|A Small and Shortened Introduction
Located on the South Western Coast of Cyprus between the cities Lemmesos (Limmasol eng.) and Pafos (Paphos eng.)
The entire landscape located here is ancient buildings, caves and other different archaeological sites. Most of them uncovered still. Excavations are still going on. The site of Kourion was first explored by L.P. di Cesnola in 1873. He investigated in a careless way several points at the main site and at the Sancuary of Apollo. On the city near the Theatre he maintained he had discovered the famous ‘Treasure of Kourion’, now in the Metropolian Museum of New York, USA. The finds comprising this treasure consist of jewellery of different types and dates and most probably they would have been found in tombs, than in the city site of Kourion.
Systematic excavations began in 1934 by the American Mission of the
Pennsylvania University Museum under the general direction of B.H. Hill
assisted by G. McFadden, J.F. Daniel, J.S. Last and others until 1954.
In 1955 the University of Missouri carried out trial excavations. Systematic
excavations continued at the same site in 1975 by the American Mission
of Kent State University under the direction of James Carpenter.
Various historical sources and the archaeological evidence attest that Kourion was one of the most important and glorious ancient kingdoms of Cyprus. It is referred to for the first time in an Egyptian inscription of the period of Ramses III (1198-1167 B.C.) as one of the places in Cyprus and Asia Minor which that famous Egyptian Pharaoh wished to be under his domination. The evidences from this period are the results from the Bamboula excavations, relating to the Mycenaean expansion during the late 13th century B.C., and the tomb excavated at the site of Kaloriziki near the small church of Ayios Ermoyenis, which among others finds produced the famous royal scepter of Kourion dating to the 11th century B.C.
In the year 709 B.C. the king of Kourion together with six other kings of Cyprus went to pay homage to the Assyrian king Sargon II, who recorded their surrender on a stele erected at Kition and which is now in Berlin, Germany. Soon after the year 546 B.C. Kourion and all the other ancient kingdoms of Cyprus accepted Egyptian domination which lasted till the middle of the 6th century B.C. In the year 546 B.C. they submitted to Cyprus, the Great King of the Persian Empire. During the 5th century B.C. the city of Kourion began to expand to the locality of Palaeokastro, a hillock west of Episkopi overlooking the sea.
Christianity started to be established at Kourion by the beginning of the 3rd century A.D., but persecutions against the first Christians cost the inhabitants of the city many painful tortures. One of the earliest bishops, Philoneides, suffered martyrdom during the time of the Emperor Diocletian (A.D. 284-305). Zeno, a later bishop, who represented the Church of Cyprus at the Council of Ephesus (A.D. 431), successfully supported its independence.
Kourion, like other coastal cities of the island, was ruined by the severe earthquake of the late 4th century A.D. but was rebuilt at the beginning of the 5th century. It was entirely destroyed by fire during the Arab raids of the mid-7th century. By this time the city of Kourion started to be abandoned and its inhabitants moved and established themselves at a new site, 2,5 km to the east, at the modern village of Episkopi. The name of Episkopi village is derived from the name of the bishopric of Kourion (episkopi in Greek, which was also transferred there. One of the bishops, Dionysius, died in A.D. 649 after the first Arab raid; of his successors only one, Michael, is referred to in A.D.1051. The bishopric was finally suppressed by the Latins in 1222.
During the Middle Age the village of Episkopi was known as La Piscopie.
In the 13th century it belonged to Jean Díbelin, Count of Jaffa;
in the 14th and 15th centuries it formed part of the domains of the Coronaro
family and from its owner acquired the name of La Piscopi de Cornier.
THE HOUSE OF EUSTOLIOS
(this is where one can find the mosaic floor with the Birds of Paradise, in their midst’s a GUINEA HEN !!!)
Next to the Theatre and slightly above it, at the southeast edge of a commanding plateau, are the remains of the House of Eustolios. Built on the ruins of an earlier palatial private residence, which was completely destroyed by the earthquakes of the late 4th century A.S., the present form of this impressive House dates from the end of the 4th to the middle of the 7th century A.D.
The entire building complex was constructed of well-hewn limestone blocks and consisted of more than thirty rooms and a bathing establishment. The main entrance was on the west and opened onto a rectangular forecourt. The series of rooms on the left side of the forecourt were probably the storage and service quarters. The other series of rooms on the right side of the forecourt replaced a long apsidal hall of the earlier Roman construction. Two of these rooms adjacent to each other and reached by a long corridor were the latrines of the House.
The forecourt led to the vestibule on the mosaic floor of which inscription
in black tesserae, framed by a multicolored wreath, welcomed the visitor
with the phrase:
‘’Enter for the good luck of the house’’
The vestibule opened onto the west end of the north portico of a central square peristyle courtyard enclosing a garden with a square fountain and a rectangular fishpond. The floors of the three long porticoes extending around the east, south and west sides of the garden court are paved with exceptional mosaics compositions. The mosaic floor on the north portico has entirely disappeared.
The west portico, the northern part of which is provided with a flight of rock-cut steps, preserved a badly damaged mosaic floor divided in four panels and decorated with cross-shaped ornaments, rosettes, guilloches and other geometric motifs.
The mosaic floor of the south portico has also been extensively damaged,
but most of its decorative elements are very distinct. They include lozenges,
guilloches, overlapping and intersecting circles, swastikas, squares, rectilinear
and curvilinear motifs and various other multicolored geometric designs.
(NOW, READ THIS!!!)
The special variety of the intricate geometric designs in combination with the symbolic inscriptions, (also in mosaic), worked into them indicate the architectural magnificence and depict clearly the Christian identity of the House. A rectangular panel of white tesserae encloses an inscription of brown tesserae written in the form of a three-lined poem and resembling the Homeric dactylic hexameter and vocabulary:
ANTI AITHON MEGALON ANTI STEREOIO SIDIROU
‘’This house of big stones and solid iron,
The chief importance of this mosaic inscription lies in its deeper symbolic meaning which emphasizes the predominance of Christianity and its triumph over paganism.
Apart from these Christian symbols some of the main virtues of Christianity are also emphasized by another mosaic inscription on the floor before the entrance to the rooms of the south wing of the House. It is an elegiac couplet of brown tesserae and reads:
EKSEDRIN THALAMON TE THIODEA TOUTON ADELFAI AIDOS
‘’The sisters Reverence, Prudence and Piety tend the
NB!!!!! Except for all typo’s and some remarks, which can be blamed on me, the text here is all taken from the above mentioned Guide:
It’s monuments and local Museums
Written by Dr. Demos Christou