Who was Buried in the Tombs of the Kings

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The ancient necropolis situated on the coast of Pafos is known as the Tombs of the Kings. This is something of a misnomer, however, as there were no kings in Cyprus at the time of its establishment. Students of history will recall that the island had been divided into politically independent kingdoms prior to its liberation from Persian influence by Alexander the Great. After his untimely demise in 323 BCE, two of his generals vied for control of Cyprus. Ptolemy I Soter, the king of Egypt, prevailed, and he abolished the kingdoms and established Nea Pafos as his administrative capital. The necropolis was carved from soft sandstone just north and east of the city wall. During this, the Hellenistic era (323 to 31 BCE), Greek language, culture, and thought unified elites across the Middle East. Though the idea of a necropolis—a collection of homes for the dead—had a long tradition in Egypt, the Greek influence is seen in the presence of atriums lined with Doric columns in monumental tombs laid out like Hellenistic houses. Indeed, it could be said that these tombs are fit for a king, and it is this impression that led to the naming of the complex. Historians believe that the tombs held the remains of the families of high-ranking officials and prominent citizens from Ptolemy’s Nea Pafos. Burials continued into the early Roman era (3rd century CE). The site is now open for your exploration as part of the Kato Pafos Archaeological site.

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