Entrance to Salamis, Cyprus
Salamis is an ancient Greek city-state on the east coast of Cyprus, at the mouth of the river Pedieos, 3.7 miles north of modern Famagusta. According to tradition the founder of Salamis was Teucer, son of Telamon, who could not return home after the Trojan war because he had failed to avenge his brother Ajax. The earliest archaeological evidence dates to the 11th century BC.
In 450 BC, Salamis was the site of a simultaneous land and sea battle between Athens and the Persians. (This is not to be confused with the earlier Battle of Salamis in 480 BC between the Greeks and the Persians at Salamis in Attica).
The history of Salamis during the early Archaic and Classical periods is reflected in the narrations of the Greek historian Herodotus and the much later speeches of the Greek orator Isocrates. The city was then the capital of the island and led the other Cypriot cities in their efforts to liberate themselves from Persian rule. The most important ruler of the kingdom of Salamis was EvagorasI (410–374 BC), who became ruler of the whole island, and won its independence from the Persian Empire. Salamis was afterwards besieged and conquered by Artaxerxes III. Under King Evagoras (411-374 BC), Greek culture and art flourished in the city. After Alexander the Great conquered the Persian Empire, Ptolemy I (c. 367-283 BC) of Egypt ruled the island of Cyprus.
In Roman times, Salamis was part of the Roman province of Cilicia. The seat of the governor was relocated to Paphos. The town suffered heavily during the Jewish rising of AD 116–117. Although Salamis ceased to be the capital of Cyprus from the Hellenistic period onwards when it was replaced by Paphos, its wealth and importance did not diminish. The city was particularly favored by the Roman emperors Trajan and Hadrian, who restored and established its public buildings.
Several earthquakes led to the destruction of Salamis at the beginning of the 4th century. The town was rebuilt under the name of Constantia by Constantius II (337–361) and became an Episcopal seat, the most famous occupant of which was Saint Epiphanius. Emperor Constantius II helped the Salaminians not only for the reconstruction of their city but also he helped them by relieving them from paying taxes for a short period and thus the new city, rebuilt on a smaller scale, was named Constantia. The silting of the harbour led to a gradual decline of the town. Salamis was finally abandoned during the Arab invasions of the 7th century after destructions by Muawiyah I. The inhabitants moved to Arsinoë (Famagusta).