January 30, 2012 § Leave a Comment
Over the past month, I’ve been working to draw historical conclusions from the artifact distributions produced through the Pyla-Koutsopetria Archaeological Project. For antiquity this did not prove particularly challenging in that our site conformed in many ways to general patterns of expansion and contraction across the island. By the post-Classical period, however, my job have become a bit more complicated as the quantity of artifacts present at our site is depressingly small and the patterns of settlement across the island are less clearly established. Fortunately, our colleagues at the Sydney Cyprus Survey Project and the Troodos Archaeological and Environment Survey Project (TAESP) have begun to shape their relatively modest finds into some interesting analytical models that may help make some sense of our material. M. Given and M. Hadjianastasis published an article titled “Landholding and landscape in Ottoman Cyprus” last year in Byzantine and Modern Greek Studies 34 (2010), 38-60.
Ottoman material from Pyla-Koutsopetria microregion
In this article, the authors use Ottoman census records to reconstruct the population and arable land available to several villages in the TAESP survey area. Given and Hadjianastasis were able to reconstruct the local pattern of interdependence between villages that produced grain and other crops according to the suitability of the land. Better watered land of the plains tended to feature larger villages with more land per person suggesting grain cultivation. Villages situated in the dryer foothills of the Troodos tended to be not only small, but have less land per person suggesting that residents of these communities had to have land holdings on the plain which they cultivated seasonally and that they were likely more involved in cash cropping in the immediate vicinity of their own villages. The interdependence of these villages reflects that access to larger Ottoman economy as well as the likely demands of larger Ottoman landholders who sought to exploit cash crops in place of subsistence. A similar pattern has appeared in Greece where it is clear that by the Ottoman period an increasingly globalized economy rendered traditional definitions of subsistence inadequate for explaining the organization of Greek agriculture.
The relatively arid lands of the coastal plain and the thin soils of the coastal plateau at Pyla-Koutsopetria were probably best suited in antiquity as today for grain cultivation. We do know, however, that the marshy lands of the foreshore saw market gardens as recently as mid-20th century suggesting that some local freshwater was available to the area. Moreover, the rugged slopes of the coastal plateaus produced herbs which while never a substantial part of the local economy, do reflect patterns of land use that sought to exploit a wide range of environmental resources. The sparse scatter of Ottoman period material most likely indicates that no major settlement existed in the area. The small scatter of Ottoman period glazed wares on the northern edge of the Mavrospilos/Kazamas coastal plateau might represent a small seasonal settlement or even an isolated farmstead. The fields were probably cultivated by residents of Pyla village some 1.5 km to the north. By the early 19th century, it is clear that some local lands were owned by absentee landowners or stood as part of the endowments of religious officials. It seems likely, then, that the individuals who cultivated the land at Pyla-Koutsopetria were tenant farmers. The presence of a small fortification of Venetian (?) date near the foreshore perhaps suggests that the low-lying lands in the eastern part of the Pyla-Koutsopetria plain continued to serve as a small embayment as late as the Ottoman period. The very slight traces of a road that ran along the earlier coastal ridge hint that the coastline had a more pronounced curve in the 19th century than it does now perhaps providing some protection for coasting ships traveling along the littoral.
The most interesting part of Given and Hadjianastasis article was not the careful, if general, interpretation of ceramic evidence, village populations, and land use, but the discussion of the experiences associated with living in the diverse villages present in the Ottoman landscape. The call of the muezzin and the sound of church bells (or the more common wooden or metal tsimandro) served as aural limits to the religious landscape. The limited intervisibility of Ottoman period settlements provided another means of defining the extent of a village’s land and communicating a sense of community among individuals working the fields (even if these fields were owned by landlords).
