The port of the Kingdom of Kyrenia


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The kingdom of Kyrenia occupied the east central region of the north coast of Cyprus. The historian Hill mentions that Kyrenia is referred to for the first time as a city under the independent king definitely after 315 b.C (Hill 1940, 113).

Sea Harbour

Ancient Written Sources

Pseudo-Skyllax mentions the town with Lapethos, Marion and Amathous with the comment, that they all have deserted harbours (…αὗται πάσαι λιμένας ἔχουσαι ἐρήμους…). The city is also mentioned in the catalogues of Pliny with the name Corinaeon and by Ptolemy as Keravnia, however this connection has not been substantiaed. Strabo does not mention the city, when Stadiasmos states that Kyrenia is a city with an"ὕφορμον" (=harbour ?) (…Ἀπὸ Σόλων ε°ς Κερύνειαν στάδιοι τν'. πόλις ἐστὶν. ἔχει …)

Selected Written Sources


The only research that was done at the harbour was a brief survey made by the team of Linder and Raban in 1971 (Raban 1995, 166). It is alas reffered to Nicolaou’s catalogue of Cypriot Harbour.



He states in 1966 that, " The breakwater behind the castle of Kyrenia, which is today utilised for the same purpose, the new harbour of the city, was built with large blocks similar to those used at other ancient harbours. It must therefore be an ancient breakwater and not medieval mole for the protection of the castle as many would believe". Under the construction works of the new port the ancient breakwater still survives, as the research of 1971 has proven. Although the modern harbour entrance is located to the east, the ancient entrance must have been placed to the north-west as it was up until the reorientation of the entrance in the 1950’s. On a map of …. the remains that Nicolaou refers to are marked as being ancient sea-walls. The plan from the 1971 survey simply refers to the breakwaters as archaeological remains with a questionmark added to indicate the uncertanty of the statement. On the western breakwater, which is now covered by the modern facility, the upper remains of the Roman and medieval moles can be discerned, whose size (0.6x1x2.3m) act as the base for the modern western breakwater. This is now joined to the eastern breakwater and thus has closed of the ancient entrance to the harbour.

The ancient western breakwater, visible along its entire length, is orientated in a NE direction. It reaches a distance of 40m from its origin, and end a few meters further from the modern lighthouse. For approximately 19m after this point the breakwater curves slightly to the northwest. Past this point the breakwater continues for a further 20m, at a depth of 6m, and turns further northwest towards the open sea where Hellenistic pottery was discovered.



To the west of the mole, at a depth of 3m, lies a submerged platform covered by ashlar slabs. The construction is founded on a carved rock base, and is built using square blocks measuring some 0.6x0.5x2m. It follows the whole length of the breakwater (c. 40m) and terminates in the west in a vertical quay. Hellenistic and Classical pottery was recovered also in the area.



In conclusion it may be seen that Kyrenia existed as an unimportant Classical city that as a consequense, was overshadowed by the neighbouring kingdom of Lapethos. By the end of the Classical period Kyrenia began to compete with Lapethos, and by 315 BC the city was under the rule of an independent king. This would confirm Pseudo-Skyllax’s comments, providing that he was referring to the mid 4th century. Under the influence of a new independence new harbour works and reconstruction was undertaken, as the pottery evidence suggests. Similarly, the evidence provided by the Kyrenia wreck, that travelled and eventually sunk at the end of the 4th century, also indicates a new maritime capability most likely provided by the Kyrenia harbour (Katzev 1972). The cargo of the wreck revealed a quantity of almonds, that gave a C14 date of 288 +/- 62, whereas coins were also found of Antigonos Monophthalmos and Demetrius the Besieger. It is most likely that these same installations and harbour facilities, with Roman additions, were the ones referred to by Stadiasmos, noting that Kyrenia was a city with a "ύφορμο" (harbour?).



Katzev M.L., 1972 "The Kerynia Ship", in Bass George F. (ed.), A History of Seafaring ’ased on Under-water Archaeology, Walter Publishing Company -Thames and Hudson, London

Hill G., 1940 A History of Cyprus I, Cambridge University Press, London

Νικολάου Κ., 1966 ”Αρχαίοι Λιμένες εν Κύπρω”, Δελτίον Τμήματος Πολιτιστικής Αναπτύξεως Υπουργείου Παιδείας Κύπρου 6-7 (1966), Λευκωσία, 98

Μαραγκού Α. Γ., 1997 Τα Λιμάνια της Κύπρου, Πολιτιστικό Κέντρο Λαϊκής Τράπεζας, Λευκωσία, 269-280

Raban A., 1995 "The Ηeritage of Αncient Ηarbour Εngineering in Cyprus and the Levant" in Karageorgis V. – D. Michaelides (ed.), Proceedings of the International Symposium Cyprus and the Sea, University of Cyprus-Cyprus Ports Authority, Nicosia, 166



Θεοδούλου Θ. / Theodoulou, Th.


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