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Alasia


In the 19th century B.C, the island is mentioned for the first time in Near Eastern records as a copper-producing country under the name ‘Alasia’. It continued to be an important source of copper for the Near East and Egypt throughout most of the second millennium B.C. Inscriptions in cuneiform script of the 18th and 17th centuries, e.g. from Mari in Mesopotamia, refer to an island called Alasia that dealt with the production and export of copper. In Amarna/s correspondence dating from the 14th century B.C between the king of Alasia and the Pharaoh Akhenaten, reference is made to Alasia (i.e. Cyprus) that had to pay the Pharaoh a submission tax. The king of Alasia calls the Pharaoh his ‘brother’ and sends him many gifts, mainly ingots of copper.

Letter 7

“Brother, these men are my traders,
Send them back quickly
And do not allow the man you have placed at the head of your interests
Come in conflict with my own men and ships.”

“Brother, I have sent Souniti
Nine (ingots) of copper, two elephant horns
And a ship full of woodwork
But he did not give me anything…
And for thee five (ingots) of copper, three (ingots)
Of good copper
An elephant horn
A piece of wood and a ship filled with woodwork.
Do not forget brother
That this man and this ship
Belong to my king and master
And I would urge you to send
The ship of my master as quickly as possible.”


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