The village of Pyla is not visible from our site of Pyla-Koutsopetria obscured by the imposing coastal plateau. It seems likely that the settlement at Pyla which dated at least since the geometric period became the center of habitation in the area as much because it was not visible from the coast as because it stood astride a major route north to the Mesaoria and east-west between Kition/Larnaka and Salamis. When coastal settlements became vulnerable to raiding after the decline of Roman hegemony in the Eastern Mediterranean in the mid-7th century, the settlement on the Pyla littoral declined rapidly. It is difficult to imagine that the relatively level lands of the coastal remained neglected long. The only evidence for habitation was a small scatter of material on the northern edge of the Mavrospilos/Kazamas plateau. It is worth noting that the southern limits of Pyla village would have been just barely visible from a seasonal shelter in this area and perhaps the fieldworkers could have heard the call to prayer or the church bells (or tsimandro) to orient their daily routines while in the fields.
View to northeast from the Mavrospilos/Kazamas Ridge
As a brief epilogue, it is remarkable that we have almost no photographs looking north from our site. We must have 1000+ photos of the Pyla-Koutsopetria landscape and 80% of these photographs take their orientation from the sea. This probably speaks as much to our preoccupation with the sea as our disinclination to look toward the politically troubled buffer zone between the British Sovereign Base Area, the U.N. Buffer Zone in which Pyla Village sits, and the Republic of Cyprus.
January 4, 2012 § Leave a Comment
Over the past few years I’ve played around with the idea of an indigenous archaeology in the Greek speaking Mediterranean. In doing so, I have identified certain practices as drawing on traditions found in hagiographic literature (saints’ lives). The most obvious example is the practice of inventio when a pious individual excavates a sacred object, usually an icon. I have written extensively on this blog about inventio and dreams (go here and scroll to the bottom of the post for a little gaggle of links; here’s an example of this from Cyprus).
There are also practices preserved in hagiography through which local communities mark out ruined buildings as special sites or sacred space. Saints’ lives frequently preserves stories that feature commemorative practices associated with long abandoned or ruined buildings. Often these practices are as simple as pilgrimages to ruined churches for prayers. In other cases, saints or pious communities rebuild ruined churches.
In Cyprus, we have seen how acts of piety have influenced the archaeology of Christian buildings (for example here and here). Recently I was re-reading part of P. Flourentzos, Excavations in the Kouris Valley II: The Basilica of Alassa. (Nicosia 1996), and re-discovered this passage (p. 3):
During my first visit to the area of Ay;a Mavri to conduct the rescue excavation, I noticedthat two stones in the form of an angle was visible it the north-western side of the area. Moreovera great concentration of loose stones had accumulated on the surface round a modern quadrangular structure with two holes at the front and a little iron door (PI. II: 2).
Inside the structure was an icon of Ayia Mavri (Saint Mavri), where the villagers often placed lighted candles as offerings. On the surface a small part of the apse of the Holy-of-Holies was also visible.
All those features attracted my interest and I decided to open the first trench at that particularpart of the area. This first trench, which I call Trench I, measured 2 X II m. and contained alarge part of the structure of the Holy-of-Holies and its eastern end yielded a small tomb.
So I was then sure that this was an area of a church probably of basilica type with a related cemetery.
This short passage presents a kind of indigenous archaeology of the sacred and shows how it intersects with modern archaeological practices.
December 14, 2011 § Leave a Comment
Two weeks ago I posted a passage from L. Hamilton Lang that described his struggles to export the antiquities that he looted from a small farm that he had leased near the village of Pyla. Lang’s friend and co-conspirator Luigi Palma di Cesnola also conducted some clandestine excavations at the site and describes them in his Cyprus: its ancient cities, tombs, and temples, A narrative of researches and excavations during ten years’ residence as American consul in that island (1877). He probably visited the site early in his term as American Consul on the island in 1865. He is widely regarded as a looter, and his collection of Cypriot antiquities forms the core of the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s collection of Cypriot antiquities.
