Limenoscope - Ancient Hellenic Ports
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Cyprus - Amathus
The city of Amathus is located in the northern coast of Cyprus, 10 klm. east of the city of Limassol, in an area with intense urban and touristic development. The area around was the territory of the homonymous classical kingdom.
A walled hill that overlooks the whole area, hosted the ancient administration center, a temple of Aphrodite and habitations. The city was moved to the northeast of the hill after Hellenistic times. To the south a small silted natural gulf, was probably the first city's port. At the end of 4th century B.C. a closed harbour, which is now totally submerged, was built at its southern side.
Human presence in the area is testified by archaeological findings from the 11th century B.C. Native Cyprian populations took refuge in the kingdom of Amathus after the island's conversion to Greek civilization in the 12th century B.C. The city reached its peak during the Iron Age, being a stop post on the seaway connecting the Aegean with Egypt, Syria and Palestine through Cyprus. The discovery of imported goods from these destinations provides evidence to these affairs. The city was razed and finally abandoned in the 7th century A.C. as a result of Arabian raids.  


Main features
Region Cyprus  
Use Military  
Prosperity period (centuries) 4th B.C. - 3rd B.C.  
Existence of contemporary port No  
Findings on site Yes  
General description
The remains of the ancient port of Amathus are today visible underwater. Three moles form a closed quadrilateral harbour basin. The entrance, about 20 meters wide, is located in the northeastern corner of the eastern side. The northern mole is 130 meters long, while the eastern and western are both 100 meters long. The city walls extend on the moles, creating a "limen kleistos" - enclosed harbour.
The piers were built using eight layers of plinths, seven of which are preserved. The blocks were used in the facets while the internal space was filled with rocks and rubble. Protective stones were placed to the external side. Tenons can be seen in the two small sides of the plinths, which were obviously used for lifting and placing them with a crane. The preceding natural gulf in the northern side of the basin was obviously included to the new harbour's plan.  
Technical features
Construction period (centuries) 4th B.C. - 3rd B.C.  
Port configuration Artificial Harbour, Outer Harbour  
Port basin size 13000 m2 
Main wind direction S
Port land area km2 
Port entrance  
Change of sea surface elevation 1 m 
Outer port structures Moles
Inner port structures Basins, Wharves  
Land facilities Defence Structures  
Construction method  
Neotectonic history Sink  
Shore line displacement Silting  
Function and operations
The ancient "closed" harbour of Amathus was built at the end of the 4th century possibly for supporting the warfare of Demetrios Poliorketes or Ptolemy Soter and it was abandoned, maybe even before its completion, when Ptolemy Soter reseized Cyprus at 294 B.C.
The naval trade and the war fleet of Amathus were stationed until then in the natural gulf north of the Hellenistic closed port. The basin of this natural port, which is today located under the old national road of Limassol - Nicosia, has been investigated with electromagnetic methods by the French Archaeological School of Athens that excavated the outer harbour from 1984 to 1986.  
References in ancient literature
  • Skylax Periplus77.103
  • Strabo Geography XIV.6.3
  • Stadiasmus 297-317  
  • Related researches Archeological, Geological  
    Findings in museums No  
    Other references
  • Aupert P., 1996, Guide d'Amathonte, De Boccard, Paris
  • Aupert P., 1980, "Amathonte. Rapport Preliminaire (1975-1979)", Report of the Department of Antiquities of Cyprus, Nicosia, 217-231
  • Empereur J.-Y., 1985, "Le Port d'Amathonte", Bulletin de Correspondance Hell?nique 109, 984-989
  • Empereur J.-Y., C.Verlinden, 1986, "Le Port d'Amathonte", Bulletin de Correspondance Hellenique 110, 899-907
  • Empereur J.-Y., C.Verlinden, 1986, "The Underwater Excavation at the Ancient Port of Amathus in Cyprus", The International Journal of Nautical Archaeology 15.4, 1-13
  • Empereur J.-Y., C.Verlinden, 1986, "Le Port Antique d' Amathonte ? Chypre", Archeologia 215, 32-37
  • Empereur J.-Y., C.Verlinden, 1987, "The Underwater Excavation at the Ancient Port of Amathus in Cyprus", The International Journal of Nautical Archaeology 16.1, 7-18
  • Empereur J.-Y., C.Verlinden, 1987, "Le Port d' Amathonte", Bullentin de Correspondance Hellenique 111, 755-759
  • Empereur J.-Y., 1995, "Le Port Hellenistique d' Amathonte" in V. Karageorgis- D. Michaelides (eds), Proceedings of the International Symposium: Cyprus and the Sea, University of Cyprus-Cyprus Ports Authority, Nicosia, 131-138
  • Maragou Α., 1997, The ports of Cyprus, Cultural Center of Popoular Bank, Nicosia, 224-228 (in Greek)
  • Aupert P. (ed), Amathonte VI, "Le Port d' Amathonte", Ecole Francaise d' Athen
  • Aupert P., 1979 "Rapport sur les Travaux de la Mission de l' Εcole Francaise a Amathonte en 1978. Les Activite sur le Terrain. Le Port d' Amathonte" Bullentin de Correspondance Hellenique 103, 725-728
  • Aupert P. (ed), 1999, Οδηγός Αμαθούντας, Πολιτιστικό Ίδρυμα Τράπεζας Κύπρου, Λευκωσία
  • Raban A., 1995, "The heritage of ancient harbour engineering in Cyprus and the Levant" in V. Karageorgis- D. Michaelides (eds), Proceedings of the International Symposium Cyprus and the Sea, University of Cyprus-Cyprus Ports Authority, Nicosia, 158-161
  • Nicolaou Κ., 1966, "Ancient ports in Cyprus", Deltion Tmimatos Politistikis Anaptyxeos, Ministry of Education of Cyprus 6-7 (1966), Nicosia, 96-97 (in Greek)
  • Theodoulou T., 2002, "The port of the kingdom of Amathus" []
  • "Mission archeologique d'Amathonte Chypre - Amathonte : le port" []  
  • Protection regime  
    Author Theotokis Theodoulou  
    Editor Theotokis Theodoulou  
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