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Arab Raids


The Arab raids and the destruction of Salamis

The Transfer of 691

The Arab raids that started in the middle of the 7th century brought about the destruction of Constantia and the permanent abandonment and resettlement of Arsinoe southwards. By then, the Arabs had gained complete command of the Eastern Mediterranean and the position of Cyprus in the Levant made it impossible for the island to escape attention in time of war. During the siege of Cyprus by the Arab leader Moawiya in 649, a treaty was signed between the Arabs and Byzantines whereby Cyprus was proclaimed neutral. However, soon enough the Arabs found a convenient opportunity to secure the island wholly to themselves. As a result of this development, in 691, the Emperor Justinian II imposed the transfer of the Archbishop Kypros Ioannis and his people from Constantia to Hellespont in Asia Minor, in a city that was named Nova Justianoupolis. Justinian had selected the people of Constantia as they were known for their craftsmanship in marine construction and was sure that with their transfer they would be able to protect the capital from Arab incursions.

The Arab raids lasted until 965, date at which Nicephorous Phocas put a definite end to them. By then, Salamis-Cosntantia had been completely abandoned and the Episcopal See was transferred to Salamis’ successor – Famagusta. The resilience of this eastern part of Cyprus did not permit oblivion or decline: Famagusta was established a few miles to the south which was destined to live anew some of the glories of its predecessor during the mediaeval period.


Opus Sectile from the basilica of Campanopetra in Salamis


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