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The Stone Age


 

Neolithic Period I
(8th millennium - 4500 BC)
Cyprus, though a small island, has always played an important role in the history of the Mediterranean, far exceeding its size. The first signs of undisputed human activity can be traced back to the 8th millennium BC when the first settlements are encountered. Vestiges of such early communities are found all over the island, such as at Khirokitia, Kalavasos-Tenta, Apostolos Andreas-Kastros, Phrenaros, Petra tou Limniti etc. 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 daily life of the people in those neolithic villages was spent in farming, hunting, animal husbandry and the lithic industry, while women were engaged in spindling and weaving cloths, in addition to their probable participation in other activities. The lithic industry was the most individual feature of this aceramic culture and innumerable stone vessels made of grey andesite have been discovered during excavations. Plant remains indicate the cultivation of cereals, lentils, beans, peas and a kind of plum called Bullace. Remains of the following animal species were recovered during excavations: Persian fallow deer, goat, sheep, moufflon and pig. More remains indicate Red deer, Roe deer, a kind of horse and a kind of dog but no cattle as yet. Life expectancy was very short; the average age at death was about 34 years, and there was a very high infant mortality rate.

Neolithic Period II
(4500-3500 BC)
The aceramic civilisation of Cyprus came to an end quite abruptly around 6000 BC. It was probably followed by a vacuum of almost 1.500 years until around 4500 BC when we have the emergence of Neolithic II. At this time newcomers arrived in Cyprus introducing a new neolithic era. The main settlement that embodies most of the characteristics of the period is Sotira near the south coast of Cyprus. It had nearly fifty houses, usually having a single room that had its own hearth, benches, platforms and partitions that provided working places. The houses were on the main free-standing, with relatively thin walls and tended to be square with rounded corners.
 
Chalcolithic Period
(3500-2500/2300 BC)
The Neolithic II culture was destroyed by an earthquake c.3800 BC. In the society that emerged there are no overt signs of newcomers but signs of continuity, therefore despite the violent natural catastrophe, there is an internal evolution that isformalised around 3500 BC when we have the beginning of the so-called Chalcolithic (copper and stone) period that lasted until about 2500/2300 BC. Metalwork appears now for the first time and will stamp the future of the island for centuries to come. We have very few chisels, hooks and jewellery of pure copper but in one example there is a minimal presence of tin, something which may support contact with Asia Minor, where copper-working was established earlier. During the Chalcolithic period changes of major importance tookplace along with technological and artistic achievements, especially towards its end. The presence of a stamp seal and the size of the houses that was not uniform, both hint at property rights and social hierarchy. The same story is supported by the burials because some of them were deposited in pits without grave goods and some in shaft graves with relatively rich furniture, both being indications of wealth accumulation by certain families and social differentiation. The Chalcolithic period did not come to an end at the same time all over Cyprus. In the Paphos area it lingered on although in northern Cyprus the Bronze Age came into being.
 


 

The Bronze Age


 

Early Bronze Age (2500/2300 - 1900 BC) The new era was introduced by people from Anatolia who came to Cyprus because of disturbances in Asia Minor. It is only natural that we observe the first vivid vestiges of this civilisation around 2300 BC in the northern part of the island, from where it spread south and west. As the newcomers knew how to work with copper they soon moved to the so-called copperbelt of the island, that is the foothills of the Troodos mountains. This movement reflects the increased interest in the raw material that was going to be so closely connected with Cyprus for several centuries afterwards.
 
The Middle Bronze Age
(1900 - 1600 BC)
The Middle Bronze Age which followed (1900-1600 BC) is a relatively short period and its earlier part is marked by peaceful development in contrast to its final years which were marked by wars. Unlike the early Bronze Age which furnishes no settlements as yet, the Middle Bronze Age shows several settlements in addition to cemeteries that give us an idea about the architecture of the period. From Alambra in central Cyprus we know that the houses were rectangular with many rooms, while streets were constructed allowing people to move freely in the community. During the same period fortresses were built in various places, a clear indication of unrest, although we are not sure about its cause.
 
