The History of Cyprus Podcast

Welcome to the History of Cyprus Podcast. Follow us on Instagram! https://instagram.com/thehistoryofcyprus I’d like to thank each and every participant (and every future guest) in this project as without their time and hard work in their respective fields of archaeology, linguistics, social and political history, this would not have been possible. Every month I will be releasing a new episode as it relates to Cypriot history. In this podcast we’ll cover Cyprus from 10,000 BCE to the 20th century – we’ll discuss language, culture, war, economy, religion, political and social history. I’m confident that there’ll be something here for everyone. If you’d like to reach me, my name is Andreas. Please feel free to send me an email at cyprusthepodcast@gmail.com The podcast image, "Dressed for the Gods" (250BC) is from the British Museum taken by William Warby. Check out more of his work at flickr.com/photos/wwarby/

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Episodes

4 days ago

Happy Halloween! This Primary Source is long overdue -- originally recorded to accompany the episode, "Magic, Spells & Curses with Drew Wilburn." This (creepy) rendition uses a bit of dramatic license to reimagine the writing of the 2nd/3rd century CE curse tablet. With that being said, it is a Primary Source, so you're hearing the exact wording from one of the Cypriot curse tablets excavated from Amathus, Cyprus!Our reader invokes the Furies and all the underworld chthonic deities to muzzle its intended target. You'll hear some unintelligible mutterings as well. These were written to be "magical invocations" that had no discernable meaning. If you haven't had a chance to listen to my interview with Drew Wilburn, check it out! *If you're looking for this episode next month, it will be renamed as "Primary Source I" and placed before "Magic, Spells & Curses with Drew Wilburn."

4 days ago

This month, we travel back to the 12th century BCE with Professor Louise Hitchcock (University of Melbourne) where we discuss Cyprus' role in the Bronze Age. Rather than being a passive island, swept up in a sea of empires, Cyprus (Alashiya) was an integral piece in a well-oiled Bronze Age machine. With its vast reserves of copper, Cyprus more than held its own in this period as the Amarna Letters can attest. In fact, it's unique decentralized political system had allowed it to weather the infamous Bronze Age collapse. Its systems survived, and in some cases thrived, while other Bronze Age empires crumbled. And while literacy was snuffed out in Mycenaean Greece, Cyprus' own writing systems persisted. Join us for Cyprus in the Bronze Age!

Tuesday Sep 13, 2022

This month's primary source dates to circa 1350BCE. It is a Letter from the King of Alashiya (i.e., Cyprus) to the Pharaoh of Egypt. This particular letter, EA 35, has been dubbed, "The Hand of Nergal." The Amarna Letters are a series of correspondences between the Great Powers in the Bronze Age written in Akkadian using the cuneiform script (the diplomatic language of the Bronze Age). In this abridged reading, you'll hear the King of Alashiya call the Pharaoh "brother" a number of times. This "honorific" reflects their equal footing as sovereigns and hints at Cyprus' strength as a regional power. Chillingly, however, you'll hear him refer to the "Hand of Nergal" -- the plague god that has decimated the island and impacted his ability to export copper. Next month's episode, we'll learn about the Amarna Letters, Alashiya and more. Join us we explore the Bronze Age with Louise Hitchcock!

Thursday Sep 01, 2022

In 1191, Richard the Lionheart conquered Cyprus from the illegitimate despot, Isaac Komnenos, setting in motion several hundred years of Western rule and influence. The Medieval Period is, perhaps, one of the richest and conspicuous on the island – after all, the island’s landscape is dotted with castles, medieval fortifications and beautiful cathedrals. And so, to explore these political events and cultural changes, we interview Medieval historian, Professor Nicholas Coureas from the University of Cyprus. We discuss Cyprus’ transition as a province in Byzantium, into a truly independent Medieval State in the eastern Mediterranean that was, surprisingly, quite multicultural and multilingual.

Saturday Aug 13, 2022

This month’s primary source is an excerpt from Jacobus de Verona -- an Augustinian monk who visited Cyprus in 1335. Intriguingly, you’ll hear him mention a peculiar drink called “Marea.” Supposedly, this drink was popular enough that it was even exported to the papal court at Avignon in the fourteenth century. However, as with all primary sources, we must be cautious. Travel texts were often lifted from other travelogues. Though Jacobus de Verona highlights the multicultural and multireligious aspects of medieval Cyprus, he often does so uncritically, making a number of mistakes in what he says about non-Latin religious customs. That still shouldn't detract from what he says about the surprising amount of diversity in medieval Cyprus. Next month, we’ll learn more about this often misunderstood period in Cypriot history. Join me as I discuss “Multiculturalism & the Medieval Age: Frankish Cyprus with Nicholas Coureas.”

Monday Aug 01, 2022

Let's start with the end in mind. The end of the fourth century BCE was a tumultuous period in Cypriot history. According to Diodorus Siculus, "Ptolemy...crossed with an army from Egypt into Cyprus against those of the kings who refused to obey him."  (Diod Sic 79.4) The ruler of Kition, Pygmalion, was put to death. King Praxippus of Lapethos was arrested. The city of Marion was razed. And King Nicocles of Paphos, seeing the writing on the wall, chose to hang himself. His wife, Axiothea, tragically killed her daughters and then herself before burning the palace down in defiance. Their deaths, among others, brought an end to the Cypriot City-Kingdoms and ushered in the Ptolemaic Age. However, for centuries, the Cypriot City-Kingdoms (i.e., poleis) thrived on the periphery of Assyrian, and later, Persian rule. Though never truly "independent," Cypriot Kings skillfully wielded their political currency. But just how did they navigate the changing geo-political landscape? Let us be clear: Cyprus, as a whole, was never passive. In fact, these poleis were as dynamic as their rulers. City-Kingdoms forged and severed alliances; willfully provoked and pacified regional powers; and even dared to defy Achaemenid (Persian) will in the Eastern Mediterranean. In this month's episode, Christian Körner, from the University of Bern, discusses with us "Cyprus Between the Assyrian and Persian Empires."