I found it in the end more convenient and less expensive to purchase than to hire animals, and in this way I became the possessor of several fine well-broken mules and two strong donkeys, as high almost as horses, of a breed particular to Cyprus. These donkeys are glossy and sleek with large eyes, and will trot as fast as a mule; they are beside very intelligent. Thus provided we started in the early morning, and proceeded eastward for two hours, quite close to the seashore, to a place called “Palaeo Castro”, a name given by the natives to any tumble down building, whether fifty or two thousand years old. Here I found the stone walls of an oblong structure, not older than the Venetian occupation of the island. It had been a small fort mounted with three guns, the embrasures of which are still standing. Along the south-east coast are several of these guard-houses, built near the shore on elevated ground, some of which, now dismantled and roofless, are of Turkish construction, and two or three hundred years old. Most of them appear to have been erected for the protection of the neighboring villages against the Algerine pirates, who not longer ago than sixty years were daring enough to land and carry off wealthy inhabitants, and to detain them until the required ransom should be paid. In the neighbourhood is still pointed out the pirates’ cave. Contiguous to the fort I found vestiges of ancient town, traces of the stone wall which encircled it, and small square foundations of dwelling houses.
The cemetery is just outside the wall, and near the sea-shore. The tombs are only a few feet below the surface, and of the shape usual everywhere in Cyprus. Those I opened contained Roman lamps, glass, and black varnished pottery of a very common kind. A little east of the fort is a shapeless mound, apparently artificial, which I found to contain two large graves of the earliest period. From one of them I extracted fragments of twenty-seven different skulls, and a number of cylinders in haematite, not engraved; also a large copper caldron and in iron, but no vases of any kind. This mound seems to have been erected over some fifty or sixty bodies buried in two large oblong tombs, evidently all at the same time, and probably slain in battle. The earth which forms the mound be that which was dug up in making tombs.
Continuing my journey along the coast, I reach a spot where the road takes a northerly direction. Pursuing this, I soon came upon a small village called Ormidia, inhabited exclusively by Greek peasants. It was in a pretty little white cottage on teh summit of a low hill near the outskirts of this village that I established in 1873 my summer residence, and this continued to be our summer resort as long as we remained in the island.
These excavations must have come from very near our site. Older maps call Pyla-Koutsopetria Palaiocastro. We have documented the coastal battery there which is now overgrown and collapsing.
We have found significant quantities of ancient glass vessels in our survey. It’s difficult to identify the mound that he describes or the outlines of houses or fortifications, but we did find a fragment of a human skull during our survey. It may be that ploughing smeared the remains of the tombs across the area and leveled whatever was left of the mound after Cesnola’s excavations.
December 12, 2011 § 1 Comment
I just finished Charlie Hailey’s book called Camps. It’s an architectural study of camps and consists of examples of camps from around the world and through history. The study divides camps into three types: camps of autonomy, camps of control, and camps of necessity. Camps of autonomy are camps that are characterized by the goal of autonomy and independence (as the name might suggest!), whereas camps of control and necessity are opposite sides of the same coin. The former rely on the form of the camp to control its occupants or to project control into a potentially dangerous situation; the latter are camps that emerge as responses to circumstances beyond the occupants control (refugee situations, survival camps, et c.). The line between these two types of camp tends to blur.
I began to think about camps largely in the context of man or work camps in the western part of North Dakota. The camps typically consist of temporary trailers arranged very close to work sites (if not on the sites themselves). These temporary housing units were often brought from other places of temporary settlement like the Olympic village in Vancouver or in camps used to house people displaced from Hurricane Katrina. The trailers are a response to both the limited infrastructure existing in a peripheral area as well as the unwillingness to invest in substantial investment in an area by the companies that arrive looking to extract oil. These camps also reflect the global system not only for resource extraction, but also for managing temporary populations whether they are athletes, refugees from natural disasters, or groups looking to work in remote locations. The camps, their residents, and the natural resources that they work to extract combine to produce a low-investment, temporary pattern of settlement across the landscape.