The Late Bronze Age
(1600-1100 BC)
The beginning of the Late Bronze Age does not differ from the closing years of the previous period. Unrest, tension and anxiety mark all these years, probably because of some sort of engagement with the Hyksos who ruled Egypt at this time but were expelled from there in the mid-16th century. Soon afterwards peaceful conditions prevailed in the Eastern Mediterranean that witnessed a flowering of trade relations and the growing of urban centres. Chief among them was Enkomi the earliest predecessor of modern Famagusta, though several other harbour towns also sprung up along the southern coast of Cyprus. Rich finds from this period testify to a vivid commerce with other countries. We have jewellery and other precious objects from the Aegean along with pottery that prove the close connections of the two areas, though finds coming from Near Eastern countries are also plentiful. The years of peace that brought about such a flowering of culture and civilisation did not last. During these years Cyprus reached unprecedented heights in prosperity and it played a rather neutral role in the differences of her powerful neighbours. In the second half of the 13th century Cyprus suffered because of raids that were intensified and turned into devastating invasions in the last quarter of the same century. When those disastrous events came to an end, we observe the massive arrival of the Mycenaean Greeks as permanent settlers to Cyprus, a process that started around 1200 BC and lasted for more than a century. This migration is remembered in many sagas rehearsing how some of the Greek heroes that participated in the Trojan war came to settle in Cyprus. The newcomers brought with them their language, their advanced technology and introduced a new outlook for visual arts. Thus from c. 1220 BC Cyprus has remained predominantly Greek in culture, language and population despite various influences resulting from successive conquests.


 

The Iron Age


 

Early Iron Age
(1100 - 750 BC)
In the ensuing Early Iron Age (1100-750 BC) Cyprus becomes predominantly Greek. Pottery shapes and decoration show a marked Aegean inspiration although Oriental ideas creep in from time to time. New burial customs with rock-cut chamber tombs having a long "dromos" (a ramp leading gradually towards the entrance) along with new religious beliefs speak in favour of the arrival of people from the Aegean. The same view is supported by the introduction of the safety pin that denotes a new fashion in dressing and also by a name scratched on a bronze skewer from Paphos and dating between 1050-950 BC. This name (o-pe-le-ta-u) is in the Greek language but it is written in the Cypriot syllabary that remained in use down to the 3rd century BC. The alphabetic writing that was adopted from the Phoenicians in the 8th century BC in Greece proper was introduced to Cyprus as late as the early 4th century BC. In the period under discussion, and in particular in the 9th century BC we witness the arrival of the Phoenicians in Cyprus, who probably came here from their land (modern Lebanon) because they were harassed by the Assyrians. The Phoenicians brought with them their deities and made their presence felt in minor arts, pottery-shapes and ornamentation.
 
