The Tombs of the Kings is a large necropolis lying about two kilometres north-west of Paphos harbour in Cyprus. It is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The underground tombs, many of which date back to the 4th century BCE, are carved out of solid rock, and are thought to have been the burial sites of Paphitic aristocrats and high officials up to the third century CE (the name comes from the magnificence of the tombs; no kings were in fact buried here). Some of the tombs feature Doric columns and frescoed walls. Archaeological excavations are still being carried out at the site. The tombs are cut into the native rock, and at times imitated the houses of the living. Although the tombs have been known and casually explored for centuries, they were first subjected to systematic excavation in the later 1970s and the 1980s under the direction of Dr Sophocles Hadjisavvas, now Director of Antiquities of the Republic of Cyprus. Dr Hadjisavvas has turned over to research students of the University of Sydney the preparations of the finds for publication. Part of the importance of the tombs lies in the Paphian habit of including Rhodian amphorae among the offerings in a burial. Through the manufacturing stamps placed on the handles of these amphorae, it is possible to give them a date and, through them, the other material from the same burial.
The Tombs of the Kings are an early necropolis in Paphos dating from 300 BC. The burial niches were looted of all artifacts long ago, but a powerful sense of stillness and mystery remains. The name of the site is misleading—there's no evidence of any royalty buried here. Rather, the site was the final resting place of about 100 Ptolemaic aristocrats who lived and died in Paphos beginning in the 3rd century BC. Early antiquarians dubbed the site the "Tombs of the Kings" due to the impressiveness of the tombs, and the name has stuck.The catacombs were later used by early Christians, and one of the tombs was turned into a chapel. In the Middle Ages, some tombs were used as makeshift dwellings or as workplaces—pottery was made in tomb 3. The site was systematically looted of artifacts long before excavations began in 1977. Investigations continue today under the Cyprus Department of Antiquities. My friend Merja sent me this intriguing card.