These camps cross the various categories proposed by Hailey and represent spaces of control (particularly when they are provided by local employers), spaces of autonomy as they function on the fringes of local utilities (water cisterns are sometimes visible in aerial photographs), infrastructure, and community, and spaces of necessity as the work population in the Western part of the state settled in camps owing to the lack of existing infrastructure in the area. The autonomy and necessity of the camps overlap when they provide housing for groups of individuals who live and work on the periphery of infrastructure, social bonds, and the economic systems.
I also got to thinking about a camp that I published in the Corinthia. I argued that a fieldstone fortification on the height of Mt. Oneion along the south boundary of the Isthmus as a “fortified camp” that served the needs of military forces who sought to secure access to the Peloponnesus in the Hellenistic era. Like the work camps in North Dakota that fortified camp on Mt. Oneion was not designed for any enduring way – the roughly built field stone walls provided protection for structures that housed the forces encamped there – and these camps were also dependent on wide ranging geopolitical systems and events that were not necessarily under the control of the local population. Moreover, the location of the camps on Mt. Oneion is peripheral to settlement, cultivated ground, and political space.
Our site in Cyprus – Pyla-Vigla – is likewise a peripheral settlement and the habitation appears to have been quite short lived. We have suggested that the site was a base for local mercenaries. Like the fortified camp on Mt. Oneion, the fortification wall appears to have been the most substantial investment on the site. The domestic structures on the interior of the site show only modest architectural investment. Simple stone sockles would have supported mudbrick walls and the absence of rooftile suggests thatched roofs. The floors were packed earth. In one trench we observed the rapid reconstruction or modification of the building perhaps over the course of a decade or two. Like. Mt. Oneion, the site it removed from the centers of political power, situated at a natural border (on the sea and at the periphery of the territory of Kition), and immediate surroundings of the site offer little in the way of economic incentives.
Of course, our archaeological work on the site embraces some of the practices of camp. Our base of operations on site involve almost no investment in the site (plastic furniture, shade provided by vehicles, et c.). One of my favorite practices is that at the end of the season we backfill the trenches. We cover the collapsed walls with a blue tarpaulin (which we always call trapampoline) which echoes the ubiquitous “blue tarp” associated with provisional camps around the world. By backfilling the trenches we follow a different set of camping practices by “leaving no trace’. It not only preserves the archaeological remains, but also returns the space to the condition it was prior to our arrival. Hailey has some great descriptions of the methods used to restore the desert site of Burning Man festival at the conclusions of the event. They organizers walk transects across the site looking for trash. They also use gridded collection areas to sample other areas to ensure that the dried lake bed is spotless on their departure. The archaeological scrutiny employed by this group to preserve the natural beauty of the Burning Man site, provides a nice contrast to efforts by archaeologist to document the traces of human life in the landscape. Both practices represent efforts to view the landscape as radically separate from present human activities. This notion of people being alienated from the landscape is central to the mystic and allure the camp.
November 29, 2011 § Leave a Comment
One of the reasons that I started this blog is to share cool little things from my research for which I don’t really have another outlet (other than telling my wife and friends). So here are a few more little observations about the landscape around our site at Pyla-Koutsopetria.
I’ve spent the last few weeks, going back through some important articles on the antiquities of the Pyla region in Cyprus. Certainly the most important is O. Masson’s 1966 article, “Kypriaka” in the Bulletin de correspondence hellénique. A good part of this article was dedicated to locating and describing an assemblage of Cypro-Archaic to Cypro-Classical statues discovered at a sanctuary at a site called Pyla-Stavros. This is a site at the southern edge of the Pyla village and about 1.5 km from the coast.
It so happened that Sir Robert Hamilton Lang had acquired a farm in this general area and describes his efforts at running a small commercial farm in his short book, Cyprus: its history, its present resources, and future prospects (1878). Lang is famous not only for being an art collector (and looter) as well as being financier of some renown. Lang’s farm was “about 6 miles from Larnaca. It consists of about 1,000 acres of arable land, of which only sixty were what are called livadia lands, that is lands capable of producing summer crops without artificial irrigation.”