The Archaic Period
(750-475 BC)
The 8th century BC saw a marked increase of wealth in Cyprus. Communications with East and West were on the ascend and this created a prosperous society. Testifying to this wealth are the so-called royal tombs of Salamis, which, although plundered, produced a truly royal abundance of wealth. Sacrifices of horses, bronze tripods and huge cauldrons decorated with sirens, griffins etc., chariots with all their ornamentation and the horses' gear, ivory beds and thrones exquisitely decorated were all deposited into the tombs' "dromoi" for the sake of their masters. The late 8th century is the time of the spreading of the Homeric poems, the "Iliad" and the "Odyssey". IN fact the spread of the Greek civilization had a great effect on Cyprus.very much. Funerary customs at Salamis and elsewhere were greatly influenced by these poems. The deceased were given skewers and firelogs in order to roast their meat, a practice found in contemporary Argos and Crete, recalling the similar gear of Achilles when he entertained other Greek heroes in his tent. Honey and oil, described by Homer as offerings to the dead are also found at Salamis, and the flames of fire that consumed the deceased were quenched with wine as it happened to Patroclus' body after it was given to the flames. The hero's ashes were gathered carefully wrapped into a linen cloth and put into a golden urn. At Salamis the ashes of the deceased are also wrapped into a cloth and deposited into a bronze cauldron. Therefore, the Cypriots along with their extravagant display of wealth that bears many oriental features, do not forget their roots for which they must have been very proud. The circulation of the Homeric poems must have revived the interest in their ancestors whose system of government they never lost sight of. As Mycenaean Greece was divided in small independent kingdoms, so Cyprus kept the tradition alive down to historical times being divided into ten petty kingdoms that were ruled by a king. Kinship was preserved even under foreign occupations, when the cities of Cyprus remained independent even after their submission to the Assyrians in 709, the Egyptians in 569 and the Persians in 545 BC. The period of Egyptian domination, though brief, left its mark mainly in arts especially in sculpture, where we observe the rigidity and the dress of Egyptians. Soon, however, the Cypriots discarded both for the sake of Greek prototypes. Under the Persians, the kings of Cyprus retained their independence, although paying tribute to their overlord. They could mint their own coins without even his portrait on it. Thus King Evelthon of Salamis (560-525 BC), probably the first one to cast silver or bronze coins in Cyprus, shows a ram on the obverse and an "ankh" (Egyptian symbol of good luck) on the reverse. In the Persian empire, Cyprus formed part of the fifth satrapy and in addition to tribute it had to supply the Persians with ships and crews . In their new fate the Greeks of Cyprus had as companions the Greeks of Ionia (west coast of Asia Minor - now Turkey) with whom they forged closer ties. When the Ionian Greeks revolted against Persia (499 BC) the Cypriots except for Amathus, joined in at the instigation of Onesilos, brother of the king of Salamis, whom he dethroned for not wanting to fight for independence. The Persians reacted quickly sending a considerable force against Onesilos. They won despite Ionian help.
 
The Classical Period
(475-325 BC)
After the Persian defeat, the Greeks mounted various expeditions against Cyprus in order to liberate it from the Persian yoke, but all their efforts bore only temporary results. Following these events Persian rule became more oppressive and it favoured the Phoenician element at the expense of the Greek. A Phoenician "usurper" ascended the throne of Salamis and it took several decades before Evagoras, a true scion of the Teucrid family, succeeded in seizing the throne in 411 BC. Evagoras dominated Cypriot politics for almost forty years until he died in 374/3 BC. He favoured everything Greek and he urged Greeks from the Aegean to come and settle in Cyprus. He assisted the Athenians in many ways and they honoured him by erecting his statue in the Stoa (portico) Basileios in Athens. His successors continued his struggle against the Persians but to no avail until Alexander the Great defeated the Persians at the battle of Issos near modern Alexandretta (Iskenderun) in 333 BC. From then on the Cypriot kings were only too happy to transfer their allegiance to him. In the sphere of arts we have a definite influence from Greece that was responsible for the production of some very important sculptures. The archaic Greek art with its attractive smile on the face of the statue is found on many Cypriot pieces dating between 525-475 BC, that is the closing stage of the Archaic period. According to Greek tradition men (Kouroi) are mostly presented naked, while women (Korai) are always presented dressed with rich foldings of their himations. The Classical period coincides with the oppression of the Cypriot cities by the Persians because of the revolt they staged a little earlier in 499 BC. Because of this, few works of Greek workmanship have reached Cyprus but their influence was extensively felt.
 
The Hellenistic Period
(325-30 BC)
When Alexander the Great was marching southwards and then towards the heart of the Persian empire and finally India, the Cypriot Kings assisted him in many ways especially with their ships in the siege of Tyre. In appreciation, Alexander set them free. This period, however was very brief since the Macedonian King died soon afterwards and Cyprus became a bone of contention among his successors. Finally Cyprus was won over in 294 BC by Ptolemy who ruled Egypt where he established a dynasty that lasted for three centuries. Ptolemaic rule was rigid and exploited the island's resources to the utmost, particularly timber and copper. A great contemporary figure of Cypriot letters was the philosopher Zeno who was born at Kition about 336 and founded the famous Stoic School of Philosophy at Athens where he died about 263 BC.
 