Wednesday Jul 13, 2022

I'm excited to introduce a NEW FEATURE to the History of Cyprus Podcast! Rather than simply recording a short teaser, I'd instead post a dramatic rendition of a primary source as it relates to the following month's episode. In this case, you'll hear an excerpt from Isocrates', The Evagoras. These short readings will be posted on the 15th of every month and will hint at the next episode.  Primary sources are invaluable as they give us direct insight into the period in question -- but they also need to be treated with caution. Let's take today's reading for example: Isocrates' The Evagoras is one of our principal sources for the Classical Period in Cyprus. For Isocrates, Evagoras was the model ruler. It depicts the king through the lens of Isocrates’ personal beliefs, which, however, need to be critically analyzed. He is a rhetorician and a sophist. Ostensibly, Isocrates wants there to be unity between Spartans and Athenians -- but under Athenian hegemony. For Isocrates, to truly be a Hellene one must learn to think and live as a Hellene, i.e., possess Athenian education. Athens to Isocrates is, of course, the pinnacle of Greek culture to which a great debt is owed.   Evagoras of Salamis, then, fits the Isocratean mould and we can see what makes his character so appealing to Isocrates. According to Isocrates, Evagoras “inspired respect, not by the frowning of his brow, but by the principles of his life” (Isoc. Evagoras 9.44). Not only is Evagoras philhellenic, he is more specifically phil-Athenian. As king he “observed Greek institutions,” “the liberal arts” and “[Greek] education” (Isoc. Evagoras 9.50). He possessed all the qualities that made him a Philosopher King in his own right but most importantly, in the view of Isocrates, he was a true philhellene.  We must be cautious though; the Evagoras was written as an encomium (a eulogy) and according to Plutarch, was commissioned by his son and heir, Nicocles. Evagoras’ qualities are showed as unparalleled, if not, divinely bestowed -- inherited from his ancestors, endowed by nature and willed by Zeus himself. It presents a romanticized -- and idealized -- philhellenic king. Isocrates tells the reader that, lamentably, in the years preceding Evagoras “the best rulers were those who treated the Greeks in the most cruel fashion” (Isoc. Evagoras 9.49). Yet Evagoras paradoxically campaigned against other philhellenic city-states on Cyprus. We must remember that historically, Cyprus had been fragmented politically into quasi-city kingdoms as each vied for its own independence (even the term "city-kingdoms" can be somewhat problematic). They were hardly driven by nationalistic or patriotic Hellenic sentiment, but by self-preservation. The Evagoras makes no mention of this, nor does it navigate the questionable Persian/Athenian alliance during the Corinthian War. That, of course, would be inconsistent with the story Isocrates weaves. Isocrates is decisively not an historian. But I’m far from an expert on this time period. That’s why I hope you join me on August 2nd  as Professor Christian Körner from the University of Bern discusses "Cyprus Between the Assyrian and Persian Empires." For more frequent updates, follow The History of Cyprus on Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/thehistoryofcyprus/   

Friday Jul 01, 2022

Worried about indigestion? We might have an amulet for that. Well...at least ancient Cypriots did. Cypriot doctors were renowned – not just in treating patients but producing treatises and even their own schools. With us today is Professor Emeritus, Demetrios Michaelides, who shares with us his knowledge of ancient medicine and its function in Cyprus.

Thursday Jun 02, 2022

𐠊𐠒𐠫𐠥𐠨𐠮 Make sure you read that from right to left. Cypriot Syllabary preceded the Greek alphabet by several centuries but it certainly wasn’t the only script (or language) in use in Cyprus at the time. Our guest today is Dr. Pippa Steele, Senior Research Associate at the Faculty of Classics from the University of Cambridge where we will be discussing Cyprus’ first recorded languages and their scripts.Check out Charles "Pico" Rickleton's work on Speculative Syllabic. He uses his visual communication background to reimagine Cypriot Syllabary in the 21st century. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yRL_OLgisNg&t=5s

Thursday Jun 02, 2022

I invoke you demons… dead by violence and dead before your time and deprived of burial...you who lie here below, dead before your time and nameless…If you lived in Cyprus 2,000 years ago, you may have been the target of just such a curse. Dr. Drew Wilburn discusses spells, magic and curses in ancient Cyprus and the Amathusian Curse Tablets.*Apologies, folks. The microphone quality on my end is a bit subpar for this recording. Will try and fix that for future episodes

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The History of Cyprus Podcast

This podcast has broad aim of discussing the various facets of Cypriot history in a monthly episodic format. My guests range from archaeologists, linguists, anthropologists and social and political historians -- experts in their respective fields. This, as far as I am aware, is the first such English podcast dedicated to the various facets of Cypriot history while providing a platform for academics to share new and exciting research in their respective fields.

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