WORKING DRAFT – DO NOT CITE WITHOUT AUTHORS’ PERMISSION

Arsinoe in Late Antiquity and the Middle Ages
William Caraher and Amy Papalexandrou1 The post-Classical landscape of Arsinoe is best approached through its material remains. These document a vibrant settlement, one significantly altered through time, political upheavals and an infusion of Christianity but which retained its sense of organization, community, and civic identity. Echoes of ‘the city of the Arsinoeans,’ as recorded in an inscribed statue base of the third century BCE (Najbjerg, this volume), can still be detected in a very different inscription dated some seven centuries later.2 Found at Polis tis Khrysochou in 1960 and displayed today in the Cyprus Museum in Nicosia, this later text was inscribed on a modest limestone block and 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 ρωσύνης Σαβίνου 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.”3 Some seven centuries later still, a different bishop continued to represent the community, this time in a legal document associated with the fourteenth-century ecclesiastical court at Arsinoe. It is the single, surviving example of official records from any Greek ecclesiastical court in Cyprus. Its focus is mundane – the tangle of complex laws surrounding marriage and engagement – but it points up the continued efforts to

 

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WORKING DRAFT – DO NOT CITE WITHOUT AUTHORS’ PERMISSION order and mediate the affairs of the local people of Arsinoe. Periodically throughout these texts, a simple formula appears: “Γινωσκέτωσαν πάντες οἱ τὴν παροῦκσαν πληρεστάτην ἀπόφασιν ἀναλαβόντες καὶ ἀκο}ύσαντες ὅτι ἡµεις δεῖνα ἐλέω θεοῦ ἐπίσκοπος Ἀρσενόης, πρόεδρος πόλεως καὶ ἐνορίας Πάφου...” “May it be known to everyone who was involved and heard the present and fullest discussion, that we, X, by the blessing of God (as) Bishop of Arsinoe, president of the city and parish of Paphos….”4 These modest texts resonate with the more impressive material remains of the city itself. They confirm the central place of the bishop among the leaders of the community, the survival of the name Arsinoe well into the later Middle Ages, 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 Christian center in northwestern Cyprus. Returning to the fifth-century inscription, the dedication of a Christian building may in fact refer to one of two substantial early Christian basilicas that have been recovered through excavations in the northern periphery of the modern town of Polis. It may also refer to an earlier predecessor of one of these churches, a different church, or another significant building in the community, as by Late Antiquity bishops played an important role in civic patronage of secular as well as sacred structures. The religious landscape of Arsinoe certainly shows the wealth or perhaps diversity of the Christian community, for several churches and chapels certainly shared space within and around

 

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WORKING DRAFT – DO NOT CITE WITHOUT AUTHORS’ PERMISSION the city.5 Although the inscription does not reveal the identity of a particular monument, it offers information specific to the time it was cut, including the name of the local bishop, one Photinos (otherwise unattested), the name of his superior, the Archbishop Sabinos, and the fact of their involvement on the ground and in the workings of Arsinoe. The inscription also reflects Christianization of patronage and conceptions of time in the city. The prominent placement of the names of bishops elevated the local, ecclesiastical hierarchy to the rank of eponymous leaders of the community. As a result, the passage of years and changing names of church officials presented time with a distinctly Christian cast.6 Meanwhile, the act of patronage and its inscription represented these bishops in the traditional role of the local elite, and perhaps also a general tendency at this time to over-endow the island with bishoprics so that even smaller towns joined in the new network of authority.7 In any case, the inscriptions complement the archaeological record in showing that these oft-repaired and modified buildings stood as a testimony to the community's enduring commitment to its monuments as the center of social and religious life. The buildings, their patrons, and the dynamic relationship between the community and their built environment mark the gradual transformation from the ancient to the Medieval and, indeed, to the modern village. The post-classical buildings recovered by the Princeton team define the actual urban space of the Late Antique city. Three excavated sites, all located within 200 meters of each other along the village’s main road north to the sea, provide evidence for a thriving population. The site nearest the center of the modern town, known as area EF2, includes at its heart a modest, three-aisled basilica (23 m x 12 ½ m) embedded in a builtup and well-serviced Ancient and Medieval neighborhood (Najbjerg essay, fig. 8).

