Enkomi, a Late Bronze Age city on Cyprus

Enkomi was an important city in Late Bronze Age Cyprus that saw particular prosperity between about 1300 and 1100 BC. With its natural harbour (silting has now caused a change in the coastline), it was one of the coastal emporia or trading stations of the island, and was perhaps a centre for the export of copper, one of Cyprus' prime assets. The site was first inhabited about 1700-1650 BC and the latest evidence for occupation comes from the eleventh century BC.

A team from The British Museum first explored the site in 1896. They discovered an important hoard of bronzes, the contents of a smithy, that had been buried during one of the disasters that befell the town in the twelfth century BC. They also excavated tombs that contained very rich offerings, including fine jewellery. They did not, though, realize that the tombs in fact lay beneath houses. It was a French team in the 1930s that first discovered the city. Work was continued on the site by French and Cypriot teams until 1974, when Enkomi became inaccessible.

The city had streets crossing each other at right angles in a grid plan, with symmetrically positioned gates. The twelfth-century Cypriot town of Hala Sultan Tekké was laid out in the same way. Similar grid plans are known in Egypt from an early date, and there is a hint of such a plan in the city of Ugarit, on the Syrian coast just opposite Enkomi, which was the home of some Cypriots. At Enkomi, the houses had several rooms which were grouped around a central courtyard and there was an elaborate drainage system.

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