Masson plausibly suggests that Lang’s work on the farm led to his discovery of some antiquities there which he describes in a contribution to Blackwood’s Edinburgh Magazine.
Shortly after my first excavations at the temple at Dali I stumbled upon the remains of another temple, at Pyla, six miles from Larnaca. Most of its stones had been carried away for building purposes; but it yielded me a few most interesting statues, some choice heads, and a Cypriote inscription. One colossal statue of an archaic type was in beautiful preservation. I removed it to my house in Larnaca; but, as it was of great weight, and about eight feet high, I was in despair when I thought of the impossibility of my getting it out of the country. The Turkish Museum would have been enriched by it except for a fortunate incident. In June of 1871 the Austrian frigate Habsburg, carrying the flag of Admiral Millosich, anchored for a few days in the roadstead of Larnaca. The Admiral was an enthusiastic antiquarian, and we soon became close friends. He was greatly interested in my collection, and I expressed to him my regret that I had no hope of being able to get the colossal statue from the temple at Pyla out of the country. “Sell it to me,” he said, “and I shall try to take it away.” I was delighted, and would have given it to him willingly. As he insisted, however, upon purchasing it, we easily came to terms. After sundown he brought his pinnace to the quay opposite my house, with a lot of stalwart sailors, and a strong wooden couch with handle-bars. The couch was brought into my courtyard, which was only a few yards from the pier. The statue was placed upon the couch and covered over with a cloth. Noiselessly the sailors carried off their load, laid it in the boat, and pulled off. A custom-house watchman was standingat the head of the pier, but he did not move— thinking, probably, that underneath the oloth was a drunken sailor. Next morning the frigate left, carrying off my statue. I have not heard of it since; but I hope it is still an interesting object in the Admiral’s collection, somewhere near Trieste.
The temple at Pyla gave me also some fine heads of the best Greek epoch in sculpture. Some of them are now in the Cyprian room of the British Museum. Two beautiful female heads passed through a strange experience. About the beginning of 1870 I sent them to a German dealer in antiquities who resided in Paris. The FrancoGerman war broke out, and all Germans had to leave Paris, which was afterwards besieged. I heard nothing of Mr Hoffman nor of my heads. But when the war was over, I learned that Mr Hoffman had escaped to London, and, like a true lover of art, had taken myheads with him. Eventually they were sold in London by auction. The British Museum bought one of them for, if my memory servesme right, about £50; the other, and finer, was bid up to more than double that price, and fell to a Frenchman who, I was told at the time, bought it as a sculptor’s model.
The “colossal” statue from Pyla is now in the museum in Vienna. Masson goes on to track down the location of these objects in the British Museum, the Louvre and even through Lang’s friend L. Palma de Cesnola in the United States, and offer some observations on the character of the sanctuary. Several inscriptions suggest that it was dedicated to Apollo and prospered during the Archaic period as the colossal statue’s Archaic continence would indicate. A few later statue fragments suggest that the sanctuary remained active into the Hellenistic period.
It seems impossible that this sanctuary near Pyla village is the same as the sanctuary that we have suspect existed near the coast at Pyla-Vigla or Pyla-Koutsopetria. The two sanctuaries in relatively close proximity give us an interesting view of the religious landscape of the region of Pyla in the Iron Age. It seems almost certain that there were settlements at the site of Ormidhia, Pyla village, and along the coast near Pyla-Koutsopetria by the 7th century if not earlier.
Over the course of our fieldwork on Cyprus, my colleagues and I have often remarked on the “busy countryside” associated with the Late Antique period on the island. It might now be appropriate to discuss the busy countryside of the Cypriot Iron Age at least in our little corner of Cyprus.