The Roman Period
(30 BC - 330 AD)
In 58 BC the tribune Claudius Pulcher carried a law implemented by Cato, which turned Cyprus into a Roman province attached to that of Cilicia. During the civil wars, Cyprus was briefly given to Cleopatra of Egypt by Julius Caesar and later by Mark Anthony. It was reverted to Roman rule in 30 BC and in 22 BC became a Senatorial Province. Pax Romana (Roman peace) was only once disturbed in Cyprus in three centuries of Roman occupation. This serious interruption occurred in 115/6 AD when a revolt by the Jews inspired by Messianic hopes broke out. Their leader was Artemion, a Jew with a hellenised name as was the practice of the time. Historians put the number of those massacred to 240,000. No doubt the number is exaggerated but one must not forget that in Cyprus practically no Roman troops were stationed and this facilitated the Jewish revolt. Soon, however, the then Roman Emperor Trajan, dispatched to Cyprus one of his generals who suppressed the insurrection and expelled all Jews from the island, not allowing them to tread her soil even when shipwrecked. No doubt the most important event that occurred in Roman Cyprus is the visit by Apostles Paul and Barnabas having with them St Mark who came to the island at the outset of their first missionary journey in 45 AD. After their arrival at Salamis they proceeded to Paphos where they converted the Roman Governor Sergius Paulus to Christianity. In the Acts of the Apostles, St Luke describes vividly how a magician named Bar-Jesus (Elymas) was obstructing the two Apostles in their preaching of the Gospel, so Paul by his word only set him blind for some time. As a result of this, Sergius Paulus believed, being astonished atthe doctrine of the Lord. In this way Cyprus became the firstcountry in the world to be governed by a Christian ruler.
 
The Byzantine Period
(330-1191 AD)
The cities of Cyprus were destroyed by two successive earthquakes in 332 and 342 AD and this marked the end of an era and at the same time the beginning of a new one, very much connected with modern life in Cyprus. Most of the cities were not rebuilt, save Salamis which was rebuilt on a smaller scale and renamed Constantia after the Roman Emperor Constantius II, son of Constantine the Great, residing in Constantinople. The new city was now the capital of the island. It was mainlyChristian and due to this some alterations were made during the rebuilding. The palaestra was turned into a meeting place and many architectural elements were used to erect spacious churches decorated with murals, mosaics and coloured marbles. In 395 AD the Roman Empire was divided in two, eastern and western. Naturally Cyprus became part of the eastern part of the Empire called Byzantium and it remained so for almost nine centuries. The main event in Cyprus in comparison to older times was the spreading of the Christian faith that created a new attitude towards life since its morality was different to that of paganism. The political history of the island is one of tranquillity until 649 AD when we have the first Arab invasion. Until then people were engaged very much in matters of faith, especially fighting the effort of the Patriarch of Antioch to put the Church of Cyprus under his control. They were finally successful in 488 AD when Archbishop Anthemius guided by a dream discovered the tomb of St Barnabas with the Saint's body lying in a coffin and on his chest a copy of the Gospel by St Matthew in Barnabas' own writing. Having the relics with him, Anthemius dashed to Constantinople and presented them to Emperor Zeno. The latter was very much impressed and he not only confirmed the independence of the Church of Cyprus but he also gave to the Archbishop in perpetuity three privileges that are as much alive today as they were then, namely to carry a sceptre instead of a pastoral staff, to sign with red ink and to wear a purple cloak during services.
 
Arab Raids
(649-965 AD)
In 649 AD Arabs sailed with a big armada under the leadership of Muawiya against Cyprus. They conquered and sacked the capital Salamis - Constantia after a brief siege and pillaged the rest of the island. In the course of this expedition a relative of the Prophet, Umm-Haram fell from her mule near the Salt Lake at Larnaca and was killed. She was buried in that spot and much later in 1816 the Hala Sultan Tekke was built there by the Turks. In 654 AD the second Arab invasion took place that devastated the island again. This time, however, a garrison of 12,000 men was left in Cyprus, an indication of their intentions to incorporate it into the Moslem world. In 677 AD the Arabs aimed straight at the heart of the Byzantine empire, Constantinople itself. They attacked with a huge fleet but they suffered such a defeat that they had to sign a treaty and pay an indemnity to the Emperor. In 683 AD the Moslem garrison was withdrawn and in 688 AD the island of Cyprus was declared neutral, with no garrisons stationed in it, the collected taxes being divided among the Arabs and the Emperor. The island was finally liberated by Byzantine Emperor Nicephorus Phokas in 965 AD.
 