 

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WORKING DRAFT – DO NOT CITE WITHOUT AUTHORS’ PERMISSION Excavations around the church have revealed workshops or domestic establishments, a Roman quadriporticus, a network of streets, and a series of interconnected water channels, drains and wells. The EF2 basilica sat just to the northeast of a major intersection in the city that was marked by the quadriporticus, assuming that this structure was still standing in the sixth century. A neatly paved road extended east from this arch and continued some 30 meters, running parallel to the south side of the church. At the time of the basilica’s construction the area between it and the street may have been a leveled courtyard, or atrium, and by the seventh century CE an arcaded, open porch along the building’s south side must have lent an air of prominence to the area. The spacious southern portico, a common feature of the churches on Cyprus, would have offered shelter from the summer sun and winter rains. Main access to the church, however, was through its western end. A left turn at the quadraporticus would have led the visitor past the well-house and workshops, and perhaps also the homes of local artisans en route to the gracefully arcaded narthex. Like the contemporary south portico, this open-air vestibule would have provided a place of repose and shelter for local residents and a likely shortcut to points further east in the city. The monumental Christian basilica that superseded the earlier Hellenistic and Roman levels must have created an impressive and dynamic focal point within this area of the city. To set the church apart, careful leveling courses covered virtually all of the earlier remains in its immediate vicinity, including a small kiln just east of the sanctuary that had been dedicated to the production of lamps in the second century CE (Najbjerg

 

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WORKING DRAFT – DO NOT CITE WITHOUT AUTHORS’ PERMISSION essay, figs. 11, 12). The leveling fills included pottery from the sixth century and links it with the construction of the new church and the transformation of the local neighborhood. The basilica itself, dated to the mid- to late sixth century on the basis of ceramic and stratigraphic analysis, was in every way typical of late antique churches erected throughout the Mediterranean at this time (fig. 3).8 Although almost nothing has survived above the level of the foundations, we can surmise that its three longitudinal aisles were originally separated from one other by two colonnades, each consisting of marble shafts not unlike those that have been found in and around the area of Polis (visible in fig. __. Smith, this volume). Because there is no high-quality marble on the island, these structural members had to be imported from far-distant quarries or taken from ancient buildings that served as convenient substitutes. They were certainly crowned with sculpted capitals that afforded an elegant transition to the wooden trusses and rafters supporting a tile roof above. It would not be surprising if these capitals, like the two included in the exhibition (DANT 066, 077) differed from one another in design and in the style of their carving. The employment of spolia (re-used architectural fragments) was characteristic of the period, and we know that the variegated effect was appreciated by builders and viewers alike.9 The central aisle of the church would have been taller than those on either side of it, with clerestory windows above the colonnades filling the central space with light from above (fig.??). The aisles terminated to the east in three vaulted apses that drew the viewer’s attention toward the sanctuary (or bema) which was the most sacred region of the building. Internally this eastern component, especially its central bay, would have been set apart from the main body of the church by a small step up and a low screen

 

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WORKING DRAFT – DO NOT CITE WITHOUT AUTHORS’ PERMISSION accentuated with colonnettes and a horizontal epistyle beam. A templon screen of this type would have been visually open while physically segregating lay worshippers from officiating clergy and the altar within. A few scant remains of a marble screen and its substructure have been found in excavations, although not enough have survived to reconstruct its overall appearance. An abundance of small mosaic tesserae, both colored stone and gold glass, testify to the presence on the walls here of imagery executed in sumptuous mosaic. A colorful mosaic eye (fig. 4) suggests an apse program that featured human figures, and we can imagine the EF2 basilica outfitted with Christian subjects not unlike those famous examples found in other, surviving late antique apses on the island.10 That this program continued into the aisles is less certain; fragments of painted fresco there suggest that mosaics were exclusive to the apses and played a role in making this part of the building stand apart as special. Finally, at the west end of the church a narrow vestibule, or narthex, preceded the main body of the church and provided a formal space of transition, convocation, and official entry that is commonly encountered in late antique churches. The architecture of the EF2 church complemented the interior decoration to create an environment distinct from everyday experience. The painted walls and opus sectile floors of the church played with the light patterns from the windows, and numerous lamps throughout the building created a dramatic space filled with mystery and meaning. A surviving candle stand, executed in bronze and decorated with motifs evoking the ancient past, demonstrates the economic means to provide sophisticated and elaborate objects as the backdrop to Christian ritual (DANT 090). At the same time a plethora of simple wick holders made of lead (fig. __?) show the more standard form of outfitting