November 28, 2011 § Leave a Comment
Over the past three weeks I’ve been working on pulling together the various threads of our fieldwork at the Pyla-Koutsopetria in Cyprus for a synthetic conclusion. This will be the final chapter of our survey volume and consider the site in the broader context of settlement, politics, and the economy of both Cyprus and the wider Mediterranean world.
We’ve already made substantial headway in analyzing our site for the Hellenistic to Late Roman period, but we’ve done less with the Cypriot Iron Age. I want to offer some of our initial reflections on this complex period here, albeit in a brief and tentative way.
The most interesting thing about our site is that there is a some evidence for activity as early as the Cypro-Geometric period which on Cyprus dates to from around 1050 BC to around 750 BC. Our scatter of material most likely dates to the latter half of this period. The small scatter of Geometric material appears on the coastal ridge and in a few units on the coastal plain.
Things really get interesting, however, in the Archaic period (750 BC to 475 BC). At this time, it is clear that activity on the site has increased in intensity and expanded in area.
Contemporary with this expansion there appeared a crazy looking statue of with the head of the god Bes and a Phoenician inscription: “this which Eshmounhillec, the sculpture, made for this lord, Rshef Sh[ed]“. The statue is now in the Louvre in Paris and dates to the 7th century.
This is probably enough evidence to suggest that we have a sanctuary at our site that perhaps emerged as early as the Geometric period and continued into the Archaic age. We have found some limestone votive-style figurines that may date to the end of the Classical period indicating that the site retained a religious function throughout the Iron Age.
The statue of Bes with the Phoenician inscription coincides with a period of increased Phoenician influence at the nearby urban center of Kition. In fact, the site of Kition sees consistent expansion during the Archaic period and some scholars have sought to link that to the arrival of Phoenician settlers. By the 6th century, we know that a Phoenician dynasty ruled the city of Kition and the power of the city and the continued to expand throughout the Iron Age.
In this context, then, the appearance of a statue with a Phoenician dedication probably indicates that our area – which stands about 10 km from the center of ancient Kition – saw some Phoenician immigrants. The presence of this kind of monument at our site and our site’s general expansion during the Cypro-Archaic period indicates a parallel between our site’s growth and the expansion of the city of Kition during the Archaic period.
Derek Counts has suggested that images of Bes (particularly in his guise as the Master of Animals) in the Iron Age may have had an apotropaic function and been seen as particularly appropriate for sanctuaries located at the boundaries between state. He shows sites where these images have appeared on the map below.
Our site is not traditionally seen as being located at the borders of the city of Kition. In fact, there is tremendous ambiguity concerning the limits of any Iron Age polity in the Archaic period. At the same time, it is clear that the location of our site represents on the last substantial embayments along the east side of Larnaka Bay. Moreover, most scholars think that the major ancient road to Salamis – the major Iron Age city to the east of Kition – would turn inland at our site and proceed to the northeast. The combination of a major road and a harbor endowed our site with some liminal qualities by the Iron Age and made it a suitable location for a statue of Bes and a sanctuary.
The presence of a Phoenician inscription and a substantial votive dedication at our site may hint that the growth of our site represented an effort of the expanding city of Kition to establish authority in this strategically useful micro-region by stamping their signature on an earlier sanctuary in the area.
November 23, 2011 § Leave a Comment
Sometime in the past couple of months a Special Edition of the Bolletino di Archeologia On Line appeared with a lightly edited copy of a paper we prepared for the International Congress of Classical Archaeology in 2008. The paper is titled “Trade and Exchange in the Eastern Mediterranean: A Model from Cyprus” and considers the relationship between trade and settlement on the island during Late Antiquity. In particular, we take aim on the lingering dichotomy between urban centers and a dependent countryside by showing how a non-urban and non-rural site like Pyla-Koutsopetria occupied a rather extensive stretch of the Late Roman coastline and possessed a distinctive assemblage of Late Roman material. The distinctive assemblage of ceramics is particularly important because it suggests that the site had a unique relationship with patterns of Mediterranean exchange.
