-Black Ware of Ambelikou.


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