1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Citium

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CITIUM (Gr. Kition), the principal Phoenician city in Cyprus, situated at the north end of modern Larnaca, on the bay of the same name on the S.E. coast of the island. Converging currents from E. and W. meet and pass seawards off Cape Kiti a few miles south, and greatly facilitated ancient trade. To S. and W. the site is protected by lagoons, the salt from which was one of the sources of its prosperity. The earliest remains near the site go back to the Mycenaean age (c. 1400–1100 B.C.) and seem to mark an Aegean colony:[1] but in historic times Citium is the chief centre of Phoenician influence in Cyprus. That this was still a recent settlement in the 7th century is suggested by an allusion in a list of the allies of Assur-bani-pal of Assyria in 668 B.C. to a King Damasu of Ķartihadasti (Phoenician for “New-town”), where Citium would be expected. A Phoenician dedication to “Baal of Lebanon” found here, and dated also to the 7th century, suggests that Citium may have belonged to Tyre. The biblical name Kittim, derived from Citium, is in fact used quite generally for Cyprus as a whole[2] later also for Greeks and Romans in general.[3] The discovery here of an official monument of Sargon II. suggests that Citium was the administrative centre of Cyprus during the Assyrian protectorate (700–668 B.C.).[4] During the Greek revolts of 500, 386 foll. and 352 B.C., Citium led the side loyal to Persia and was besieged by an Athenian force in 449 B.C.; its extensive necropolis proves that it remained a considerable city even after the Greek cause triumphed with Alexander. But like other cities of Cyprus, it suffered repeatedly from earthquake, and in medieval times when its harbour became silted the population moved to Larnaca, on the open roadstead, farther south. Harbour and citadel have now quite disappeared, the latter having been used to fill up the former shortly after the British occupation; some gain to health resulted, but an irreparable loss to science. Traces remain of the circuit wall, and of a sanctuary with copious terra-cotta offerings; the large necropolis yields constant loot to illicit excavation.

Bibliography.—W. H. Engel, Kypros (Berlin, 1841), (classical allusions); J. L. Myres, Journ. Hellenic Studies, xvii. 147 ff. (excavations); Cyprus Museum Catalogue (Oxford, 1899), p. 5-6; 153-155; Index (Antiquities); G. F. Hill, Brit. Mus. Cat. Coins of Cyprus (London, 1904), (Coins).  (J. L. M.) 

  1. Cf. the name Kathian in a Ramessid list of cities of Cyprus, Oberhummer, Die Insel Cypern (Munich, 1903), p. 4.
  2. Gen. x. 4; Num. xxiv. 24; Is. xxiii. 1, 12; Jer. ii. 10; Ezek.
  3. Dan. xi. 30; I Macc. i. 1; viii. 5.
  4. Schrader, “Die Sargonstele des Berliner Museums,” in Abh. d. k. Preuss. Akad. Wiss. (1881); Zur Geogr. d. assyr. Reiches (Berlin, 1890), pp. 337-344.