The unique pattern of engaging larger networks of trade and exchange undermines the now dubious model of urban centers representing hubs of trade in the Roman world while outlying communities availed themselves to goods that moved through larger, regional centers. This model has justified scholarly attention to urban area which represented the centers not only of a region’s economic life, but also a region’s cultural life.
By showing that non-urban places like Pyla-Koutsopetria had distinct economic relationships with the wider Mediterranean world, we are justifying more recent attention in the countryside. In effect, we are noting that non-urban sites had as large a role in forging economic relationships and cultural production as urban ones.
October 27, 2011 § Leave a Comment
This is a pretty interesting conference being held this weekend at the University of Cyprus. Apparently, it will be the first in a trilogy of conferences designed “to shed more light on the ‘invisible’ eras or period of major transformations in economy, society, and culture after the end of Late Antiquity by (re)evaluating old and new archaeological data, namely dated to (a) the Byzantine Early Middle Ages, middle 7th-8th centuries, (b) the Middle to Late Byzantine or Early Frankish era, Late 12th – early 13th centuries, and (c) the Late Byzantine/Frankish to Early Ottoman period, middle 14th – late 15th centuries.”
The schedule of speakers looks pretty impressive (although a bit light on people doing active field research in Cyprus) with most of the usual suspects represented.
The poster is snazzy.
It’s always useful to notice the way in which these kinds of conferences organize sessions because they both capture the areas of specialty among the participants and the questions central to research in the field. Sessions on urban and rural space suggest, at least, that tradition ways of viewing ancient settlement with the conceptual divide between town and country continues to persist (although it is possible that the papers could critique the title of the session). The next session on “trade networks and the economy” suggests more fluid and integrated view of economic relationships that might offer a counterpoint to the seeming rigid city/countryside divide. The final session bring the term “material culture” to the conference and opens up the potential to consider how objects both embody and communicate cultural expectations. It remains to be seen how fully the participant embrace the complex concept of material culture or just use it as a synonym for architecture and small-finds.
The program is as follows:
Byzantium in Transition
Introductory Session: Setting the Scene
Islam and its relations with ByzantiumAlexander Beihammer (University of Cyprus)
Latin Christendom and its relations with Byzantium, c. 700-900 AD
Richard Hodges (University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology, USA)
keynote speaker (hospitality sponsored by the Cyprus Tourism Organisation)
Approaches to Early Medieval Byzantium
John Haldon (Princeton University, USA)
Session I: Urban and Rural Space
Urban and rural space: surface survey and its problematics
John Bintliff (University of Leiden, The Netherlands)
City and countryside in Greece
Guy Sanders (American School of Classical Studies at Athens, Greece)
Island and coastal landscapes in Greece and Cyprus
Timothy Gregory (Ohio State University, USA)
City and countryside in Asia Minor: Amorium as model or misfit?
Christopher Lightfoot (The Metropolitan Museum of Art, USA)
City and countryside in the western fringes
Paul Arthur (University of Salento, Italy)
Session II: Trade Networks and Economy
A ceramic koine as evidence for continuity and economy
Athanasios Vionis (University of Cyprus)
Amphorae and trade networks
Stella Demesticha (University of Cyprus)
Pottery in seventh-century Cyprus: ceramic economies in a Sea of change
Marcus Rautman (University of Missouri, USA)
Towards a new definition of Mission Creep: trade with the western peripheries
Pamela Armstrong (University of Oxford, Wolfson College, UK)
Coins, exchanges and the transformation of the Byzantine economy (7th-10th c.)
Cecile Morrisson (CNRS, France)
Session III: Artistic Testimonies and Material Culture
The culture of Iconoclasm
Leslie Brubaker (University of Birmingham, UK)
Church planning and sculpture in Late Antique Cyprus: their connections with the regional environment
Jean-Pierre Sodini (Universite de Paris- I, Sorbonne, France)
Early Christian basilicas: changes or continuities in post-Justinianic Cyprus?
