Cyprus was not settled in the old stone age, which led to the survival of numerous dwarf forms, such as dwarf elephants (Elephas cypriotes) and pygmy hippos (Phanourios minutis) well into the Holocene. There are claims of an association of this fauna with artifacts of Epipalaeolithic foragers at Aetokremnos near Limassol on the southern coast of Cyprus. The first undisputed settlement occurred in the 9th (or perhaps 10th) millennium BC from the Levant. The first settlers were already agriculturalists (PPNB), but did not yet produce pottery (aceramic Neolithic). The dog, sheep, goats and possibly cattle and pigs were introduced, as well as numerous wild animals like foxes (Vulpes vulpes) and Persian fallow deer (Dama mesopotamica) that were previously unknown on the island. The PPNB settlers built round houses with floors made of terrazzo of burned lime (e.g. Kastros, Shillourokambos) and cultivated einkorn and emmer. Pigs, sheep, goat and cattle were kept, but remained behaviourally wild. Evidence of cattle (attested at Shillourokambos) is rare, and when they apparently died out in the course of the 8th millennium they were not introduced until the ceramic Neolithic.
In the 6th millennium BC, the aceramic Khirokitia culture was characterised by round houses, stone vessels and an economy based on sheep, goats and pigs. Cattle were unknown, and Persian fallow deer were hunted. It was followed by the ceramic Sotira phase. The Eneolithic is characterised by stone figurines with spread arms.
In the Bronze Age the first cities, like Enkomi, were built. Systematic copper mining began, and this resource was widely traded. The Cypriot syllabic script was first used in early phases of the late Bronze Age (LCIB) and continued in use for ca. 500 years into the to LC IIIB, maybe up to the second half of the eleventh century BC. Most scholars believe it was used for a native Cypriot language (Eteocypriot) that survived until the 4th century BC, but the actual proofs for this are scant, as the tablets still have not been completely deciphered.
The LCIIC (1300-1200 BC) was a time of local prosperity. Cities were rebuilt on a rectangular grid plan, like Enkomi, were the town gates now Gates correspond to the grid axes and numerous grand buildings front the street system or newly founded. Great official buildings constructed from Ashlar-masonry point to increased social hierarchisation and control. Some of these buildings contain facilities for processing and storing olive oil, like at Maroni-Vournes and building X at Kalavassos-Ayios Dhimitrios. A Sanctuary with a horned altar constructed from ashlar-masonry has been found at Myrtou-Pigadhes, other temples have been located at Enkomi, Kition and Kouklia (Palaepaphos). Both the regular layout of the cities and the new masonry techniques find their closest parallels in Syria, especially in Ras-Shamra (Ugarit). Rectangular corbelled tombs point to close contacts with Syria and Palestine as well. The practice of writing spread, and tablets in the Cypriote syllabic script have been found on the mainland as well (Ras Shamra). Ugaritic texts from Ras Shamra and Enkomi mention Ya, the Assyrian name of Cyprus, that thus seems to have been in use already in the late Bronze Age.
Oxhide-shaped copper ingots from shipwrecks like Ulu Burun, Iria and Cape Gelidonya attest to the widespread metal trade. Weights in the shape of animals found in Enkomi and Kalavassos follow the Syro-Palestinian, Mesopotamian, Hittite and Aegean standards and thus attest to the wide ranging trade as well.
Some authors believe that late Bronze Age Cyprus was a part of the Hittite empire under the name of Alasiya, but up to now, no written confirmation of this has been found, and Anatolian and Hittite finds from this period are extremely rare.
In the later phase of the late Bronze Age (LCIIIA, 1200-1100 BC) great amounts of 'Mycenean' IIIC:1b pottery were produced locally. New architectural features include cyclopean walls, found on the Greek mainland, as well and a certain type of rectangular stepped capitals, endemic on Cyprus. Chamber tombs are given up in favour of shaft graves. Many scholars therefore believed that Cyprus was settled by Mycenean Greeks by the end of the Bronze Age. But this view has increasingly been criticised in recent years, as there is no distinct break in most areas of material culture between the LCIIC (1400-1200 BC) and LCIII. Large amounts of IIIC:1b pottery are found in Palestine during this period as well. While this was formerly interpreted as evidence of an invasion ('Sea Peoples'), this is seen more and more as an indigenous development, triggered by increasing trade relations with Cyprus and Crete. Evidence of early trade with Crete is found in archaeological recovery on Cyprus of pottery from Cydonia, a powerful urban center of ancient Crete.