 

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WORKING DRAFT – DO NOT CITE WITHOUT AUTHORS’ PERMISSION churches with glass oil lamps that held a single, floating flame of light. They were frequently grouped together in a polykandelon or chandelier and conveyed the notion of holy and eternal presence within the building. Visitors to the church immersed in ritual and fascinated by its decoration would have, nevertheless, recognized the building as a product of the community. They would have realized that, over time, the church represented more than the single effort of a generous patron, and that its upkeep and architecture reflected the longstanding importance of religious architecture to the community. Parts of the church had collapsed, perhaps soon after it was completed, and a significant refurbishing effort had led to the reconstruction of most of the nave and aisles and the addition of the arcaded narthex and south portico. It seems possible that the cause for the building’s collapse involved a fire that destroyed the wooden roof. The new church used vaulting over the aisles in this seventh-century structure, so that it was in keeping with the fashion of the day and evoked a new sense of permanence and security (fig. ?). An awkward join between the eastern apses and the aisle walls reminded visitors that the most sacred area of the sanctuary remained standing even after the wood roof and parts of the nave walls had collapsed. Reinforcing the special permanence of the building were the tombs built into the eastern end of the south aisle at some point in Late Antiquity. Stepping down into a chamber at the far eastern end would have revealed three burials built against the south wall that contained the remains of important members of the church hierarchy. One of these, probably sunk into the floor not long after the surviving church was constructed, held material signs of the deceased’s high standing – an unusual occurrence at Arsinoe,

 

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WORKING DRAFT – DO NOT CITE WITHOUT AUTHORS’ PERMISSION where individuals were often buried without costly material goods. In this case, however, a bronze cross, its surface originally adorned with incrustation or applied decoration, hung from a bronze chain and rested at the right hip of its former owner as a sign of his piety and important standing (fig. 7; DANT 028). A visitor to the EF2 church in later centuries would have had a different experience. While the basic shape of the main church appears to have remained the same, the interior walls were reinforced after several serious earthquakes and collapses. The decorative marble capitals, no longer necessary in light of the thick, solid walls that now separated the aisles from one another, were re-employed as fill within heavy wall buttressing (DANT 067). The cemetery that grew up around the southeastern end of the church continued to expand, eventually intruding on surrounding structures and roads that had fallen into disuse (fig. 8).11 The open porch along the south side of the building was walled up and used for burials, its floor and that of the courtyard to the south overtaken by residents for the sinking of graves that were shared and re-used. The elegant arches of the narthex were similarly enclosed during these later centuries, with burials sunk into its floors and doorways. It seems possible that burials continued in the vicinity of the church even after the building collapsed, perhaps in the eleventh century, suggesting that the memory of the place as sacred persisted at least into Late Medieval times. This later transformation of the building and its seemingly macabre surroundings has proven important to our understanding of the living community of late antique Arsinoe: The excavation of some 170 graves in this area has offered a rare opportunity to recover information concerning not just the demise but also and especially the health, nutrition, interrelations, demographics, work, and activities of the real and living

 

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WORKING DRAFT – DO NOT CITE WITHOUT AUTHORS’ PERMISSION community of people who inhabited the city and utilized its important monuments. We also capture small hints about the inner lives of individuals through the occasional survival of material goods in their graves. So, for example, the recovery of a lead seal (DANT 035) – the quintessential proof for the existence of an important document which it once secured – demonstrated the persistence of a literate elite into the eighth century. Meanwhile an array of stone pectoral crosses point to a fashion for these small, delicate objects (DANT 095-098) which commemorated the pious act of travel to holy places where they were available for purchase and thenceforth served as a sign of faith and pious achievement. We can even peer into customary activities and daily work habits, such as those of a woman buried alongside a drain in the defunct street south of the basilica: She ran thread or perhaps fish line through her teeth and sewed with a homemade needle carved from a catfish bone extracted from the sea.12 The monumental and the mundane, then, sat side-by-side in the EF2 neighborhood where the pretensions of the elite, the persistence of the sacred, and the memory of everyday life linked Christian space to the social, economic and spiritual fabric of the community. A short walk in the direction of the sea from EF2 leads us first alongside a small establishment directly adjacent to the ancient road. The dynamic character of this small site, called EF1, suggest that the mixed use environment manifest in the workshops, roads, and burials around the EF2 church finds echoes here. A sturdy threshold offered access to more streets or alleyways, where water flowed under covered drains and a corner catchment basin offered cool respite (fig. 9). The function of individual rooms has not been determined, which is typical of mixed-use spaces within a townscape that was constantly changing to accommodate the different needs of inhabitants. The exceptional

