Title: The Economy of Late Antique Cyprus [Electronic Edition]

Author: Papacostas, Tassos.
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Title: The Economy of Late Antique Cyprus

Title: Economy and exchange in the East Mediterranean during Late Antiquity : proceedings of a conference at Somerville College, Oxford, 29th May, 1999 pp. 107-128.

Author: Papacostas, Tassos.
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The Economy of Late Antique Cyprus [Electronic Edition]


The Economy of Late Antique Cyprus


“…and her inhabitants, toiling their land and trading with foreign nations, were growing in both prosperity and wealth … they were founding temples and churches, building magnificent dwellings, surrounding their cities with walls and renovating fortifications”.
This is more or less all that Archimandrite Kyprianos has to say about non-ecclesiastical matters in late antique Cyprus in his Chronological History, published in Venice in 1788.1 Although surprisingly succinct as a comment on a relatively long period that stretches from the reign of Constantine (324–37) to the Arab raids of the mid-seventh century, the archimandrite's statement encapsulates the essence of late antique Cyprus as this is revealed by archaeology. The rest of the eighteenth century historian's account of this period is focused on two events which concern the island's ecclesiastical history: first, the visit of Saint Helena in the fourth century, and then the confirmation of the autonomy of the Cypriot Church in the fifth century.
Indeed, a cursory look at the available, yet scanty, late antique source material shows that this is almost exclusively concerned with the second event related by Kyprianos, namely the discovery of the relic of Barnabas, founder of the Church of Cyprus, by Archbishop Anthemios outside Salamis/Constantia (the island's provincial capital). This led to the much discussed autocephaly of the Cypriot Church, a privilege jealously guarded throughout subsequent centuries.2 The earlier event upon which Kyprianos dwells persistently, Helena's alleged visit on her way back to Constantinople from the Holy Land where she had discovered the relic of the True Cross, is not recorded until the Medieval period, and Cypriot monasteries like Stavrovouni (near Larnaca) and Saint Nicholas of the Cats (near Cape Gata), whose traditions link their foundation with the Constantinian period and the empress mother, do not preserve any kind of evidence to buttress their claims.3
T. B. Mitford's statement that the Roman period, also characterised by the same lack of written sources, was one of “tranquil obscurity” for Cyprus, remains totally valid for most of Late Antiquity as well, in view of the marked dearth of textual material at least until the seventh century.4 Occasionally we do hear about natural disasters and raids that interrupted the peaceful existence of the islanders, such as the fourth century earthquakes that affected the great urban centres, or the Isaurian attacks of the early

fifth century.5 These events, together with the mid-sixth century plague and its frequent recurrences which, although not documented, must have affected Cyprus too, may have had an impact on the island's economy and demography.6 The population is estimated to have reached 200,000 in the Roman period,7 and a similar figure may be assumed, albeit with much caution, for the sixth century before the outbreak of the epidemic; a probably welcome boost was provided by the transfer of captives, presumably Christian Armenians, after a campaign against the Persians in the late 570s.8
Late antique Cyprus enjoyed a vigorous urban culture. According to the sixth century geographical list of cities known as the Synekdemos of Hierokles, the island boasted 13 poleis,9 all coastal save two: Tamasos on the north-eastern foothills of the Troodos massif was situated in an area renowned for its copper mines, while Chytroi (Kythraia) on the south flank of the Kyrenia range had control of the most important springs on the island, that supplied Salamis on the east coast with water through a long aqueduct.10 Salamis may have intermittently served as administrative capital in the Roman period (second to third centuries). However, it was not until its mid-fourth century reconstruction (necessitated after serious earthquake damage), when it was renamed Constantia in honour of Constans I, that it became the permanent provincial capital of Cyprus.11 It was also the seat of the metropolitan of the island, who had eleven or more suffragan bishops.12 The increasingly important role of the church in urban life towards the end of the period is illustrated by the inscriptions of the first half of the seventh century from the aqueduct of Salamis/Constantia, that commemorate the completion of parts of the work under successive archbishops.13
Cyprus emerges somewhat from the dark, as far as the written record is concerned, only in the seventh century. Although this is at least partly due to accidents of survival–we just happen to have several texts, mainly hagiographic, some locally written–it must also be related to developments in the eastern Mediterranean at that time, ushered in by the protracted Persian wars and advance in Syria-Palestine and Egypt, the ascent to the throne of Heraclius, and finally, the beginning of Arab expansion. Cyprus played a key role in all these events: in 609/10 it was used by Heraclius as a base on his way to the throne and the future emperor struck coins there.14 A few years later, c. 619, the island was probably attacked by the Persians: our unique testimony is an ambiguous passage in two short versions of the Life of Saint John the Almsgiver (the Cypriot patriarch of Alexandria appointed by Heraclius), which is based on the lost Life written by John Moschos and Sophronios. According to these texts, a general named Aspagourios was preparing to lay siege to Salamis/Constantia after having been refused entry into the city. The potentially explosive situation was resolved peacefully with the intervention of the respected prelate who reconciled the parties.15 A reference to captives escaping from their Persian prison and returning to Cyprus may confirm the occurrence of the attack, while the island, as in so many other periods of its history, also welcomed refugees fleeing trouble on the Syro-Palestinian mainland.16
Despite these upheavals, or perhaps because of them, the seventh century sources portray a prosperous island whose inhabitants are involved in trade, often travelling overseas for both professional and spiritual reasons. The story of Philentolos, the wealthy land and ship owner from Salamis/Constantia, whose fate after death the

