Tamassos is an archaeological site which lies under the modern villages of Politiko, Pera and Episkopio. Visible today in the large site are the temple of Aphrodite, two majestic royal tombs as well as several smaller ones. It seems that Tamasos was founded around the 8th century B.C., in an area which was already inhabited from the Late Bronze Age, and until the first half of the 7th century it had developed into an important city-kingdom of Cyprus. From its foundation until the Roman period the town prospered greatly due to the exploitation of the mines in its environs.
In the second half of the 4th century the king of Tamasos, Pasikypros, sold the city to the king of Kition, Poumiathon, and Tamasos therefore came under the ownership of the Phoenicians. The domination of the Phoenicians did not last very long since Tamasos along with her mines had been conceded to the kingdom of Salamis until the final abolition of the kingdoms by the Ptolemy kings in 312-311 B.C. Apart from the fact that in the first half of the 1st century A.D. Tamassos became one of the Christian bishoprics of Cyprus, the city did not play an important role during the Hellenistic and Roman periods.
The first excavations at the site took place in 1889, 1890 and 1894 by Ohnefalsch Richter, who excavated many tombs of the Late Bronze Age and three royal tombs of the Cypro-Archaic period, of which only two survive today. The tombs were carved in such a way that their construction resembles a wooden building with a pediment. Adjacent to these tombs the Department of Antiquities brought to light (in 1997) six intact limestone sculptures (two sphinxes and four lions), which probably protected the entrance of these tombs. The sculptures are exhibited today in the Cyprus Museum (Lefkosia). Three more tombs, the first dating to the Bronze Age, the second to the Archaic period and the third to the Hellenistic and Roman periods, have been excavated in and around the actual village of Politiko.
During the excavations carried out in 1970-1980 by the German Archaeological Institute under the direction of Hans-Gunter Buchholz, part of the strong defensive wall surrounding the city during the Archaic period was uncovered as well as part of the ancient city with shrines and installations for the exploitation of bronze. The temple of Aphrodite and the temple of the Mother Goddess, identified as Cybele, were constructed in the Cypro-Archaic II period and were destroyed during the revolt against the Persians in the beginning of the 5th century B.C. Towards the end of the 4th century these were rebuilt with a different architectural plan. It seems that there were many more shrines around Tamasos but these have not yet been uncovered.
During the Early Christian period a large three aisled basilica was erected upon the burial place of Saint Herakleidios, southeast of ancient Tamassos, in honour of its first bishop. This basilica fell into ruins and many other churches were constructed in its place until the church took its final form in 1773. Today the church is part of a convent.References:
Derbent is the southernmost city in Russia, occupying the narrow gateway between the Caspian Sea and the Caucasus Mountains connecting the Eurasian steppes to the north and the Iranian Plateau to the south. Derbent claims to be the oldest city in Russia with historical documentation dating to the 8th century BCE. Due to its strategic location, over the course of history, the city changed ownership many times, particularly among the Persian, Arab, Mongol, Timurid, Shirvan and Iranian kingdoms.
Derbent has archaeological structures over 5,000 years old. As a result of this geographic peculiarity, the city developed between two walls, stretching from the mountains to the sea. These fortifications were continuously employed for a millennium and a half, longer than any other extant fortress in the world.
A traditionally and historically Iranian city, the first intensive settlement in the Derbent area dates from the 8th century BC. The site was intermittently controlled by the Persian monarchs, starting from the 6th century BC. Until the 4th century AD, it was part of Caucasian Albania which was a satrap of the Achaemenid Persian Empire. In the 5th century Derbent functioned as a border fortress and the seat of Sassanid Persians. Because of its strategic position on the northern branch of the Silk Route, the fortress was contested by the Khazars in the course of the Khazar-Arab Wars. In 654, Derbent was captured by the Arabs.
The Sassanid fortress does not exist any more, as the famous Derbent fortress as it stands today was built from the 12th century onward. Derbent became a strong military outpost and harbour of the Sassanid empire. During the 5th and 6th centuries, Derbent also became an important center for spreading the Christian faith in the Caucasus.
The site continued to be of great strategic importance until the 19th century. Today the fortifications consist of two parallel defence walls and Naryn-Kala Citadel. The walls are 3.6km long, stretching from the sea up to the mountains. They were built from stone and had 73 defence towers. 9 out of the 14 original gates remain.
In Naryn-Kala Citadel most of the old buildings, including a palace and a church, are now in ruins. It also holds baths and one of the oldest mosques in the former USSR.
In 2003, UNESCO included the old part of Derbent with traditional buildings in the World Heritage List.