 

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WORKING DRAFT – DO NOT CITE WITHOUT AUTHORS’ PERMISSION find of a complete pane of window glass, cast in Late Antiquity and fully preserved, alters long-standing perceptions that such accessories were reserved for the church and not wasted on domestic or industrial spaces (fig. 10). Like the church, this area was eventually used for at least one burial. Sometime during or after the late sixth or seventh century the tomb of a woman was sunk into a wall near the aforementioned threshold. On her left hand was an iron ring and next to her knee a lead seal – again a sign of distinction, ecclesiastical connections, and possible literacy. A second seal was found nearby. We can only guess as to the nature of the documents they once secured or their significance to the deceased woman, but certainly they are a foil to the humble needle buried in the sewing woman’s grave. In any case, the small EF1 site is instructive in demonstrating how industrial, domestic and even burial space did not have firm boundaries in Late Antiquity.

Continuing the northward path, a turn toward the east brings us along a natural bluff overlooking the stunning expanse of Khrysochou Bay. In earlier times the bluff provided the ideal setting for a large and luxuriously decorated building (Najbjerg this volume); in Late Antiquity the site was appropriated for the construction of another church, larger in size (32m x approx.18m) but similar in its basic layout to that in area EF2 (fig. 11).13 Unfortunately this three-aisled basilica is less well preserved than its nearby cousin, in part because of illicit digging in modern times (for building material as well as the looting of antiquities) but also because of a very long and industrious period of habitation lasting throughout the Middle Ages and into the sixteenth century. The extant remains of the building are in fact a palimpsest, its features revealing and

 

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WORKING DRAFT – DO NOT CITE WITHOUT AUTHORS’ PERMISSION concealing layer upon layer of changes in planning, form, and function over some thousand years of occupation. It is interesting to speculate about the choice of this site for the construction of another Late Antique basilica, especially since its exposed location on the low promontory rendered it visible from the sea but also more vulnerable to attackers and the elements. The existence here of an earlier tower, its 1.5m-thick walls visible directly in front of the basilica’s north wall, suggest the possibility that protective walls or at least watch towers defended the exposed position along the bluff. Winds from the north can also be forbidding (and welcome!) here, so that we can imagine events and the open spaces that housed them perhaps being situated to the unexcavated south side of the building to protect them from the elements. Despite the location’s liabilities, the ready supply of finely worked stone in the form of a ruinous ancient building offered clear advantages and was a driving factor in the building of a church at this place. The basilica followed (roughly) the same orientation as the earlier structure, and its builders dug down deep in order to heave up the massive paving stones of its ancient courtyard for re-use in their new construction. As was typical, resources from the ancient past provided the impetus and sustenance for the post-classical community and its projects. The overall impression of the original, sixth-century basilica in area EG0 was probably similar in most respects to the EF2 church with the exception of a small apse projecting from the middle of its northern wall (fig. 11). Burials throughout the church indicate that, like EF2, the church served a mortuary function for the community. The continuous modification of the building, however, makes it difficult to understand the precise shape, arrangement, and phasing of the building. Moreover, we do not have a

 

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WORKING DRAFT – DO NOT CITE WITHOUT AUTHORS’ PERMISSION complete picture of the situation in EG0 since less than half of the church and very little of the surrounding area has been excavated. What we can determine is that the church had in an early phase a fine mosaic floor with was later covered by a durable plaster floor, floors that featured opus sectile paving as well as champlevé carving, and transennae (window framing) carved from the fine limestone of the ancient structure to the north (fig. 12?). The most striking feature of the EG0 church, however, are modifications made to its earliest plan for accommodating the dead. A series of deep (as much as 3 meters), subsurface pits were added to the north and east walls of the building, with additional constructed pits sunk into the floors of the north aisle (fig. 11). All were intended as ossuaries, as is clear from the presence of co-mingled human remains in each one. The long pit just west of the aforementioned apse contained the highest concentration of bones; at least thirty-five individuals were interred there. While the exact reason for these burial additions is not yet clear, we suspect that they served to accommodate remains associated with an earlier church destroyed during the construction of the sixth-century building, although this theory does not explain why the burial pits appear to be slightly later additions to this church’s plan. Nevertheless, the re-interment of remains follows a common practice at this time for the veneration and maintenance of sacred places and consistent with the continued use of the basilica at EF2 for interment throughout its long life. Swift and economical transfer of a community of the dead would account for disarticulation of nearly all interred bodies within the ossuary pits and also for the signs of ritual practice evident within them. While there is significant variation in construction