synod of the Church of Cyprus felt compelled to discuss because, although a distinguished philanthropist, he was also a notorious hedonist, is often cited as evidence for the wealth to be found on the island in the years immediately preceding the Arab raids.17
Archaeology provides supplementary and tangible evidence. The numerous gold coin hoards buried during this period testify to the amount of money circulating on the island.18 The two Cyprus treasures (found near the north coast) that include spoons, domestic silver plates, gold jewellery and the set of silverware dated to 629/30 known as the David Plates, also betray an affluent society.19 The evidence for building activity during the previous centuries leads to the same conclusion for the entire late antique period: some eighty basilicas and smaller churches have been identified or excavated on the island, not only in the cities but also in small and remote rural settlements.20 Three of the very few late antique apse mosaics preserved in the eastern empire are indeed found in a non-urban setting on Cyprus, at Lythrankomi and Livadia in the Karpas, and at Kiti near the south coast, while floor mosaics from secular buildings have also been found in rural areas, such as the Toilet of Venus from a fifth century bath belonging to a villa at Alassa in the southern foothills of the Troodos, and the hunting panel from a late fourth/early fifth century bath at Mansoura (on the northern coast, halfway between Arsinoe and Soloi).21
Archaeological surveys, which are being carried out with increasing frequency, help to nuance the picture significantly, irrespective of their tendency to focus on pre-Roman remains (Fig. 6.1). The area of the Kormakiti peninsula on the north coast near the city of Lapethos, today a rather desolate and sparsely populated region, was densely occupied in the sixth and seventh centuries, before being abandoned in the eighth, although some coastal sites in this zone had been abandoned much earlier,22 A large survey in the north-eastern Mesaoria and the western Karpas peninsula has produced similar results, with a notable concentration of late antique sites along the north coast, facing Cilicia.23 The valley of the Yialias river in the central plain shows uninterrupted occupation from Roman into early Christian times, although not as dense as that of the northern coast.24 According to the results of recent work by the Sydney Cyprus Survey Project (SCSP) around the villages of Politiko and Mitsero in the north-eastern foothills of the Troodos massif, to the west of the ancient city of Tamasos, the intensity of activity in this area during the Hellenistic period was not matched until the fifth and sixth centuries, after which decline set in again.25 A comparable trend, with a peak in the first century A.D., was observed in the Vasilikos valley on the south coast (the area of Saint Helena's alleged activity on the island in the fourth century), although here the resumption of growth occurred slightly later, in the sixth century, and lasted into the late seventh.26 A French survey in the territory of Amathus, where the Vasilikos valley lies, has confirmed this.27
The Canadian Palaipaphos Survey Project (CPSP), conducted in the region of modern Kouklia, is the largest and most detailed venture of this kind carried out so far on Cyprus. Once more, the meticulously examined ceramic evidence shows peak occupation in the first century, followed by decline that lasts through the fourth, before a reversal in the fortunes of the region culminating in the sixth century.28 Further to the north, the Akamas peninsula, which like the Kormakiti area is sparsely populated

