- Lemesos: A History of Limassol in Cyprus from Antiquity to the Ottoman Conquest eds. by Angel Nicolaou-Konnari and Chris Schabel
This extensive volume is exemplary in terms of its structure, content, and editorial adequacy. It takes a sound academic approach to the history of one of the most important cities of the eastern Mediterranean, one that played a special role in the development of the region during the Middle Ages. Six scholars describe Limassol's history from prehistoric times to the conquest of Cyprus by the Ottomans, presenting much hitherto unknown information.
Antoine Hermary, emeritus professor of the University of Aixen-Provence, who was for many years the head of the excavations of the French archaeological mission at Amathus, Cyprus, makes a comprehensive analysis of the history of that city from the eleventh century BC to the seventh century AD, when the city was abandoned because of Arab raids. He presents Amathus as the predecessor city of Limassol—the latter evolved into a major city only after the decline and the abandonment of Amathus, as was the case with Palepaphos and Paphos, Engomi and Salamis, as well as other cities of Cyprus that succeeded more ancient predecessors. To begin, Hermary surveys the topography of the ancient city and makes a short presentation of the history of the successive excavations of the French mission under Melchior Vogue in 1862, the excavations of Luigi Palma di Cesnola around 1875, the excavation in the necropolis by a mission of the British Museum in 1893–94, and finally the excavation of the Swedish archaeological mission under Einar Gjerstad in 1930.
Hermary then focuses on the excavation of the acropolis by the archaeological mission of the French School of Athens under the supervision initially of Pierre Aupert and [End Page 103] later of Sabine Fourrien and Hermary himself. He also describes the excavation of the lower city by the Cypriot archaeologists Michalis Loulloupis and Pavlos Flourentzos. Hermary notes, "Amathus remained very little known until the inception of 1975 of the excavations on the acropolis," but the city has in fact been a significant presence in the myths and the history of ancient Cyprus. Still, it is true that the systematic excavations since 1975 and, most important, the discovery of the famous temple of Aphrodite made Amathus one of the region's most significant archaeological sites and contributed to the rescue of the site from the significant touristic development of the region. The description of the temple of Aphrodite in the acropolis, with reference to the palaces, the necropolis, and the Hellenistic and Roman markets, has a dominant place in Hermary's chapter. His description of the findings provides an important and detailed analysis of the history of the city.
In the volume's second chapter, "Limassol in Antiquity: From Its Origins to the End of the Roman Period," Laurence Alpe focuses on the history of Limassol through the lens of the excavations of tombs in various parts of the city, which prove the presence of humans in the area in the early Bronze Age. A variety of tombs date to as early as the second millennium BC and as late as the early Hellenistic age, demonstrating the limits of Limassol's regional importance. These settlements had limited economic range and seemed to be under the influence and the control of the neighboring Amathus.
In the third chapter, "Neapolis/Nemesos/Limassol: The Rise of a Byzantine Settlement from Late Antiquity to the Time of Crusades," Tassos Papacostas, lecturer in Byzantine material culture at King's College, London, makes a comprehensive analysis of the history of Limassol from the late antiquity to the occupation of Cyprus by Richard the Lionheart in 1191. Papacostas makes good use of ancient sources, archaeological remains, sacred and church texts, and other testimonies. He suggests that the name Neapolis, by which the city is referred to in some old texts, is due to the displacement...