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Amathus Archaeological Site

The archaeological site of the ancient city, Amathus, dates back to 1100 BC during the Graeco-Phoenician period and is one of the most important historical sites in Cyprus. Situated in the Agios Tychonas district, it has a lower and upper site accessible from the coastal road. The lower site contains the ruins of an agora (marketplace) with marble columns and large paved squares. There is also evidence of an Early Christian basilica with mosaic floors.

The site is still being excavated and it is thought that some present-day buildings now occupy areas of the site. The objects retrieved from excavations can be viewed in the Cyprus Museum in Nicosia and in the Limassol Archaeological Museum.

A temple to Aphrodite was erected on the upper site during the Hellenic period, which was subsequently replaced with a Roman temple under Roman rule. Pictured below is a replica of the world's largest monolithic vase from the 6th century BC, used also throughout the Roman period. The original vase is located in the Louvre Museum, Paris. It is made of limestone, weighs 14 tons and is 1.85 metres high. It was used to hold water for use in temple rituals, libations and ablutions as well as for drinking and feet washing of the pilgrims. The symbol of the bull indicates it was used in association with the pagan cult of Aphrodite (goddess of fertility), which was prevalent in Cyprus from the third millennium BC.

This colossal vase is a stark reminder of the vain efforts of an ancient people to appease pagan gods through ritual washing and libations. If we fast forward to the first century AD, to the time of Jesus, we recall His words in John 7 on the last day of the Feast of the Tabernacles in Jerusalem. Perhaps it was in response to the libation made at the Jewish temple altar during the festival:

On the last day, that great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried out, saying, “If anyone thirsts, let him come to Me and drink. He who believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.”

John 7:37-38

It is only the Lord Jesus who can quench the spiritual thirst of humankind and who can impart the Holy Spirit into our hearts.

All the water contained in the stone vases (there was also a smaller one) of Amathus could never remove guilt and sin. Christ's death on the cross was to atone for our sins and bear our guilt. Through repentance and faith, we can have our sins forgiven and obtain peace with God.

... who Himself bore our sins in His own body on the tree, that we, having died to sins, might live for righteousness—by whose stripes you were healed.

1 Peter 2:24

View from the cliff top - Amathus Archaeological Site and St Raphael Marina


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