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History of Cypriot toponyms at UK National Archives lecture

“An unintentional colonial gift: Herbert Horatio Kitchener and Cyprus: the antiquity of the toponymic history of Cyprus” was the subject of a lecture organised on Thursday in London by the Bank of Cyprus Cultural Foundation in collaboration with the National Archives of the UK and the Cyprus High Commission in the UK.

In her lecture, Dr. Maria Iacovou, Professor of Prehistoric and Protohistoric Archaeology in the Department of History and Archaeology of the University of Cyprus, presented important information regarding H.H. Kitchener and his work. Dr. Iacovou explained that “the young lieutenant of the Corps of Royal Engineers arrived in the newly acquired British colony in 1878 to conduct quick and rough survey for revenue needs, or at least this is what Sir Garnet Wolseley, the first High Commissioner, had in mind”.

“Instead, working against all odds and certainly against the HC’s wishes, Kitchener produced an unsurpassed and quite unexpected geospatial and cultural record of the island’s” as Dr. Iacovou went on to say.

According to the Professor of Prehistoric and Protohistoric Archaeology, “The correct geographical coordinates of each place name are as significant as the effort invested in recording the indigenous toponyms of every micro-region, whether of Greek, Italian, French or Ottoman linguistic provenance.” Dr. Iacovou concluded that “The antiquity of the toponymic history of Cyprus was not only respected and preserved by this zealous colonial servant; it was also made into an official cartographic record, in use to this day, which acknowledges the historical depth of the island’s landscape.”

During the event an exhibition of maps and archive material from the UK National Archives collection related to H.H. Kitchener and maps of Cyprus were also presented, as well as interactive digital implementation of the Kitchener map which was created by the Sylvia Ioannou Foundation Partnership with the Harokopio University of Athens.

The lecture was presented by the High Commissioner of the Republic of Cyprus Andreas S. Kakouris and Dr. Ioanna Hadjikosti, Director of the Bank of Cyprus Cultural Foundation.

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