The Idalion Bronze Tablet
The Idalion Bronze Tablet is the most important example of Cypriot syllabic script. It was discovered on the western acropolis of ancient Idalion in 1850, by a farmer from the village of Dali. The Tablet later became part of the private collection og the consul of France duc de Luynes who, in 1862 donated it to the National Library of France. The Idalion Bronze Tablet provides important information regarding the political system and the socio-economic conditions that prevailed during the war between Idalion and the Phoenicians of Kition. The Tbalet bears a Cypro-syllabic inscription on both sides. The extensive text is written in the Greek language and it refers to the agreement reached between king Stasikypros and the xitizens of Idalion on one hand and doctor Onasilos, son of Onasikypros and his brothers on the other. The doxtor agreed to treat those injured during the war that took place between the years 478 and 470 B.C., when the Persians and the Phoenicians of Kition attempted to conquer Idalion. The King and the city agreed to offer Onasilos and his brothers a silver ingot or plots of land that would be exempt from taxation.
The Tablet with the inscribed agreement was deposited in the Temple of Athena, situated on the acropolis of the kingdom’s capital. The fact that the decision was taken jointly, by the king and the citizens, demonstrates the influence of Greek democratic ideals on the political system of the kingdom. Furthermore, the care and concern felt by the ”city-state” authorities towards those injured at war, provides evidence for the existence of the most ancient system of social welfare known so far. The inscription also indicates that the king was the largest landowner, since he offered the doctor land which belonged to him. The text also implies that the boundaries of the plots of land were well defined and recognized by the authorities, meaning that an equivalent of today’s land registry system must have existed. In addition, the inscription informs us that the priestess of Athena was amongst the land owners, reinforcing the theory that religion played an important role in the control of production. The content of the Tablet is of exceptional importance for the history of the Cypriot kingdoms.