There are finds that show close connections to Egypt as well. In Hala Sultan Tekke Egyptian pottery has been found, among them wine jugs bearing the cartouche of Seti I and fish bones of the Nile perch.
Another wave of Greek settlement is believed to have taken place in the following century (LCIIIB, 1100-1050), indicated, among other things, by a new type of graves (long dromoi) and Mycenean influences in pottery decoration.
Most authors claim that the Cypriot city kingdoms, first described in written sources in the 8th century BC were already founded in the 11th century BC. Other scholars see a slow process of increasing social complexity between the 12th and the 8th centuries, based on a network of chiefdoms. In the 8th century (geometric period) the number of settlements increases sharply and monumental tombs, like the 'Royal' tombs of Salamis appear for the first time. This could be a better indication for the appearance of the Cypriot kingdoms.
The Iron Age follows the Submycenian period (1125-1050 BC) or Late Bronze Age and is divided into the:
Foundations myths documented by classical authors connect the foundation of numerous Cypriot towns with immigrant Greek heroes in the wake of the Trojan war. For example, Teucer, brother of Aias was supposed to have founded Salamis, and the Arcadian Agapenor of Tegea to have replaced the native ruler Kinyras and to have founded Paphos. Some scholars see this a memory of a Greek colonisation already in the 11th century. In the 11th century tomb 49 from Palaepaphos-Skales three bronze obeloi with inscriptions in Cypriot syllabic script have been found, one of which bears the name of Opheltas. This is first indication of the use of Greek language on the island.
Cremation as a burial rite is seen as a Greek introduction as well. The first cremation burial in Bronze vessels has been found at Kourion-Kaloriziki, tomb 40, dated to the first half of the 11th century (LCIIIB). The shaft grave contained two bronze rod tripod stands, the remains of a shield and a golden sceptre as well. Formerly seen as the Royal grave of first Argive founders of Kourion, it is now interpreted as the tomb of a native Cypriote or a Phoenician prince. The cloisonné enamelling of the sceptre head with the two falcons surmounting it has no parallels in the Aegean, but shows a strong Egyptian influence.
In the 8th century, several Phoenician colonies were founded, like Kart-Hadasht ('New Town'), present day Larnaca and Salamis. The oldest cemetery of Salamis has indeed produced children's burials in Canaanite jars, clear indication of Phoenician presence already in the LCIIIB 11th century. Similar jar burials have been found in cemeteries in Kourion-Kaloriziki and Palaepaphos-Skales near Kouklia. In Skales, many Levantine imports and Cypriote imitations of Levantine forms have been found and point to a Phoenician expansion even before the end of the 11th century.
Cyprus gained independence for some time around 669 but was conquered by Egypt under Amasis (570-526/525). The island was conquered by the Persians around 545 BC. A Persian palace has been excavated in the territory of Marion on the North coast near Soli. The inhabitants took part in the Ionian rising. At the beginning of the 4th century BC, Euagoras I, King of Salamis, took control of the whole island and tried to gain independence from Persia. Another uprising took place in 350 but was crushed by Artaxerxes in 344.
During the siege of Tyre, the Cypriot Kings went over to Alexander the Great. In 321 four Cypriot kings sided with Ptolemy I Soter and defend the island against Antigonos. Ptolemy lost Cyprus to Demetrios Poliorketes in 306 and 294 BC, but after that it remained under Ptolemaic rule till 58 BC. It was ruled by a governor from Egypt and sometimes formed a minor Ptolemaic kingdom during the power-struggles of the 2nd and 1st centuries. Strong commercial relationships with Athens and Alexandria, two of the most important commercial centres of antiquity, developed.
Full Hellenisation only took place under Ptolemaic rule. Phoenician and native Cypriot traits disappeared, together with the old Cypriot syllabic script. A number of cities were founded during this time, e.g. Arsinoe that was founded between old and new Paphos by Ptolemy II.
