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The Archaeological Museum of Nicosia houses magnificent exhibits, through which the Greek roots of the island magically unfold.
Extended illicit trade of antiquities
The Museum was founded in 1882, during the British occupation. Its goal was to curve the ever-growing number of illegal excavations.
Most of the antiquities were pilfered by the US ambassador, Luigi Palma di Cesnola, who removed more than 35,000 ancient artifacts -most of which were destroyed during transport to the US.
Many of the sculptures that reached the US in one piece ended up in the then newly founded Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, where they are still exhibited today.
The modern building
Civil engineer Nikolaos Balanos of the Archaeological Society of Athens began the construction of the new building in 1908.
The plan was to move the 1882 Museum to a new location. However, the second phase of construction works ended in 1961.
The artifacts are so many that they don’t fit in the Museum, so visitors can see just a small portion of what was discovered.
Cyprus has many ancient Greek artifacts that would need not one, but more than ten museums in order to be exhibited properly.
These artifacts prove, without a doubt, the Greek roots of the island.
It “escaped” Attila
The Archaeological Museum is situated very close to the "Attila line" in Nicosia.
It was a fortunate incident that it survived the Turkish invasion in 1974, so that people today may enjoy it.
The artifacts housed in the Museum are of great importance and interest, so much so that Greeks should visit it.
A trip to Cyprus is a duty and the destination of a lifetime for every Greek.
Thousands of years of history
Cyprus has been inhabited for millennia, so its importance, from an archaeological point of view, is of global importance.
Indicatively, excavations at the Aetokremnos of Cyprus brought to light samples of stonework and jewelry dating back to the 10th millennium B.C.
In Shillourokambos, wells and living quarters from 8,200 – 7,500 B.C. -fenced in with wooden stakes- were unearthed.
Group burial sites and specimens of domesticated cattle and cereal, dating back to 8,200-8,000 B.C, were also found.
In Khirikitia (sometimes also spelled Choirokoitia), an organized settlement from 7,000-5,800 B.C. of a mixed economy and protected by a defensive wall was unearthed.
TEXT-PHOTOS: GEORGE ZAFEIROPOULOS