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Following the death in 1473 of James II, the last Lusignan king, the Republic of Venice assumed control of the island, while the late king's Venetian widow, Queen Catherine Cornaro, reigned as figurehead.Venice formally annexed the Kingdom of Cyprus in 1489, following the abdication of Catherine.The Venetians fortified Nicosia by building the Walls of Nicosia, and used it as an important commercial hub.Throughout Venetian rule, the Ottoman Empire frequently raided Cyprus.The earliest known human activity on the island dates to around the 10th millennium BC.Archaeological remains from this period include the well-preserved Neolithic village of Khirokitia, and Cyprus is home to some of the oldest wells in the world.In 58 BC Cyprus was acquired by the Roman Republic.When the Roman Empire was divided into Eastern and Western parts in 395, Cyprus became part of the East Roman, or Byzantine Empire, and would remain so until the Crusades some 800 years later.

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This status ensured that the Church of Cyprus was in a position to end the constant encroachments of the Roman Catholic Church.A major wave of Greek settlement is believed to have taken place following the Bronze Age collapse of Mycenaean Greece from 1100 to 1050 BC, with the island's predominantly Greek character dating from this period.The Cypriots, led by Onesilus, king of Salamis, joined their fellow Greeks in the Ionian cities during the unsuccessful Ionian Revolt in 499 BC against the Achaemenid Empire.As soon as the Greek War of Independence broke out in 1821, several Greek Cypriots left for Greece to join the Greek forces.In response, the Ottoman governor of Cyprus arrested and executed 486 prominent Greek Cypriots, including the Archbishop of Cyprus, Kyprianos, and four other bishops.

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