 

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WORKING DRAFT – DO NOT CITE WITHOUT AUTHORS’ PERMISSION of the pits, they share the common feature of two superimposed square holes, or niches, arranged one above the other in their long walls. Clay lamps (DANT 104) dated to the seventh century were lit and placed near or within the holes, apparently during ceremonies marking the occasion of reburial. Luxury items, such as gold jewelry, rings, coins, and especially bronze buckles, some decorated with colored glass inlay (DANT 052), were found together with the bones and suggest that some, at least, of those buried here could afford expensive adornment. The grave goods in these ossuaries contrast with the more modest stone crosses found in the graves of area EF2. Perhaps these differences reflect social and economic differentiation between two communities that were burying their dead at the same time and within 200 meters of each other. We can only surmise that special circumstances and strictly local requirements influenced the particular layout of (or/ subterranean additions to) the EG0 basilica.14 In the surrounding area, a narrow street immediately west of the building and adjacent to its narthex ran to the north, where it passed by a group of three rooms apparently connected to the 6th century church (fig. 11). These post-date the initial phase of building, but relied upon the southwest corner of the ancient building for foundations. An olive press was housed in two of the rooms; the massive pressing wheel survives as well as a passage for the flow of oil along a spout into a room that likely held a pithos, or storage jar. The association of olive oil production with churches of this period is common in Cyprus confirming once again the deep intermingling of economic, social, and religious activity both at the site of church and in Late Antiquity in general.15 The long life of the EG0 basilica in the aftermath of the Late Antique period is exceedingly difficult to disentangle, but ceramic evidence, including typical glazed wares

 

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WORKING DRAFT – DO NOT CITE WITHOUT AUTHORS’ PERMISSION from the nearby Paphos workshop, indicates continued activities at the church from the early thirteenth century, long after the basilica at EF2 had collapsed.16 Like at EF2, however, the EG0 church saw the thickening and extending of walls throughout the building to partition space or support heavy vaulting overhead. The vaults, together with the walls that supported them, were covered with a program of colorful and finely executed frescos that survived as thousands of small, multi-colored pieces of plaster – all embedded in a thick fill of mortar and tile lying on top of a hard and durable plaster floor. Additions were made to the sanctuary area, and the north aisle was evidently modified to function as a side chapel and a newly-added apsidal east wall was provided with an altar that used an overturned late antique column capital for support (fig. 14, DANT 066). The area north of the church preserves numerous fragmentary views of the site's later history. Almost immediately adjacent to the basilica stood a building of some pretension. While its state of preservation makes it difficult to assign a clear function, it may have been the house of a local elite. The series of attached rooms on the south side of the structure might be stables, and the presence of a large pithos incorporated into walls of one corner of the building suggests either storage or the need to collect water for local use. Nearby, excavators discovered two substantial middens. One was an ashy pit full of glazed bowls w/ sgraffito decoration dated to the thirteenth century together with spurs, strap guards, and dice. The area also produced two hoards of coins. One dated from 1285-1398, with a corresponding date of concealment following soon after this.17 In the same general area appeared a slightly earlier hoard of 430 copper coins that was concealed in a fabric pouch after 1369.18 The presence of two hoards with dates in the second half of the 14th century and various middens may indicate that the imposing

 

