Potted History of Cyprus – part 1

100px-Cyprus_lrgA Brief Potted History of Cyprus the Last 250 Million Years (At Least)

Once upon a time, a very long time ago, there was an island in the middle (well nearly) of the sea. It was a nice island some trees and goats and water, lovely beaches and things. It was a bit of a problem island from the very beginning of its existence to be honest. You may ask why? Well I’ll try and explain. It’s not easy putting archeological, and geophysical terms into layman’s language, but I’ll try my very best. But I’m jumping the gun; we need to go back into geological time.

OK so there we were, many many years ago, back in the distant past before people kept dinosaurs outside their caves for pets and Mr Neanderthal was a Wigan supporter. This island “popped” up out of the water because Africa was moving towards Turkey. They weren’t called that then of course, because they didn’t have Google Earth to tell them what they were called, so the scientists called them bits of Oceania. (Bit silly really ‘cos if they were bits of it, then there would be the rest of it still in Google Earth to see wouldn’t there? Bit of a giveaway that. Bet you can’t find it in the atlas.) Anyhow they didn’t know any better. So there’s this bit of rock in the sea in the middle of the known world, this is difficult because there is nobody around to know yet. Pretty boring, because there’s nothing there; no trees, no birds (either variety), but, and here comes the interesting bit, this rock is getting bigger by the day. The big bit of Oceania in the south kept pushing upwards and the little bit in the north stayed still. The silly billys call it continental drift. What that’s got to do with France I don’t know.

The years went by and the rock got to be so big it was dangerous to any ships that came by, except there weren’t any ‘cos they hadn’t been invented yet. That saved a whole lot of tragic accidents happening though. Eventually people came along (imported from Africa so the story goes) they invented ships and by this time the rock was a proper island, it even had trees and hippos and crocodiles on it, no tourists though. The people in the ship, let’s call then Vonecians  to keep things simple, because there were lots of different types and I don’t want to confuse you all with all the names, you’d only get mixed up. They, the Vonecians came to this island and thought, “That’s pretty nifty. If you camp here you can see all around for miles and maybe attract some tourists.” So they stayed there and camped and looked out to sea for miles and waited and waited and waited, but no tourists came. You can see how bored the Vonecians must have been, because in the time they were waiting they discovered fire, made pottery and built settlements. For proof of this you can still see lots of the broken bits lying around. They even built towns. There’s one called Enkomi that’s very old possibly even the first new town in history. They even had guidebooks, if you go there you can still buy them. The build quality is what has now become standard on the island. Rubbish, I hear you say! It’s true. The roofs fell in, the drains got blocked , walls fell down and parking was a big problem, so finally they got well cheesed off and left. It’s rumoured, although we find no evidence, that they didn’t even have builders’ electric, but as I say that’s just rumour.  On their way home they seem to have lost a boat, which sank just outside Kyrenia harbor, you can see it even today in the museum in Kyrenia.

These people found some shiny metallic stuff in the ashes of the fires of they made and thought, “this is neat you can make things with this”, which they promptly did, mostly knives and spears and the like which they used for killing each other so they didn’t last very long in real terms. They did leave some nice graveyards and burial sites though. This time was called the Bronze Age. However, the fame of this shiny metal stuff got off the island somehow, which gives rise to the theory that at least some of them survived. This piqued the interest of the Fairyoh in Egypt, (again I used the modern name for this place for the aforementioned reasons), not the fact that some survived, but the metal stuff. Egypt was like America in those days a sort of superpower, but without aircraft carriers or McDonalds, but they did have a nice line in pyramids if you like that sort of thing. The Egyptians got heavily into mining the stuff (called ore by the way) to make the reddish shiny metal we call copper. They made a mint (boom boom!). They exported it all over the place in fact the island became world famous in Egypt for this very metal. The Egyptians themselves at the time weren’t great trade unionists. This is evident from the number hieroglyphics which tell us they used slaves (Boo! Power to the workers I say). The slaves were at times revolting and fled whenever they could, because even then it was very hot to work in the summer. Some managed to go to Greece and some to Italy (modern names again, I hope you’re getting the hang of this now). The fame of this metal spread and spread. Everyone wanted some. Typical of Egyptian shopkeepers, with demand up they tried it on with the pricing and the quality and the Italians got a bit peeved and invaded (or is it intervened?) the island. The Egyptians had no stomach for a good ruck, picked up their feet in both hands and left, leaving the Italians with a bit of a problem. Well how do you control a workforce that doesn’t speak the lingo? After a while this Caesar bloke gets the hang of it, beat all kinds of lumps out of them till they got the idea. Bad day for the workers though, same work longer hours and still no pay; definitely not a good career move. On the positive side they made a few nice graveyards though. The Italians were nicknamed Romans after awhile. Learned sources say this is down to Emperor Caligula, who at the time had a heavy speech impediment, who visited the island and was misquoted as saying. “I want to go home”. This is one of the most famous quotes which has followed us through history. You can even hear it being repeated in the bars in Lapta today. If only the punters knew the historical heritage of this sentence.

These Romans weren’t up to much either, spent far too much time running round in dresses and faffing about doing  plays in the theater if you ask me,  built some great theaters though, make no mistake.

While they’re at the theater watching some horror play no doubt, the next Vonetians come along and claim a bit of the Island for themselves. This lead to all sorts of fuss about property rights, which was only really put to bed when the new Vonetians left. The new Vonetians built a really cool palace at a place called Vouni, great views; the estate agent did a grand job there; pity again about the build quality. The place is now a ruin, now one of many on the island. The new Vonetians were short lived and the Romans still continued to be the flavor of the day. But dark days were ahead; very dark days.

To be continued

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