The Basilica of Soli has been an important early Christian site from the beginning, for it is the only location on the island where a catacomb has been revealed at the lowest level of the foundations. A coin found at Basilica A dates the church to the 4th Century. There were four churches built over one another by the 8th Century.
The earlier Basilica A was filled in, leveled, and covered in order to expand Basilica B. Archaeologists have had to painstakingly separate Basilica A from Basilica B, carefully marking layers of mosaics when doing so.
Here we see the Apse of Soli Basilica with three of the four church construction layers marked
Basilica B included an atrium and baptismal pool which shows that the community of Christians was growing in the 5th century.
According to Orthodox tradition St. Mark baptized Auxibius in Soli. The basilica was consecrated Ayios Auxibius for this reason. There is no mention of this event in Acts of the Apostles, but Acts of Barnabas indicates that the path taken by Barnabas and Mark from the north coast of Cyprus to Lambadistis, went by the port of Soloi.
The animal and geometric mosaics on the floor also date the earliest ruins to the 4th century. One has an inscription: “Jesus! Protect those who built these mosaics”. By careful examination of the layers of mosaics, the archaeologists realized that there is an ever older layer than ones attributed to Basilicas A and B.
It seems that mosaics were out of fashion by the 6th century because they were covered by tiles placed in unifying decorative patterns. In 2007, some of the mosaics around the atrium were recovered and stabilized. The pattern was alternate octagons with various animals at the center.
The great copper mines of the area were closed in the 4th century and the harbor was filled in to prevent ships from entering. Excavations show that the classical city had temples to Isis, Aphrodite, and Serapis. The famous statue of Aphrodite that is unique to the island, and used in much advertising, was found at Soloi and is now in the National Museum in Nicosia.
Lovely mosaics have been excavated at each level. There are animals and birds, vines and grapes, and geometric shapes. There is even an inscription which says: “Jesus! Protect those who built these mosaics.“