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WORKING DRAFT – DO NOT CITE WITHOUT AUTHORS’ PERMISSION building north of the church went out of use by the end of the 14th century perhaps in a particularly tumultuous time in the site's history. The church, on the other hand, continued to function, undergo modification, and, like the basilica at EF2, it gradually became filled with burials. One burial deserves special mention. It was placed directly on axis with the main apse of the church and was articulated with a lime-plaster ‘ledge’ of vertical panels incorporated into the plaster floor and surrounding the perimeter of the tomb (fig. 15?). Immediately to the west stood a small structure consisting of a low stone sockle supporting mud-brick walls. To the east of the tomb, a sandstone block was axially positioned within another low wall. The block bore a fresco depicting the prophet Elijah, or perhaps Adam, which was turned toward the south, away from the grave (DANT 068). Directly in line and facing it, however, was the blue and red pattern of its border decoration, wing-like in appearance and sitting directly on the floor (DANT 068, also oblique or side view). The arrangement of the tomb and the placement of the painted limestone block suggest that the tomb was a site of commemorative practices or, perhaps, some kind of local cult activities. Efforts to establish a connection with the image of a revered saint are common in the Middle Ages, and a local parallel for such an arrangement is not far away: In the fourteenth century, Marchon Pantimos, bishop of Arsinoe and Paphos, was buried in nearby Makounda, directly under the feet of the Archangel St.Michael.19 The church at EG0 received a new floor made of gypsum tiles that was placed just above and nearby this particular burial. The floor is conveniently dated by a coin dropped by workmen between the pavers and subfloor; its presence informs us that renovations were still being made to the building in the years following 1460-73.20

 

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WORKING DRAFT – DO NOT CITE WITHOUT AUTHORS’ PERMISSION The western part of the church also saw a dense series of new burials within the building, especially in the area of its spacious narthex but also outside the building in the area adjacent to the church's west wall. These burials differed from the earlier Late Antique burials at the site because they generally included at least one glazed bowl with every individual, placed in various locations around the body but most frequently near the legs, feet or arms.. This follows the custom of so-called ‘bowl burials’ which likely arrived in Cyprus through contact with Westerners with the Crusader conquest of the island (after ca. 1200).21 While the bowl burials vary in date, most of them in Polis date from the fourteenth to sixteenth centuries, with the earliest vessels imported from Paphos and the later examples from Lapithos workshops.22 The burials also sometimes included modest water jugs apparently for the pouring of water in association with the interment. Practices of anointing the dead with a bowl or vessel from the deceased's household find echoes in contemporary practice on Cyprus, where the priest pours oil in the sign of the cross over the dead with a bowl brought by the family to the grave.23 Alternatively, the bowls may have been used to burn incense, another custom perhaps brought by the Latins.24 In one fourteenth century burial, the combination of oil and incense may have caused a juniper wood coffin to smolder, thereby preserving part of it. It appears that families were often buried together in the same burial. The charred coffin came from a burial in the narthex which also produced the commingled remains of six individuals including two adult males, an adult female, a toddler, and an infant. The two bowls included in the exhibition, both dated to the fourteenth century, were recovered from this burial (DANT 101, DANT 102). The woman's teeth showed similar signs of wear (working with thread) as her Late Antique predecessor from EF2, and very

 

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WORKING DRAFT – DO NOT CITE WITHOUT AUTHORS’ PERMISSION recent research has produced more sewers and needles from the area. The southwest corner of the narthex preserved a particularly touching burial of a woman with a oneyear-old child in the crook of her left arm. Each received a bowl, one of which was carefully placed on a shelf above the woman’s head. The woman appeared to have had an icon placed on her chest. Just outside the church, a burial produced the remains of an individual who seems to have suffered from leprosy. Elsewhere in the church the abundance of lime covering graves suggests efforts to control the spread of plague in the fourteenth century or later. The latest burial at the site is dated to after 1560 by a coin placed in his mouth. This burial cut through the dense fill of plaster and debris in what would have been the north aisle of the church, suggesting the building had at least partially collapsed by the late sixteenth century. As with the church in area EF2, however, it continued to be an important and visible landmark in the community.

Today the successor of Arsinoe, the modern village of Polis, seems entirely set apart from the bustle of larger Cypriot cities like Nicosia, Limassol, and Larnaka. As our preceding sketch has indicated, the city of Arsinoe was deeply embedded in economic, political, and ecclesiastical networks throughout Late Antiquity and the Middle Ages. The end of Antiquity saw the city as part of a densely urbanized landscape including the important cities of Soloi and Nea Paphos, the smaller town of Peyia on the west coast, and the numerous villages that dotted the Akamas peninsula. The town’s prosperity likely derived from its situation along the main route from Soli to Nea Paphos together with good harbor facilities on the relatively protected coast of the Chrysochou bay. The fertile Chrysochou valley almost certainly provided economic vigor to local residents as did the

