Monday, June 28, 2010

History: Pirates Of Cyprus

The first and best ancient pirates were probably the elusive men and women known to the Egyptians as the "Sea Peoples". They came from the coastal areas of the Persian Gulf, or so it would seem, and - like the buccaneers of the 17th century - attacked both ships at sea and settlements by land. They were respected and feared and by the 7th century BCE they were roving over the Mediterranean and parts of the Atlantic in ships by the thousands. By that time they had become a distinct nation that we now know as the Phoenicians.

Because their own land was mostly desert, the Phoenicians were prone to colonization as well as raiding. They established outposts, many of which would become cities, in places as far afield as Chelah (the future Sale port in Morocco) on the Atlantic coast of Africa and as close to home at Tripoli in modern Libya. Now a new and surprisingly large Phoenician battle complex has been unearthed near Nicosha, Cyprus.

This Reuters article gives a quick glimpse of the archaeological excavation and the complex itself. The buildings are over 2,000 years old and were built by the Phoenicians on to the existing city of Idalion. The Phoenicians, according to the article, captured the city in the 5th century BCE and governed it for 150 years. Interestingly, Idalion was originally founded by Chalcanor, a descendant of King Priam of Trojan War fame. The Minoans, who may have been related to the Trojans, were one of the great rivals of the Phoenicians for seafaring dominance in the Mediterranean and beyond.

The fort was found to contain a large cash of metal weapons and bronze shields which have been collected for study. The sight, which has been under excavation since 1991, will eventually be open to the public. "Soon," according to the article. This will make it possible for modern people to walk the streets and stand in the courtyards once populated by some of the first pirates in the world. And that is certainly something worth considering for the ubiquitous bucket list.


Timmy! said...

Ahoy, Pauline! That is a good addition to the bucket list, Pirate Queen.

Pauline said...

Ahoy, Timmy! I thought so; from all I've heard, Cyprus is pretty at the very least.