today, witnessed the only survey on the island whose main aim was to elucidate the late antique past of a region. According to the Danish archaeologists, who also excavated a small rural settlement there (discussed below), the Roman period witnessed very limited activity. A sudden and rather short-lived flourishing in the fifth/sixth century was followed by decline in the early seventh.29
The results of the above surveys are unanimous: the expansion of the Hellenistic and early Roman period, attested in most sites, was followed by decline or stagnation that lasted until the fifth century, when growth is again detected, reaching a peak in the following century and then subsiding after the Arab raids. Nevertheless, not all areas experienced these trends contemporaneously; there are some clear regional differences too: in the western part of the island decline clearly set in earlier, in the course of the late sixth or early seventh century, and as we shall see below, some rural settlements were abandoned well before the mid-seventh century.30 The causes for the prosperity of not only the urban centres, but also the rural landscape in late antique Cyprus, should be sought in the opportunities offered during this period for trade in the island's natural resources, agricultural produce and manufactured goods.

Mining and Timber

Cyprus was particularly renowned in Antiquity for its copper mines.31 Among the most productive were those in the Soloi area, visited and described by Galen in the second century. Although it has been suggested that exhaustion led to their abandonment after the fourth/fifth century, resulting in the silting of the city's neglected harbour,32 archaeological evidence from elsewhere on the island suggests a different picture. The slag heaps examined by the SCSP in the region of Tamasos have shown that the local mines, mentioned by Strabo, were still in use perhaps as late as the seventh century.33 Considering that the most easily accessible port was Soloi, to which Tamasos was linked directly by a Roman road, the copper from the north-eastern Troodos was perhaps still being exported in Late Antiquity;34 this would suggest that the harbour silted up at a later date. The mines of Limni, near Arsinoe (modern Polis), were definitely in use in the fifth century,35 while those of Kalavasos were being exploited during the short period when the nearby settlement flourished in the sixth/early seventh century (discussed below). The industrial mining sites located within the area of the CPSP, in the south-western foothills of the Troodos, have also yielded evidence for activity in Late Antiquity.36 It may, moreover, be assumed that the short-lived mint established by Heraclius on the island in 609/10 used locally extracted metal; indeed, the availability of copper may lie behind the future emperor's decision.37
The smelting of copper ore requires vast amounts of timber for fuel. Fortunately, Cyprus has always been well stocked with that commodity too. On the basis of the evidence from slag heaps, it has been estimated that the timber used during 3.5 millennia of copper production came from forests covering sixteen times the area of the whole island. The deforestation of Cyprus was nevertheless avoided through both the natural regeneration of forests (80–100 years)38 and presumably through a policy of careful forest management. The island's cedars and pine trees were felled to build the

fleets of Alexander and the Ptolemies, and although we have no direct evidence for the exploitation of timber resources in our period, Ammianus Marcellinus' statement that the island could build and equip a ship from keel to sail entirely on its own resources, and Zosimus' testimony that Cyprus provided Licinius with thirty triremes during his struggle against Constantine,39 would suggest that timber continued to be widely available at least during the fourth century.
With the above in mind, it seems difficult to explain the lack of evidence for occupation, or at least some activity during Late Antiquity, in the Troodos massif. This is where the island's forests are largely concentrated today after all, and there are indications that in earlier times the region's resources were exploited, perhaps leading to permanent settlement as well: the asbestos mines (1300–1500m a.s.l.) operating until recently at Amiandos near Mount Olympus, the massif's highest peak, were mentioned in Hellenistic and Roman times as a source of textile fibres;40 tombs and other structures dating from Classical, Hellenistic and Roman times have been found, usually during rescue excavations, in several locations in the central part of the mountain range.41 The virtually total lack of late antique material, on the other hand, may suggest that the lower foothills and the lowlands–despite their deforestation reported by Eratosthenes42–still preserved some of their coverage, which satisfied the needs of the ship-building, copper-smelting and building industries, leaving the upland forests intact. It also suggests that the economic potential of this area for agriculture, with its well-watered valleys ideally suited for arboriculture and vine-growing (provided that there was sufficient investment in terracing), was not being exploited either.