 

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WORKING DRAFT – DO NOT CITE WITHOUT AUTHORS’ PERMISSION nearby copper mines just 3 km to the east. The number of Roman sites identified by even low-intensity regional survey projects shows that Arsinoe was, indeed, was the center of a "busy countryside" in Late Antiquity.25 Regional production fed the small-scale industrial establishments throughout the town and provided agricultural produce and manufactured goods for local consumption and coastal trade. As a community, then, Arsinoe represents another site in the growing list of mid-sized, Late Roman settlements on Cyprus whose prosperity was tied to various forms of production (agricultural, smallscale industrial, fishing, mining and the smelting of copper) together with coastal access and the proximity of major overland communication routes. The economic organization of Arsinoe and the island of Cyprus benefited from the prosperity of the Late Roman Eastern Mediterranean. Positioned near major markets in the Levant, Asia Minor, and the Aegean and poised to take advantage of trade routes extending from North African and Egypt to the capital of Constantinople, Cyprus enjoyed access to most of the major avenues of wealth in the Late Roman East. Ceramics most likely produced in the western part of the island, particularly the widely traded Cypriot Red Slip, reveals the reach of Cypriot goods. Late Roman 1 amphoras manufactured on the island carried Cypriot agricultural produce to Asia Minor and the Aegean. The sustained agricultural prosperity of Cyprus and the easy access to the Aegean almost certainly accounted for its transfer from the Prefecture of the Oriens to the Prefecture of the West, so that agricultural production on the island could feed the embattled imperial forces on the Danubian frontier. The period of Arab raids and the subsequent so-called "condominium" does not appear to have forced an abrupt end to prosperity in and around Arsinoe. The churches at

 

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WORKING DRAFT – DO NOT CITE WITHOUT AUTHORS’ PERMISSION EF2 and EG0 continued to function, and this is consistent with some of the sites on the Akamas peninsula and in the area of Paphos. The presence of seventh and eighth-century forms of Cypriot Red Slip at Arsinoe, for example, indicate that the site continued to engage in local exchange and production patterns. Recent research suggests that regional trade remained active throughout southern Asia Minor even into the 8th century, and it seems that the western part of the island continued to participate in at least some of this exchange. It seems likely that local agricultural, religious, and civic life continued through the threat of Arab raids, even as the political and military instability of the era must have been real. There is only limited indication that economic activity continued at Polis and in the vicinity during the ninth to eleventh centuries. The failure to rebuild EF2 after its final destruction in the eleventh century should not be understood to represent a general period of decline for the region or the island more generally. In fact, we know that the eleventh and particularly the twelfth century was a period of economic expansion, extensive construction, and architectural innovation on the island. The northwest corner of Cyprus and the Chrysochou valley participated in these changes. The political and military disruptions of the eleventh century saw Cyprus move from a peripheral province of a rapidly decentralizing Byzantine state to an important crossroads for Western interests in the region. The arrival of the Crusaders both on Cyprus and in the Levant once again linked the island to its closest neighbors and provided access to foreign markets, craftsmen, and goods. On the one hand, the barely published results of the excavations of the thirteenth-century Crusader castle at Saranda Kolones caution us from assuming economic integration between new arrivals and long-

 

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WORKING DRAFT – DO NOT CITE WITHOUT AUTHORS’ PERMISSION standing economic patterns on the island. On the other hand, the proliferation of architecturally significant churches throughout the southwestern part of the island and in the western Troodos suggests a period of local economic expansion. The developing influence of Italian merchant communities and other foreign groups over the course of the twelfth century likely stimulated the production of agricultural production for trade off the island. It is tempting to see the more extensive contacts between Cyprus and the Levant as stimulating the increased number of monumental churches in the vicinity of Polis.26 The major foundations at Letimbou, near Kholi, and at the Georgian Monastery of Gialia date to the twelfth or early thirteenth centuries. These foundations not only reflected external investments in the region through the monastery at Gialia, but also the willingness of either local residents or newcomers to invest in villages throughout the Chrysochou Valley. Undoubtedly its continued productivity, the easy access to the coast, and the proximity to the regional center at Paphos must have all contributed to the general prosperity recorded at Arsinoe. The presence of finewares and other elite goods, the maintenance of the church in area EG0, and several other large-scale construction projects indicate that the fabric of the community remained dynamic throughout the twelfth and thirteenth centuries and possibly later. The monumental churches of the city of Arsinoe tie together myriad local lives. The inscriptions celebrating the role of the ecclesiastical authorities in providing these anchors for everyday life, echoes texts produced seven centuries later that place the bishop alongside the secular leader of the village in adjudicating over marriages, engagements, and other family affairs. At the same time, the lively and dynamic