Doria Nicolaou (Pontificio Istituto di Archeologia Cristiana, Italy)
The art of metalwork in Byzantium
Marlia Mango (University of Oxford, St John’s College, UK)
Early Medieval archaeological evidence from central Greece
Olga Karagiorgou (Academy of Athens, Greece)
Cross-posted to Corinthian Matters.
September 29, 2011 § Leave a Comment
Busy week! But I do have something new for my dedicated readers to peruse. This is a working draft of an essay that will appear in the exhibit volume associated with an upcoming show at the Princeton University Museum called City of Gold: The Archeology of Polis Chrysochous, Cyprus.
The essay is a nice summary of the Late Antique and Medieval remains at the city and a short synthetic section that places the site of Polis (called Arsinoe in our period) into the context of the island and the Mediterranean.
It’s rough around the edges still, but I actually had a blast working with Amy Papalexandrou and finding an accessible way to describe the site.
Check it out here:
September 20, 2011 § Leave a Comment
Over the past few weeks, I’ve been working with Amy Papalexandrou to write up a short essay for the an exhibit at the Princeton University Art Museum titled: City of Gold: The Archaeology of Polis Chrysochous, Cyprus.
Amy and I have been negotiating the introduction to our essay. For some reason, we have latched onto the idea of introducing our short essay with two inscriptions: one from the 3rd century BC and one from the 5th century (?) AD. We juxtapose these texts to open a conversation about continuity and change in civic identity over 7 centuries. In a poetic flourish (that may not make the final cut of the essay), I proposed adding a third text from a Greek ecclesiastical court of the (let’s say) 12th or 13th century. This text also captures some of the civic organization of the city. The bishop of Arsinoe, the president of the village, and a representative of Paphos (presumably the bishop there) all have representation in the ecclesiastical court that adjudicates on marriages.
The symmetry of three texts separated by 7 centuries each appealed to me, but it might not quite work on context.
In any event, here’s our draft intro:
The few, fragmentary texts that do survive provide only scant context for the once vibrant community in the Chrysochous valley, but they do offer us a place to begin our story.
A 3rd century BC statue base celebrated a gift from ‘The City of the Arsinoeans,’ and it is possible to hear the echoes of this text some seven centuries later in very different terms. Found at Polis tis Chrysochou in 1960 and displayed today in the Cyprus Museum in Nicosia, this modest limestone block captures an important moment in the history of the Late Antique city (fig. 1). Dated to the mid-fifth century CE, it records the presence, whether real and literal or spiritual and implied (or both), of two high officials who co-sponsored the construction of an important building at Arsinoe:
Ἒν ἔτι (sic) Λς τῆς ἀρχιε
ἐπί Φωτηνοῦ ἐπισκό(που) +
διά τῶν +
“In the 36th year when Sabinos was Archbishop, when Photinos was Bishop (this was erected) at their own expense.”
Some seven centuries later still, the bishop continues to represent the community in a legal document associated with the ecclesiastical court at Arsinoe. This is only surviving example of the records from a Greek ecclesiastical court in Cyprus. The main focus of the text is on the tangle of complex laws surrounding marriage and engagement. Periodically throughout the text a simple formula appears which establishes the “all loving and God-honored Bishop of Arsinoe, the president of the city, and the enorias of Paphos” as the presiding officials of the court.
These modest texts resonate with the more impressive material remains of the city itself. The texts confirm the central place of the Bishop among the leaders of the community, the persistent civic identity of Arsinoe, the influence of the church in almost all aspects of daily life, and the close ties of the city to other regional centers. These are themes that frame the impressive material remains of the Late Antique and Medieval city of Arsinoe and underscore the continued importance of this dynamic, monumental, Christian center in southwestern Cyprus.