Book of the month

21 Dec 2023

Cyprus: From earliest times to the present day, Franz Georg Maier, Elek Books Limited, 1968.

Cyprus: From earliest times to the present day, Franz Georg Maier, Elek Books Limited, 1968.

Prima et maxima Orientis Cyprus insula

Franz Georg Maier (1926-2014), a distinguished German archaeologist, left a lasting mark on the study of Cypriot history and antiquities. Born in Stuttgart, Maier's academic journey unfolded as he pursued studies in history, archaeology, classical philology, and Germanic language and civilization at the universities of Tübingen, Zurich, and Rome between 1945 and 1952.

His profound connection with Cyprus began during his involvement in the British expedition of Kouklia from 1952 to 1955, sparking a lasting fascination with the island's rich history. In “Cyprus: From earliest times to the present day,” his comprehensive work is reflected through his thorough examination of Cyprus's evolution. He navigated through archaeological treasures, cultural transitions, and political upheavals that have contributed to the book's status as an invaluable reference on the multifaceted history of Cyprus.

“In Cyprus, even more than elsewhere, history is inseparable from land and landscape; the very soil of the island is steeped in historic memory.”

One of the strengths of Maier's work lies in its accessibility. Despite the complexity of the historical material, Maier succeeds in presenting it in a manner that engages both scholars and general readers. The book serves as a gateway for those seeking a deeper understanding of Cyprus, providing insights into the island's historical significance and its enduring cultural contributions. The portrayal of Cyprus extends beyond a mere chronological account; it becomes a narrative that captures the spirit and resilience of the Cypriot people.

From ancient civilizations to the challenges of recent history, readers are offered a panoramic view that goes beyond dates and events, providing a holistic understanding of Cyprus and its enduring identity.

“Tombs, temples and palaces of classical antiquity, churches, monasteries and icons of the Byzantine period, castles and Gothic cathedrals of the Frankish Levantine High Middle Ages, Venetian fortresses, Turkish khans and mosques, speak of an almost uniquely varied destiny.”

In conclusion, the closing remarks of Franz Georg Maier's “The future of Cyprus depends on the joint effort of all Cypriots, Greeks and Turks, to overcome the burden of the past if, against all expectation, hatred and blind nationalism are not to prevail”, underscore a poignant reality. The future of Cyprus relies on the collective efforts of its people. Maier, writing with a perspective grounded in historical understanding, highlights the illusory nature of certain hopes for the island's future.

Cyprus: From earliest times to the present day stands out as an inclusive and easily accessible resource, appealing to those with a keen interest in gaining a subtle understanding of Cyprus's historical journey. Maier's combination of scrupulous research and an engaging narrative style transforms this book into a cherished resource for enthusiasts of history, culture, and the captivating story of Cyprus.

You can find this book, and many more, in the Research Centre of the CVAR.

The 'Book Of The Month' series is made possible with the support of OPAP (Cyprus).

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