In the beginning of the session the presenter talked about the history of Cyprus and its cultural facts
In the beginning of the session the presenter talked about the history of Cyprus and its cultural facts. The history of Cyprus in Late Antiquity and the Early Middle Ages was marked by changes of authority that came along with the respective conquests of the island. Yet, one constant component of social life was Christianity, which, according to the Acts of the Apostles, started to spread in this region as early as the 1st century. In addition to written accounts which were composed for the veneration of the saints or the foundation of new dioceses, information about the religious life on Cyprus during the period of Late Antiquity and the Early Middle Ages is provided by the archeological evidence of churches themselves and by their furnishings. Apart from the creation of ecclesiastical structures within the expanding cities of the 5th and 6th century, some places of veneration have been specifically extended in order to attract larger numbers of pilgrims. Thus, this era’s monumental church buildings conceptualized sacred places not only architecturally, but also created their sacral character with regard to the effect on the contemporary observer. The socio-historical and political contexts and functions of the orientation towards the Holy as it appears in the sources need to be examined as far as possible. For instance, the discovery of the Apostle Barnabas’ relics and their architectural establishment as a pilgrim destination in the 5th century, a period of ecclesiastical debates, successfully supported the endeavors of achieving more autonomy from the church. Most notably, the temporary conquest of Cyprus by the Muslims in the 7th century leads to an intensified dispute of the religions and to a deliberate self-positioning of the Christian population. After the island has been tentatively reconquered by the Byzantine Empire in the 10th century, the Emperor’s intensified intervention on ecclesiastical structures can be observed on a political level. With regard to the material culture, traditional ideas were deliberately taken up; ruined sacred buildings have been refurbished or reconstructed to some extent at the same location. However, new places of veneration have been conceptualized architecturally as well.
On the basis of selected examples, key periods of Cyprus’ ecclesiastical history before the crusades will be given attention, while the focus will be on the question of the significance of Christianity and its material manifestation in the region. The interdisciplinary approach was chosen in order to relate written and archeological sources adequately to each other.