Richard the Lionheart
(1191 AD)
In 1191 AD King Richard of England was on his way to the Holy Land participating in the Third Crusade. Some of his ships were wrecked off the coast of Cyprus and the ship carrying his sister Joanna, Queen of Sicily, and his betrothed Berengaria of Navarre, anchored off Limassol. When King Richard arrived, he regarded the Cypriots' behaviour as insulting towards the women and captured the island, starting a new phase, and not a happy one in Cyprus' history.
 
The Frankish Period
(1191-1571)
King Richard of England was reluctant to keep Cyprus under his control as his main aim was Palestine. For this reason he sold it to the Knights Templar. The Templars ruthlessly exploited Cyprus so the inhabitants rose against them in the Easter of 1192 AD. Realising that it was difficult to keep it under their control they sold it in turn to the King of Jerusalem (Jerusalem was now in the hands of the Arabs), Guy de Lusignan, who took possession of the island in May 1192 AD. From the very beginning Guy saw the Cypriots as serfs so he invited the French nobility to come from Syria and Palestine and settle in Cyprus awarding them estates and ranks in his newly founded Kingdom. He reigned for almost two years. His brother Amaury who succeeded him reigned for eleven years (1194-1205 AD) and he is the real founder of the Lusignan Kingdom of Cyprus. He established the offices of the State which was organised on pure feudal principles. The indigenous population consisting of Greek Cypriots was divided mainly in three classes: The "Paroikoi" were the most numerous. They were bound to the land of their masters and they were almost slaves. Even marriage among "'Paroikoi" from different estates was prohibited. The second group was called "Perperiarii" (hyperperon was a Byzantine coin). All of them belonged to the previous group but they bought off (redeemed) their freedom by paying 15 "hyperpera" to their masters. They continued, however, to pay taxes for their land and produce as the "Paroikoi". The "Lefteroi" were free citizens who either purchased their freedom or were set free by some kind of favour. The entire Greek population was reduced to a subject race by the French rulers. The hostility between the two was exacerbated bythe introduction of Catholicism which people reacted to. This climate changed only after mid 14th century and the Greek population was allowed relative freedom in religious matters. This allowed the Greeks to ascend the social ladder and even become officers in the army. The French dynasty co-operated with the Orthodox Church and mixed marriages were on the increase despite the obstacles put forth by the Catholic Church. The last Frankish King James reigned from 1464-1473 AD and he chose as his consort a young Venetian girl of the noblest families, Caterina Cornaro, a marriage that was destined to seal the chapter of the Frankish Kingdom of Cyprus. Before her departure from Venice, Caterina was adopted by the Venetian State so, when James II died unexpectedly a few months after his wedding, as did his offspring James III a few weeks after it was born, Caterina was persuaded in February 1489 AD to abdicate voluntarily. Venice offered her an estate at Asolo where she spent her days until her death in 1510 AD. The noble local Frankish families resented the way they were treated by the Venetians and the Greeks gained nothing from this change, in fact they were squeezed by heavy taxes. The Orthodox Church, however, gained full freedom for political purposes. Rebellions did occur but were easily crushed. Meanwhile, as all the countries around Cyprus fell to the Ottomans, Cyprus could have been their prey at any moment. The Turks sent an ultimatum with insulting terms in March 1570 AD to the Council of Ten in Venice, demanding the immediate cession of the island. Venice tried in vain to send reinforcements so any resistance was doomed to failure. The Turks under Lala Mustafa landed near Larnaca, proceeded unharassed and laid siege to Nicosia on 25 July 1570 AD. Having relatively easily conquered that in about one and a half months, they proceeded to Kyrenia which surrendered without a shot. The same happened in Paphos and Limassol, so Lala Mustafa moved his entire army outside Famagusta on 23 September. The defence of Famagusta is one of the greatest epics of siege warfare recorded in history. Against Mustafa's 200,000 men, with 145 guns, the Venetians had some 3-4,000 regular Italian infantry, 2-300 cavalry and about 4,000 Greek militia, with 90 guns. The siege lasted from 16 September 1570 to 1 August 1571 when the Captain of Famagusta, Marcantonio Bragadin, of a distinguished Venetian family, offered his surrender. It was accepted by Mustafa in flattering terms. When Bragadin and his surviving officers came out, after receiving the acknowledgement of surrender sealed with the Sultan's seal, Mustafa gave the signal for the massacre to begin. He himself cut off Bragadin's ears and nose, then kept him waiting in this state for two weeks before having him flayed alive. His skin was stuffed with straw and taken to Constantinople in triumph. A patriotic Venetian later stole it and it now rests in an urn in the church of SS Giovanni e Paolo in Venice. Cyprus was annexed as a province of the Ottoman Empire and Lala Mustafa Pasha became the first Governor.
 