This is confirmed by the source references to agricultural produce, which mainly concern the lowlands. According to Pliny, the island was renowned for its wines, onions, garlic, palm trees and dates, the latter also noted by the Piacenza pilgrim during his visit to Salamis/Constantia in the sixth century. Strabo also remarked that “in fertility Cyprus is not inferior to any one of the islands, for it produces both good wine and good oil, and also a sufficient supply of grain for its own use”.43 This statement is, of course, valid for most periods of Cypriot history, including obviously Late Antiquity. Grain from the island was exported occasionally, if not regularly, to Egypt during the Hellenistic period together with wine, and later to Rome.44
The Life of Spyridon, the fourth century bishop of Tremithus, written in the 650s, offers a good picture of society in a late antique settlement in the central plain, whose economy was based mainly on agriculture and animal husbandry. The miracles reported to have been performed by the saint, both during his lifetime and later, revolve around avaricious landowners owning warehouses overflowing with wheat, shepherds in search of their lost sheep, and the bishop's own herd of goats.45
Archaeological corroboration for the slight written evidence concerning oil production is provided by the numerous presses identified or excavated in various parts of the island. Their frequent occurrence in an urban setting, at places like Paphos next to the city's cathedral, at Curium within the perimeter of the Villa of Achilles, and

in Amathus by a presumably monastic basilica, shows that olive pressing was not confined to the rural milieu.46 This is undoubtedly related to the port facilities available, for it is certain that Cypriot oil was exported.