Cyprus became a Roman province in 58 BC, according to Strabo because Publius Clodius Pulcher held a grudge against Ptolemy and sent Marcus Cato to conquer the island after he had become tribune. Marc Anthony gave the island to Cleopatra VII of Egypt and her sister Arsinoe, but it became a Roman province again after his defeat at the Battle of Actium (31 BC) in 30 BC. Since 22 BC it was a senatorial province, after the reforms of Diocletian it was placed under the Consularis Oriens. The island suffered great losses during the Jewish rising of 115/116 AD. Several earthquakes led to the destruction of Salamis at the beginning of the 4th century, at the same time drought and famine hit the island.
Christianisation: The apostle Paul is reported to have converted the people of Cyprus to Christianity. The Levit Barnabas, a Cypriot, travels to Cyprus and Anatolia with Paul (Apg. 12, 13). During the 5th century AD, the church of Cyprus achieved its independence from the Patriarch of Antioch at the Council of Ephesus in 431.
When the Arabs invaded Cyprus in 688, the emperor Justinian II and the caliph Abd al-Malik reached an unprecedented agreement. For the next 300 years, Cyprus was ruled jointly by both the Arabs and the Byzantines as a condominium, despite the nearly constant warfare between the two parties on the mainland.
This period lasted until the year 965, when a resurgent Byzantium conquered the island. In 1185, the last Byzantine governor of Cyprus, Isaac Comnenus of Cyprus from a minor line of the Imperial house, rose in rebellion and attempted to seize the throne. His attempted coup was unsuccessful, but Comnenos was able to retain control of the island.
Byzantine actions against Comnenos failed because he enjoyed the support of William II of Sicily. The Emperor had an agreed with the sultan of Egypt to close Cypriot harbours to the Crusaders. Isaac Comnenos was displaced by Richard I Plantagenet in 1192 and kept prisoner till his death in 1194 or 1195.
In the 12th century A.D. the island became a target of the crusaders. Richard the Lionhearted landed in Limassol on the 1st of June 1191 in search of his sister and his bride Berengaria, whose ship had become separated from the fleet in a storm. Richard married Berengaria in Limassol on the 12th of May 1192. She was crowned as Queen of England by John Fitzluke, Bishop of Évreux. The crusader fleet continued to St. Jean d'Acre (Syria) on the 5th of June. The army of Richard the Lionhearted continued to occupy Cyprus and raised taxes. He sold the island to the Knights Templar, before they moved to Rhodes and finally to Malta. Soon after that, the Franks (Lusignans) occupied the island, establishing the Kingdom of Cyprus. The relationship between the Cypriots and the Franks was never harmonious. They declared Latin the official language, later replacing it with French; much later, Greek was recognised as a second official language. In 1196, the Latin Church was established, and the Orthodox Cypriot Church experienced a series of religious persecutions. Maronites settled on Cyprus during the crusades and still maintain some villages in the North.
In 1878, as the result of the Cyprus Convention, the United Kingdom took over the government of Cyprus as a protectorate from the Ottoman Empire. In 1914, at the beginning of World War I, Cyprus was annexed by the United Kingdom. In 1925, following the dissolution of the Ottoman Empire, Cyprus was made a Crown Colony. Between 1955-59 EOKA was created by Greek Cypriots and led by George Grivas to perform enosis (union of the island with Greece). However the EOKA campaign did not result union with Greece but rather an independent republic, The Republic of Cyprus, in 1960.
In 1960, Turkish Cypriots were only the 18% of the Cypriot population. However, the 1960 constitution carried important safeguards for the participation of Turkish Cypriots to the state affairs, like vice-president being Turkish Cypriot, 30% of parliament being Turkish Cypriot, etc. Archbishop Makarios would be the President and Dr Fazil Kucuk would become Vice President. One of the articles in the constitution was the creation of separate local municipalities so that Greek and Turkish Cypriots could manage their own municipalities in the big towns. This article of the constitution has never been implemented by the Republic and president Archbishop Makarios. Internal conflicts turned into full-fledged armed fighting between the two communities on the island which prompted United Nations to send peace keeping forces in 1964 (These forces are still in place today). Turkey invaded the island in 1974 and seized the northern third of the island, Turkish Cypriots in the south would travel north and Greek Cypriots in the north would move to the south. The de facto state of Northern Cyprus was proclaimed in 1975 under the name "Turkish Federated State of Northern Cyprus". The name was changed to its present form on 15 November 1983. The only country to formally recognise The "Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus" is Turkey. Turkey has repeatedly violated numerous UN Resolutions and refers to the Republic of Cyprus as the "Greek Cypriot Administration of Southern Cyprus".