The Ottoman Period
(1571-1878)

 
The Ottoman occupation brought about two radical results in the history of the island. For the first time since the late 13th, 12th and 11th centuries BC a new ethnic element (save the Phoenicians in the 9th century BC) appeared, the Turks. The second important result of the Ottoman occupation benefited the Greek peasants who no longer remained serfs of the land they were cultivating. Now they could acquire it against payment, thus becoming owners of it. At the same time the Orthodox Church was liberated because the Turks were afraid of the presence of the Catholic Church as it might instigate an attack of Western Europe against them. Gradually the Archbishop of Cyprus became not only religious but ethnic leader as well, something the Turks promoted wanting to have somebody responsible for the loyalty of the Greek flock. In this way the Church undertook the task of the guardian of the Greek cultural legacy which is partly carried on even in our days, although diminished after independence. The Ottoman occupation, apart from adding one more possession to the Ottoman Empire, detached Cyprus from the direct influence, cultural and economic, of the West and brought it directly under the influence of Ottoman despotism. The heavy taxes and the abuses against the population on the part of the Ottoman conquerors in the early years after the Ottoman occupation gave rise to opposition, following which the Sultan, by order addressed to the Governor, the "Kadi" and the Treasurer, prohibited the oppression of his subjects and commanded the officers to govern with justice. While the Sultan's orders indicated his goodwill towards the local population, the Ottoman local administration proved indifferent, arbitrary and often corrupt, taking no measures whatsoever for the benefit of the people and the situation was aggravated by the heavy burden of taxes. Those collecting the taxes were trying by all means to extract as much money as they could by exploiting the local population. Following the Ottoman conquest, many Greek Cypriots and Latins, in order to escape heavy taxation converted to Islam. Many Greek Cypriots who had been converted to Islam remained actually Christians in secret. They were normally called "linobambaki". According to a view expressed for the first time in 1863 AD, and then adopted in the following years, this word was taken metaphorically from a cloth woven with linen and cotton and which had two different sides corresponding thus to the two aspects of their faith. The "linobambaki" turned up during daytime as Moslems, and in the evenings they appeared as Christians, keeping to the Christian religion, its customs and its habits. The inhabitants of Cyprus, disappointed at the mismanagement of home affairs by the Ottoman governors, soon turned to Europe in search for help for liberation. Very characteristic is the appeal by Archbishop Timotheos to the King of Spain Philip II for liberation of the island, in which, among other things, the following is stated: "There have recently been repeated cases of abuse on the part of the organs of the conqueror; in a greedy manner they attempt to confiscate and seize the property of the inhabitants; Christian houses are broken into and domiciles violated, and all sorts of dishonest acts against wives and daughters are committed. Twice until now churches and monasteries have been plundered, multiple and heavy taxes have been imposed whose collection is pursued by systematic persecutions, threats and tortures, which lead many persons to the ranks of Islam, while at the same time the male children of Cypriot families are seized (in order to form the brigades of "Jannissaries"). This most hard practice is the worst of the sufferings to which the people of Cyprus is subjected by the Ottoman administration". Between 1572 and 1668 AD about 28 bloody uprisings took place on the island and in many of these both Greeks and Turks (poor Turks were also exploited by the ruling class) took part. But all of them ended in failure. About 1660 AD, in order to eliminate the greed of the Ottoman administration and stop the oppression and injustice against the people (who they called "rayahs", sheep for milking), the