Friday, August 19, 2011

Tombs of the Kings

Since it is August, I remembered various previous holidays of mine. One archaeological site that intrigued me was the Tombs of the Kings in Paphos, Cyprus. I have never seen anything like it. 
The tombs are impressive, carved out of solid rock, some even featuring Doric pillars and frescoed walls. It acknowledges its design to Macedonian prototypes, passed down from Alexander's armies to the Ptolemies. 
However the name of this archaeological site is misleading due to the fact that there is no evidence of any royalty buried there. Instead, the site was the final resting place of about 100 Ptolemaic aristocrats who lived in Paphos during the 3rd century BC.

The reason why this site was given the name "Tombs of the Kings" was due to the impressiveness of the tombs. The name has since remained. 
The catacombs were later used by the Ancient Church and one of the tombs was even turned into a chapel. In the medieval era various tombs were used as makeshift dwellings or as workplaces. 
Unfortunately the site was systematically looted of artefacts long before excavations began in 1977. Nevertheless investigations continue till this day.
The Tombs of the Kings is declared as a World Cultural Heritage site by UNESCO, being maintained by the Cyprus Department of Antiquities.

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