Ceramic Production and Trade

Late Roman 1 amphorae (LR1) that contained oil or wine have been found in many Cypriot sites, mostly along or near the coast (at Diorios, Lapethos, Carpasia, Salamis, Citium, Kalavasos, Amathus, Curium, Paphos). This amphora type, produced in the Eastern Mediterranean from the fourth until the seventh century, is also found in Greece, Asia Minor, Syria-Palestine, Egypt, as well as in the Western Mediterranean, and as far away as Britain and around the Black Sea. Although it has long been suspected that LR1 was manufactured on Cyprus too, there was no secure evidence until a kiln with large quantities of wasters belonging to this particular type was revealed during a rescue excavation in the east necropolis of Paphos. Amathus and Curium have also yielded some evidence which may indicate the existence of kilns, coinciding conveniently with the presence of olive presses in the same cities. What is more, it has been suggested that the vast majority of LR1 finds from Egypt (Alexandria, Fayyum) are of Cypriot origin, showing the close trade links between the two provinces.47 An additional element indicative of this is the pre-eminence of Cypriot red-slip ware, a type produced between the late fourth and early seventh century, among the finds from Egyptian sites in the Delta region; indeed, such is their frequency at Abu Mina, the cult centre of Saint Menas near Alexandria, that a large part of the island's output may have been destined for the Alexandrian market, according to John Hayes.48
Although our written sources, being primarily hagiographic works, are not particularly helpful in illuminating trade links and economic matters, they do suggest a brisk traffic between Cyprus and Egypt mainly in the seventh century, usually for pilgrimage purposes. The shrine of Kyros and John at Alexandria was particularly popular with Cypriot pilgrims, as we learn from the Life of the early seventh century Cypriot patriarch of Alexandria, John the Almsgiver: its author, Bishop Leontios of Neapolis (Limassol, on the south coast of Cyprus), had been there during the second quarter of the century, when he also visited the shrine of Menas. The patriarch's death in his native city of Amathus in 620 was announced to his Alexandrian flock by Cypriots travelling there, while his nephew is also reported to have spent some time in the Egyptian metropolis.49 The contemporary miracula of Kyros and John contain several stories involving Cypriot pilgrims–not only from the south coast, but from the north of the island as well (Lapethos)–including the rather amusing story of the paralysed George, whose failed attempt to commit suicide followed several nights of incubation in the shrine, during which he had to move his bed repeatedly in order to avoid the crow which persistently followed him, defecating over the peacefully sleeping pilgrim.50 Saint Spyridon's vita also contains references to this shrine,51 visited by the monk John whose later encounter with another Cypriot in Alexandria once more illustrates the popularity of the city with Cypriot pilgrims, travellers, and presumably merchants too, as the ceramic evidence indicates.
A comparable picture of frequent sea travel between the island and Cilicia is provided by the fifth century miracula of Thekla, whose shrine was situated outside Seleucia.52 Archaeological evidence from elsewhere along the coast opposite Cyprus proves that contacts were not limited to the world of devout pilgrims eager to save their souls or heal their bodies; this region, after all, was one of the most highly urbanised in late antique Asia Minor.53 At Anemurium, only 64 km across the sea from Cyprus, the most frequent late antique fine-ware is Cypriot red-slip, in particular during the last phase of occupation at the site in the seventh century.54 At Tarsus and Antioch, on the other hand, this ware appears mainly from the mid-fifth to the early sixth century.55 It was surely part of the cargo of ships arriving at Seleucia Pieria, Antioch's port at the mouth of the Orontes, whose duties to be paid to the curiosi are stipulated in a sixth century inscription now kept in the museum of Antioch.56 The tariff due varies according to the ship's tonnage and provenance, and the latter includes what are presumably Antioch's major trading partners in the region, namely Phoenicia, Cilicia, Palestine, Egypt and Cyprus.
Cypriot red-slip ware has been found around the Aegean too, and was being exported quite early on, as the late fourth century finds from the Yassi Ada wreck show. Later on it was sent as far away as Cyrenaica and Constantinople in the sixth and seventh centuries.57 The development of commercial relations between Cyprus and some of these areas is indicated by a small number of lead seals. A sixth century seal found at Tyre and a seal of 629–31, presumably from Constantinople, belong to kommerkiarioi of Cyprus, while a mid-seventh century seal found on the island itself belongs to a kommerkiarios of Asia, Caria and Lycia.58
Although marine archaeology and the excavation of shipwrecks off the coast of Cyprus have not yet attracted the attention they deserve, a few surveys have been conducted in the recent past: the corpus covering the whole Mediterranean and compiled by A.J. Parker lists fifteen shipwrecks in the island's waters. Six of these are dated to the fifth, sixth and seventh centuries (Cape Kiti, Thalassines Spilies to the north of Paphos, and four near Cape Apostolos Andreas), showing the importance of shipping during that period.59
Not surprisingly, the archaeological record amply demonstrates that the sea played a major role in the economy of Cyprus. The same is suggested by our written sources.60 Several miracles reported to have been performed during Spyridon's lifetime indicate that even the inhabitants of an inland settlement like Tremithus were involved in seafaring. We hear of a local sailor who, having been away for two years, returns to find his wife pregnant, and of a ship-owner who, while borrowing money on a regular basis from the bishop, nevertheless tries to cheat his generous benefactor.61 Our sources also clarify that contacts between the island's ports and those on the surrounding mainland and beyond were numerous. In the fourth century, Epiphanius of Salamis, intending to undertake the journey from Palestine to Cyprus in order to meet Hilarion of Gaza, had no trouble finding a Paphos-bound ship at the port of Caesarea.62 In December 655, Archbishop Paul of Crete stopped at Cyprus on his way from Egypt to Constantinople and happened to be at Tremithus on Spyridon's feastday for the first public reading of the recently completed Life of the saint by Theodore of Paphos; at the same time, incidentally, a fair where clothes were being sold was also taking place.63
According to another contemporary Cypriot author, Anastasius of Sinai, one of the miracles attributed to Saint Athanasius Pentaschoinites, from an inland village near the south coast of Cyprus, involved saving a ship in peril.64 The mobility of the island's workforce, using of course the sea, is illustrated by one of John the Almsgiver's servants, who had been employed by a customs official in Africa prior to his engagement with John's household on Cyprus.65 In the late sixth century, George of Choziba also left his native island in order to seek work overseas, although in this case it was spiritual employment George was looking for: he followed the footsteps of his elder brother, a monk at the laura of Kalamon in the Judean desert, and himself became a monk at the monastery of Choziba.66
The ships criss-crossing the seas around Cyprus, leaving the island's ports carrying LR1 amphorae in their holds, filled with oil and wine and Cypriot red-slip wares, and on their decks suicidal pilgrims, monks in search of solitude, bishops with a penchant for hagiography, and betrayed sailors, surely did not return to the island empty. The evidence, however, is limited to two main types of import. The CPSP finds indicate that during the third and the first half of the fourth century, after the end of Cypriot sigillata production and before the appearance of Cypriot red-slip ware, the only fine ware available in south-western Cyprus, and presumably all over the island, was African red-slip. In later centuries, when the market was inundated by local products, imports were dominated by Phocean red-slip wares from western Asia Minor (Late Roman C), especially in the later fifth and during the sixth century. The importation of amphorae from Cilicia, North Africa, Palestine, and possibly Egypt, started in the later fourth century, although as in the case of fine wares they gradually gave way to locally produced types.67
The second imported commodity, which is adequately documented archaeologically, is marble. Since Cyprus does not have good quality marble of its own, stone was used instead for architectural elements. Although some marble was shipped in during the Classical, Hellenistic and Roman periods, it was not until the late fifth century that imports started in earnest, with the construction of the vast Campanopetra basilica at Salamis/Constantia.68 Even less important buildings, like the recently excavated beach basilica at Curium and the churches of the settlement at Cape Drepanum, were liberally provided with marble.69 Indeed, such was the appreciation of its beauty and its availability on the island that mosaic floors in the sixth century had to share their earlier virtual monopoly of floor coverage with marble opus sectile and even plain marble slabs, which are found not only along the coast, where access to the imported commodity was of course easier, but on inland sites too.70 The trade in marble architectural elements, mainly from the quarries of Proconnesus on the Sea of Marmara, is well attested during the late antique period all over the Mediterranean, and Cyprus was no exception in taking advantage of the possibilities offered by this state of affairs.71