Sultan recognised the Archbishop and the Bishops as "the protectors of people" and the representatives of the Sultan. In 1670 AD, Cyprus ceased to be a "pasaliki" for the Ottoman Empire and came under the jurisdiction of the Admiral of the Ottoman fleet. In his turn, the Admiral sent an officer to govern in his place. In 1703 AD Cyprus comes under the jurisdiction of the Grand Vizier who sent to the island a military and civil administrator. The title and function of this officer were awarded to the person who paid the highest amount of money in exchange. As a result, heavier taxation was imposed and the Cypriots became the subject of harder exploitation. About 1760 AD the situation in Cyprus was intolerable. A terrible epidemic of plague, bad crops and earthquakes, drove many Cypriots to emigrate. In addition what was worse for the Greeks and Turks of the island, the newly- appointed Pasha, doubled the taxes in 1764 AD. In the end Chil Osman and 18 of his friends were killed by Greek and Ottoman Cypriots alike but the two ethnic elements had to pay a huge sum of money to the Sultan and the families of the victims. It was assessed that each Christian had to pay 14 piastres and each Turk 7. The latter did not accept this judgement and broke into an open rebellion having Khalil Agha, the commander of the guard of the castle of Kyrenia as their leader. Finally the uprising was crushed and Khalil Agha was beheaded. The Greek War of Liberation of 1821 had its repercussions on the situation in Cyprus. With the Sultan's consent, the Ottoman administration in the island under governor Kuchuk Mehmed, executed 486 Christians on 9 July 1821, accusing them of conspiring with the rebellious Greeks. They included four Bishops, many clergymen and prominent citizens, who were beheaded in the central square of Nicosia, while Archbishop Kyprianos was hanged. The property of the Church was plundered and the Christians were forced to pull down the upper storeys of their houses, an order that remained in force until the British put the island under their control almost sixty years later. Between the years 1849 and 1878 Cyprus witnessed some slow change for the better in the administration section. District councils were set up and consisted of Greek and many Ottoman members. Many reforms, however, which were supposed to have been introduced were frustrated by unwilling administrators. The Ottoman occupation came to an end in 1878. In all it lasted for 307 years. During their long presence on the island, the architectural remains left by the Turks included the small fort of Paphos dating to the late 16th century and largely based on a Lusignan plan, the tomb that was built where Umm Haram, a relative of the Prophet, died in the mid-7th century, which dates to the late 18th century and over which a tekke and a mosque were built 1816 adding Oriental charm to the place, the aqueduct constructed by Pasha Abu Bekr in 1747 in order to bring fresh water to Larnaca. In Nicosia, the capital, there is a 16th century inn called a Khan, a 17th century Tekke of the Mevleri or the Dancing Dervishes and the Arab Ahmet Pasha mosque of the 18th century. When the Turks were defeated by the Russians in 1877 and the Berlin Congress took place the next year in order to revise the treaty of St Stefano which was signed by Russia and the Ottoman Empire according to terms dictated by the former, it was officially announced on 9 July 1878 that on the 4th of preceding June, the British and the Sultan had secretly countersigned the Convention of Istanbul by virtue of which the possession and administration of Cyprus was vested in Great Britain. The reasons for the detachment of Cyprus from the hands of Turkey can be found in the words of the British Minister for Foreign Affairs, Lord Salisbury, who stressed the following: "The Government has already proceeded to preparations for the construction of a new dam behind the ruined Ottoman waterdam". So after considering many other places (such as Crete, Lesbos, Lemnos, Alexandretta, Accra, Haifa and Alexandria), Great Britain decided to obtain possession of Cyprus, which Beaconsfield (Benjamin Disraeli) described to Queen Victoria in 1878 as "the Key to West Asia".
 
