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28 December 1989
7/1989
Definitive Issue

Definitive 1989 - Paphos Mosaics

Cyprus
Nea Paphos, modern Kato Paphos, lies on the Southwest coast of Cyprus. It was founded by Nicocles, king of Palaepaphos, towards the close of the 4th century B.C., and soon became one of the most important cities of the island. From the mid 2nd century B.C. to the 4th century A.D. it was capital of the island, and as such was the centre of political, economic and cultural life.

The systematic excavation of the city started about a quarter of a century ago, and although only a relatively small number of structures has come to light so far, it is clear that floor mosaics were a main feature of their decoration. These mosaics span the period from the late 4th century B.C to the 6th century. A.D, and amongst them those decorative three houses and a villa are of prime importance. The Houses of Orpheus and Dionysos date to the late 2nd - early 3rd century A.D. and the House of Aion to around the middle of the 4th century A.D. The nearby Villa of Theseus, the residence of the Roman Proconsul, started its life probably in the second half of the 2nd century A.D. It was added to, altered and redecorated several times up to the 5th century A.D and was later taken over by squatters.

The large number of mosaics found throughout the island leave little doubt that Cyrus was a major centre of this art. The style of these mosaics and the choice of subjects represented in them show that they belong to the East Mediterranean tradition. They do, however, form a distinct, recognizable group and they must have been made by local craftsmen.

Mosaics are made of small cubes of stone, known as tesserae, set in a bed of plaster. In Cyprus, the tesserae are made of local stone, but exceptionally, some imported marble is also employed. In more luxurious floors, and where more unusual, strong colours, such as some shades of blue, green, orange, etc were needed, the tedderae were made of glass paste. Most mosaic floors are decorated with geometric patterns. Cyprus moreover has a rich array of floors decorated with figured mosaics, illustrating, amongst other things, episodes from Greek mythology. The richest collection of these is found amongst the mosaics of Paphos.

Text: Dr. D. Michaelides, Archaeological Officer.
Source: Department of Postal Services, Republic of Cyprus.

Winter  

Winter

:

Detail from the mosaic of the Four Seasons. House of Dionysos, 3rd century A.D.

Personification of the island of Crete  

Personification of the island of Crete

:

From the mosaic of the villa of Theseus, 4th century A.D.

Centaur and Maenad  

Centaur and Maenad

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Detail from the mosaic of the Dionysiac Procession. House of Aion. 4th cent A.D.

Poseidon and Anymore  

Poseidon and Anymore

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House of Dionysos, 3rd century A.D.

Leda  

Leda

:

Detail from the mosaic of Leda and the Swan. House of Aion. 4th century A.D.

Apollo  

Apollo

:

Detail from the mosaic of Apollo and Marsyas. House of Aion. 4th century A.D.

Hermes presenting baby Dionysos  

Hermes presenting baby Dionysos

:

Detail from the panel depicting Hermes presenting baby Dionysos. House of Aion. 4th century A.D.

Cassiopeia  

Cassiopeia

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Detail from the mosaic representing the beauty contest between Cassiopeia and the nereids. House of Aion. 4th century A.D.

Divine poet and musician singing and playing the lyre  

Divine poet and musician singing and playing the lyre

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Detail from the House of Orpheus depicting the divine poet and musician singing and playing the lyre. 3rd century A.D.

Nymphs  

Nymphs

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Detail from the mosaic where Hermes is presenting Dionysos to the Nymphs. House of Aion. 4th century A.D.

Armed Amazon  

Armed Amazon

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Detail depicting an armed Amazon. House of Orpheus. 3rd century A.D.

Doris  

Doris

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One of the losers of the beauty contest won by Cassiopeia. House of Aion. 4th century A.D.

Hercules and the Lion  

Hercules and the Lion

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House of Orpheus. 3rd century A.D.

Apollo and Daphne  

Apollo and Daphne

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House of Dionysos. 3rd century A.D.

Cupid  

Cupid

:

Detail from a hunting scene. Villa of Theseus. 5th century A.D.

Official First Day Covers

Official FDC Definitive 1989 - Paphos MosaicsOfficial FDC Definitive 1989 - Paphos MosaicsOfficial FDC Definitive 1989 - Paphos MosaicsOfficial FDC Definitive 1989 - Paphos Mosaics

Technical Information

Designer: Michaelides
Quantities:
c2: 2000000
c20: 1000000
c5: 4000000
c50: 1000000
£3: 800000
c15: 6000000
c3: 2000000
c25: 1000000
c7: 5000000
c1: 2000000
c18: 4000000
c4: 1000000
c40: 2000000
£1: 1000000
c10: 1000000
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