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:
Eketorp is an Iron Age fort in southeastern Öland, which was extensively reconstructed and enlarged in the Middle Ages. Throughout the ages the fortification has served a variety of somewhat differing uses: from defensive ringfort, to medieval safe haven and thence a cavalry garrison. In the 20th century it was further reconstructed to become a heavily visited tourist site and a location for re-enactment of medieval battles. Eketorp is the only one of the 19 known prehistoric fortifications on Öland that has been completely excavated, yielding a total of over 24,000 individual artifacts. The entirety of southern Öland has been designated as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO. The Eketorp fortification is often referred to as Eketorp Castle.
The indigenous peoples of the Iron Age constructed the original fortification about 400 AD, a period known to have engendered contact between Öland natives with Romans and other Europeans. The ringfort in that era is thought to have been a gathering place for religious ceremonies and also a place of refuge for the local agricultural community when an outside enemy appeared. The circular design was believed to be chosen because the terrain is so level that attack from any side was equally likely. The original diameter of this circular stone fortification was about 57 metres. In the next century the stone was moved outward to construct a new circular structure of about 80 metres in diameter. At this juncture there were known to be about fifty individual cells or small structures within the fort as a whole. Some of these cells were in the center of the fortified ring, and some were actually built into the wall itself.
In the late 600s AD the ringfort was mysteriously abandoned, and it remained unused until the early 11th century. This 11th century work generally built upon the earlier fort, except that stone interior cells were replaced with timber structures, and a second outer defensive wall was erected.
Presently the fort is used as a tourist site for visitors to Öland to experience a medieval fortification for this region. A museum within the castle walls displays a few of the large number of artefacts retrieved by the National Heritage Board during the major decade long excavation ending in 1974. Inside the fort visitors are greeted by actors in medieval costumes who assume the roles of period artisans and merchants who might have lived there nine centuries earlier. There are also re-enactment scenes of skirmishes and other dramatic events of daily life from the Middle Ages.
Eketorp lies a few kilometers west of Route 136. There is an ample unpaved parking area situated approximately two kilometers west of the paved Öland perimeter highway. There is also a gift shop on site. During peak summer visitation, there are guided tours available. Visitors are assessed an admission charge.