Old Kingdom Of Alashiya And City Of Enkomi With Roots On The Island Of Cyprus

Ancient city of Enkomi flourished in the Late Bronze Age and was possibly the capital of Alashiya (Alasia), Late Bronze Age country and kingdom located in the eastern part of Mediterranean region, commonly identified with either Cyprus as a whole or the city of Enkomi by itself, located between the Levant and Anatolia.

The earliest references to Alashiya are in texts from the Hittite capital Hattusa, but also in texts written in Egyptian, Hittite, Akkadian, Mycenean (Linear B),Ugaritic. Also some of the Amarna Letters deal with copper trade affairs because Alashiya had rich copper resources.

The ancient city of Enkomi – an important trading center for copper, which was smelted at the site – certainly profited from trade with neighboring countries, which delivered silver, ivory and other luxury goods in return for copper.

Enkomi manufactured finished bronze objects for sale and was the source of unworked copper shaped like an oxide – the form, in which copper was transported – incomplete vessels, the waste left over from the casting process, smelting and leftovers from smith’s tools.

Excavations carried out at various sites have revealed a large scale metallurgical activity in Enkomi and several other sites in Cyprus increased during the Late Bronze Age (1650-1050 BC).

During this period, the correspondence between the pharaoh and the king of Alashiyia took place.

The letters – baked clay tablets inscribed in the cuneiform script in Akkadian – were discovered in the palace of Akhenaten at Tell el Amarna in Upper Egypt and date from the second quarter of the 14th century BC.

Ancient history records of Alashiya and the city of Enkomi are very rich. In the 14th century it was an ally of Egypt and an enemy of the Hittites.

During the 13th century BC, Enkomi was inhabited by Greeks, like most of the cities of Cyprus.

In about 1200 BC, Enkomi was – together with Greece, the Aegean, Anotolia and Syria – overrun by the so-called ‘Sea People’. (Enkomi was attacked two times by the Sea People who burned the city.)

After an earthquake ca. 1050 BC, the site was abandoned. Most of the ruins surviving to the present day belong to the city, which was rebuilt after the destruction of 1200 BC. This new city had straight streets which cut each other at right angles.

Among noteworthy finds from Enkomi are diverse inscriptions and the so-called “horned god”, a bronze statuette dated to the early 12th century BC, depicting a deity wearing a horned helmet.

The most impressive religious structure revealed during the excavations is the Sanctuary of the Horned God. The solid statue of the Horned God (a young man wearing a helmet with two horns) was found in one of the rooms and is 54.2 cm high. The sanctuary consists of a large rectangular hall with an altar and offering table.

Another well-known statue is the “ingot god”, a statue wearing a horned conical hat and greaves, armed with shield and spear, and standing on a miniature hide-shaped ingot.

Today Enkomi (once the important Bronze Age city) is a small village near Famagusta in Cyprus. The history of this ancient place dated back several millennia.

Written by – A. Sutherland AncientPages.com Staff Writer

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