Rural Settlements

Finally, we shall examine below three rural sites that provide an alternative picture of the island's economy in Late Antiquity to that offered by the evidence from the cities,

usually focused on their harbours, imported goods, long-distance trade and lavish architecture.
The extensive survey of the Vasilikos valley, mentioned above, included the partial excavation between 1987 and 1991 of Kalavasos-Kopetra (ancient name unknown), identified as the major late antique settlement in the area. Perched on a hill overlooking the east bank of the river, at a distance of 5 km from the coast, this unfortified rural settlement must have belonged to the territory of the nearest city, Amathus, located less than 16 km to the west on, or very near, the Roman road which followed the island's south coast. Its population is estimated not to have exceeded 1,000 inhabitants during its apogee, dated by the ceramic evidence to the sixth-to-seventh centuries, to which 90% of the finds are attributed. Half of the latter are amphorae, whose presence is surely linked to the olive or wine press identified in Area IV of the excavation. Among the fine wares recovered, slightly more than half were Cypriot red-slip, one third Phocean red-slip, and the remainder Egyptian and African imports. Although the question of the channels through which these reached the village has not been addressed, and despite the markets of nearby Amathus remaining the most likely direct source, the existence of an anchorage at Zygi-Petrini, at the mouth of the valley, would suggest that this was perhaps the entrance for goods imported directly or trans-shipped intra-regionally from other parts of Cyprus. Zygi-Petrini has also produced evidence of late antique activity, including an unpublished kiln discovered nearby in 1996, associated with late Roman amphora sherds.
Apart from the press mentioned above, two residential quarters were identified, as well as a building of uncertain function (public or private?) in Area VI; three basilicas were also excavated. The architecture and decoration of these churches, all rather small timber-roofed three-aisled structures built during the sixth and early seventh century, suggest a prosperous, although not exceedingly wealthy community. The raw materials used for construction were locally available; nevertheless, small quantities of marble were imported for the opus sectile floor of the basilica in Area V and for the altar table of another in Area II, whose bema had a polychrome geometric floor mosaic. Numerous tesserae recovered during the excavation, including glass and gold examples, indicate that the apses of both churches were decorated with wall mosaics. Columns and capitals, however, were made of gypsum, and the floor of the Area I (Sirmata) basilica, standing together with an adjacent complex centred around a courtyard on a low mound at the edge of the settlement–identified as monastic–was paved with gypsum slabs (Fig. 6.2).72 The same local material was used in the Area II basilica to mould small, but elaborate relief panels, including a unique piece depicting an enthroned Virgin and Child.73 The precise function of these panels within the basilica's decorative scheme remains uncertain.
The survival of the rural community at Kalavasos-Kopetra was presumably dependent on short-distance trade: a ready market for its agricultural produce was available in the nearby port city of Amathus, easily accessible along a main road. In addition, the village had access to a harbour of its own. The latter's main function, however, was clearly linked to the copper mines situated 6.5 km to the north of the settlement, whose growth is surely at least partly due to the exploitation of the area's mineral resources. The brief flourishing of Kalavasos-Kopetra as a modest provincial

