Posted on | May 16, 2012 | 3 Comments
From May 22 to June 1 Sylvia and I will be on a trip to Cyprus, the third-largest Mediterranean island, situated in the corner between Turkey and Syria. Like most other such islands, it is filled with ancient ruins from the Neolithic age to the present. In ancient times it was famed for its copper mines, linking the island’s name forever with the metal. My maternal grandfather, Charles F. Jackson, went to Cyrpus as a mining engineer in the years 1923-25, working with the Cyprus Mines Corporation, formed in 1914 by Godfrey Gunther and mining engineer Seely Mudd, two American mining engineers, to reopen the Roman copper mines at Skouriotissa. The name Skouriotissa means, in Greek, “our lady of the slag (heaps).” His family, including my mother, accompanied him for this time and lived at an old monastery or mission compound nearby. The first picture has my mother, age 9, standing in front of an old Greek church in the monastery courtyard. The second picture is of my grandfather, Charles Jackson, standing in the entrance to the building they called home.
We are taking along a set of pictures like these two taken by my grandparents while they were living there to see if we can find any contemporary views, especially of the monastery. The mine, once a shaft mine, is now an open-pit mine. Like its predecessor, it too creates sizable environmental problems in the nearby farming areas.
The mine complex is located just on the Greek side of the “green line,” the boundary set up by the UN to bring an armistice to the warfare that erupted in the early 1970s when Turkish forces invaded the island to protect the Turkish-speaking population from possible eviction or destruction by the Greek-speaking population, which had led in the independence movement from Great Britain. While Cyprus is an independent republic, it still exists with an “occupied territory” comprising about a third of the island. One of the things I want to do is visit the “House of Cooperation,” in Nicosia, an NGO that is seeking to help heal the divisions that have become a near-permanent state of affairs in the country.
In addition, we will be poking around some of the old Greek, Roman, and Crusader ruins, including the legendary birthplace of Aphrodite, the patron goddess of Cyprus. And then, of course, there are the beaches, the food, and the people in their great variety. I’ll try to blog a little from there, but you may not hear from me until early June.