Siege of Paphos, c.497 BC

The siege of Paphos (c.497) was part of the Persian reconquest of Cyprus after the defeat of the Cyprian rebels at Salamis.

The Greeks of Cyprus joined the Ionian Revolt in 498, possibly in the aftermath of the Ionian raid on Sardis. They were led by Onesilus of Salamis, and were offered naval assistance by the Ionians. The Persians responded by sending a major army and fleet to Cyprus. The two sides clashed at the land and naval battle of Salamis (c.497), which saw the Ionians victorious at sea, but the Cyprians defeated on land. Onesilus was killed, and the remaining Greek cities left were quickly placed under siege.

The attack on Paphos isn't mentioned directly by Herodotus, but the town has been investigated by archaeologists, and the Persian siege works have been discovered. The city was defended by a stone-faced mud-brick wall, protected by a newly constructed U-shaped ditch.

The Persians built a siege ramp in an area between two towers. The workers on the ramp were protected by archers, some of whom were located on siege towers. The defenders dug four tunnels under the walls, some to undermine the mound and some against the siege towers. Well aimed Persian arrow heads have been found in several clusters, while the defender's missile weapons are scattered across the ramp area. The ramp eventually reached the wall, where a scattering of slingshots suggest the defenders made a last stand before being overwhelmed.

How to cite this article: Rickard, J (3 April 2015), Siege of Paphos, c.497 BC ,

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