The British Period
(1878-1959)
During the Congress of Berlin, which took place on 4 June 1878, Britain and Turkey signed the Cyprus Convention whereby Cyprus was handed over to the British in exchange for the latter's aid to Turkey in defending the Ottoman Empire against any Russian attack. While the Greek Cypriots had at first welcomed British rule hoping that they would gradually achieve prosperity, democracy and national liberation, they were soon disillusioned. The British imposed heavy taxes to cover the compensation which they were paying to the Sultan for having conceded Cyprus to them. Moreover,the people were not given the right to participate in the administration of the island since all powers were reserved to the High Commissioner and to London. A few years later the system was reformed and some members of the legislative Council were elected by the Cypriots, but in reality their participation was very marginal. With the beginning of the First World War the Ottoman Empire sided with Germany and Great Britain annexed Cyprus on 5 November 1914. After the war a number of modernising trends prevailed in Cyprus such as economic development and increased educational facilities. The British annexation of Cyprus became more concrete with the Treaty of Lausanne (24 July 1923) whereby Turkey formally accepted the 1914 annexation and advised the Turkish Cypriots to leave the island. As a result of this treaty, Britain proclaimed Cyprus a Crown Colony in 1925 under an undemocratic constitution. In the years that followed Greek Cypriots mainly tried to increase their constitutional liberties. Their main objective was to achieve ENOSIS, union with Greece, despite the fact that both the British and the Turkish Cypriot leaders were against it. In 1929 the 'National Radical Union of Cyprus' was established. It aimed at the liberation of Cyprus from the British and ENOSIS with Greece. In 1931 this group issued a proclamation of protest against the British which was followed by an uprising of the Greek community. The uprising, which was suppressed with the help of Egyptian troops, exasperated the British and they were no longer willing to negotiate for the independence and self-determination of Cyprus. The period between October 1931 and October 1940 proved to be a very difficult one for the Greek Cypriots. The Governor of the time Sir Richmond Palmer took a number of suppressive measures including limitations in the administration and functioning of Greek schools and prohibition of trade unions and associations of any kind and form. This illegal regime became known as Palmerokratia named after of the Governor. Its aim was to prevent all Enosis movements as well as local public interest in politics. There were strong protests against the regime but the suppressive measures were not lifted until the beginning of the Second World War, during which more than thirty thousand Cypriots joined the British armed forces. After the war, a delegation from Cyprus submitted a demand for ENOSIS to London. The demand was rejected but the British proposed a more liberal constitution and a 10-year programme of social and economic development. On 1 April 1955 EOKA (the Organization of Cypriot Fighters) began an armed struggle and when its activity was intensified the British Governor took severe repressive measures. From mid-1956 onwards there were constant discussions in NATO but all efforts to create an independent Cyprus which would be a member of the British Commonwealth proved to be futile. In 1958 the British Prime Minister Harold MacMillan prepared new proposals for Cyprus but his plan, which was a form of partition, was rejected by Archbishop Makarios. The Archbishop declared that he would only accept a proposal which guaranteed independence excluding both Enosis and partition. This sort of proposal was then discussed in NATO. A final agreement was reached in Zurich on 11 February 1959, and ratified during the London Conference the same month. Although the agreements were not very positive for Cyprus, Makarios had to accept them for fear that, if the British withdrew from Cyprus and abandoned the Greek population, Turkish troops might have invaded the island. Among other things the London-Zurich agreements provided for the independence, territorial integrity, security and constitutional structure of the Republic of Cyprus.

 





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KORONA
KORONA TOURS & TRAVEL SERVICES LTD
20 OCEANIAS STR. OROKLINI
P.O. BOX 40976
6308 LARNACA - CYPRUS
TEL.: +357 24 647650
FAX: + 357 24 647660
E-MAIL: korona@korona.com.cy
http://www.korona.com.cy/default.php
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