 

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WORKING DRAFT – DO NOT CITE WITHOUT AUTHORS’ PERMISSION architectural history of the churches of Arisnoe show that the community continued to adapt to new challenges. The intimate picture painted by the physical remains of individuals interred with their prized possessions, surrounded by family members, and amidst the dynamic architecture of their local churches reminds us that the eternal, monumental, and mundane coexist.                                                                                                                
1

This essay owes much to the group of specialists who comprise the post-classical team working at Polis: Scott Moore, Kyle Killian, Sarah Lepinski, and Brenda Baker have all contributed their expertise to the project both in the field and through their research. 2 For the inscribed statue base see the preceding essay by Najbjerg, this volume. 3 The date rests on an analysis of the letterforms together with the known existence of two archbishops called Sabinos (of Constantia) in Cyprus during the fifth century. The first held office from 403/4 – 431 and the other after 457 CE. Cyprus Museum Inscr. 445, Inv. 1960/XI-19/2. The inscription was twice published: Nicolaou 1961-63 with a date of 451-88 and Nicolaou 1971, with an ‘early fifth century’ date. The stone measures 38cm x 97 cm x 20cm and so was a substantial marker of official presence in the town. The translation give here is Nicolaou’s. 4  Sathas  1877,  522.   5  A field behind the dig house is, according to local legend, a site of a ‘big church’ of Arsinoe; The remains of a small, vaulted chapel (apparently Byzantine in date) just south of the modern town suggests the existence of additional ecclesiastical buildings. Arsinoe might be compared to the Late Antique site of nearby Peyia, on the west coast, with at least six basilicas and chapels of comparable date. 6 Brown, “The rise and function of the holy man in Late Antiquity” on the changing role of bishops? Or Garth Fowden? 7 Von Falkenhausen 1999, 28. 8 Although the basilica in EF2 is typical of so many basilicas constructed at this time throughout the eastern Mediterranean, recent work of the newly assembled team of scholars working on the post-Classical strata should not be underestimated. Our close reading of stratigraphy and ceramic evidence holds the possibility of overturning earlier, now outdated chronologies that were based purely on stylistic analysis. 9  Saradi-Mendelovici 1990, 52-53, on the perceived importance of variety, or ποικιλία and the re-use of ancient building materials. 10  Megaw 1974, 74-76.   11  The burials in are EF2 were initially studied by Stacey Buck for her Masters thesis: Buck 1993. This work continues under the aegis of Brenda Baker, on which see Baker and Papalexandrou 2012 emphasizing the bioarchaeological evidence. Preliminary observations can be found in Papalexandrou 2012. 12  Baker,  Papalexandrou  and  Terhune  2012.   13  Najbjerg,  Nicklies,  and  Papalexandrou  2002.   14 A similar situation is found on Cyprus at the church of St.Tychonos at Amathus, on which see Aupert 1996, 153-61. 15  Hadjisavvas  1992.   16  Papanikola-Bakirtzis 2000. The medieval ceramics are now under study by Kyle Killian. 17 Metcalf 1990. 18  The copper coin is under study by Alan Stahl of Princeton University.   19 Darrouzes 1951. In Paris. Suppl. fr. 74 informs us that one Marchon Pantimos, bishop of Arsinoe, died in August 1335 and was buried in the chapel of St.Arkadios at Makounda (in the foothills east of Arsinoe/Polis). We are grateful to Tassos Papacostas for this reference.   20  We are grateful to Alan Stahl for examining this coin and providing a firm, revised date. 21  Ivison 1993. 22  Bakirtzis 2000.

 

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WORKING DRAFT – DO NOT CITE WITHOUT AUTHORS’ PERMISSION                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          
23  Bakirtzis 24  Ivison

1989, 38 on the modern continuation of the practice. 1993, 252 on thymiateria. 25  Rautman 2000, Rautman 2004.   26  Papacostas  1999.  

 

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