Cyprus, an island in the Eastern Mediterranean, at the cross-roads of three continents - Europe, Asia and Africa - has one of the oldest histories of the world, dating back 9000 years.
Its strategic position, its wealth in forests and mineral deposits, as well as its skilled craftsmen, made it the prized possession of the powers of the day.
Cultural influences came from all directions - all major regional civilisations left their mark on the island, contributing to the development of a very rich and diverse cultural heritage.
ANCIENT TIMES The Stone Age The first signs of human life on the island date back to c. 8500 BC during the Palaeolithic period. Evidence of human activity was found in cave dwellings near Liopetri, though it is not known whether they were just hunting parties passing through or permanent settlers.
The first undisputed settlements are believed to have been established towards the end of the 8th millennium BC.
Vestiges of such early communities are found all over the island, such as at Khirokitia, Kalavasos-Tenta, Apostolos Andreas- Kastros, Phrenaros, Petra tou Limniti.
Neolithic Cypriots built circular houses with small undressed stones for the lower structures and sun-dried mudbricks and clay for the middle and superstructure. The Khirokitia neolithic settlement in Larnaca district stands out as a striking example of prehistoric architecture.
The Neolithic settlement of Khirokitia The Bronze/ Copper Age Large copper deposits brought fame and wealth to the island and may have even given it its name. It has been documented that during the bronze age Cyprus had intense commercial relations with the main commercial and cultural centres of that time. During this period metallurgy and pottery flourished while close relations developed, particularly with Crete, which are also expressed in the Cypro-Minoan script which appeared in Cyprus around 1500 BC.