Searching for the Lost City of Copper

Rich in copper, skilled in bronzework, Cyprus was courted as a trading partner all over the ancient world. So why did it take so long for archaeologists to discover one of its greatest cities?

“To the King of Egypt, my brother. Thus says the King of Alashiya, your brother: ... Send your messenger along with my messenger quickly and all the copper that you desire I will send you.”

Dating to 1375 B.C., these words are from the collection of tablets known as the Amarna Correspondence, a cache of diplomatic exchanges discovered in the late 19th century. Historians identify the king of Egypt as Akhenaten, but who was writing to him? And where was Alashiya?

Many historians feel that the most likely candidate for copper-rich Alashiya is in Cyprus. But the story of identifying the lost city near the modern-day Cypriot village of Enkomi is filled with archaeological blunders and near misses.

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