centre was halted in the mid-seventh century: the monastic complex has produced evidence of violent destruction followed by abandonment, while the two other basilicas were replaced by small chapels occupied until the eighth century, when the whole area was definitively abandoned.
At Cape Drepanum on the west coast of Cyprus, 21 km to the north of Paphos, several sections of an important settlement, which was founded in Hellenistic times and flourished in Late Antiquity, were discovered in the early 1950s and are still being excavated. The rather remote site, whose ancient name once more eludes us, lies off the main Roman road connecting Paphos to Arsinoe through the hills. A secondary road, however, that starts at Cape Drepanum and heads north along the coast towards the small late antique settlements of the Akamas peninsula, has been identified by the Danish survey team. It has been cautiously attributed to the Roman or early Byzantine period and must have extended south of Cape Drepanum too, linking up with the Paphos road.74 The structures excavated so far include three sixth to early seventh century basilicas, a large complex with an atrium, which has been tentatively identified as episcopal, a baptistery with its own small transept basilica nearby (a unique feature in Cyprus), a small bath, an olive press among the annexes of one of the basilicas, two cisterns, and Roman tombs which were reused in later centuries. On the small rocky island lying 300 m off the coast, another sixth century cistern and a reservoir have been excavated. What distinguishes the churches of this settlement from those of other rural sites, such as Kalavasos, is their lavish decoration: all basilicas employ columns, bases and capitals of Proconnesian marble, while their floors are adorned with mosaics; in addition, the transept basilica of the baptistery incorporated figural wall opus sectile depicting standing saints.75
The imported marble obviously arrived by sea. The latter's role in the settlement's life is illustrated by the inscription on the ambo of the baptistery basilica, also made of Proconnesian marble and dedicated by a ship's crew. The layout of the baptistery itself, with the font placed centrally in a porticoed hall, is distinct from that of similar structures elsewhere on the island, which belong to the processional type where the font is on the side (Curium, Salamis, Carpasia), and resembles Aegean examples (Fig. 6.3).76 On the other hand, links with Alexandria may be suggested by a flask recovered during the excavation, which bears a depiction of Saint Menas, at whose shrine, as we have seen above, Cypriots were frequent visitors. Yet, no harbour has been identified along the coast below the settlement, although this is probably due to erosion and the condition of the sea-bed, disturbed by modern dredging carried out during the construction of a fishing harbour. Nevertheless, an underwater survey carried out in 1983–84 along 13 km of coastline to the north and south of Cape Drepanum revealed several sites with late antique material (Kerati, Thalassines Spilies, Lara), including sixth/seventh century amphorae.77
The ostentation of Cape Drepanum's churches in spite of its remote location, the evidence for its links with the outside world, the lack of any readily identifiable local source of wealth, and its apparently peaceful abandonment in the early seventh century–combined with the lack of evidence for violent destruction usually linked in other Cypriot sites with the mid-seventh century Arab raids–have prompted the suggestion that the settlement functioned as a stopover along the grain route from Alexandria to

Constantinople. When the grain shipments were interrupted in the wake of the Persian occupation of Egypt in 618/19, Cape Drepanum lost its alleged raison d'être and declined rapidly and irrevocably. This, at least, is the opinion of the current excavator of the site,78 which must remain conjectural in view of the lack of firm evidence, either textual or material. That the settlement was indeed to a large extent dependent on the sea is beyond doubt, but whether this dependence took this particular form remains to be seen.
A few miles to the north of Cape Drepanum, the University of Aarhus team, which surveyed part of the Akamas, also excavated a small late antique rural settlement at Ayios Kononas in 1989–91. The site, provided with a perpetual spring, lies about 1.7 km from the west coast of the peninsula on a late Roman road (fourth century?) that connected it with the Cape Drepanum settlement and the main Roman road to Paphos and beyond.79
The earliest structure excavated is dated by numismatic evidence to the fourth century and has been tentatively identified as a villa rustica. A metal slag deposit nearby, together with traces of furnaces and charcoal (dated by accelerated radiocarbon to the third/fourth century), suggest that some copper smelting activity was conducted on a small scale, presumably covering no more than local demand for metals employed in the manufacture of agricultural implements and household items.80
The settlement grew considerably during the fifth/sixth century, when the villa rustica was altered and several houses were built. Five have been partly excavated, showing that they sometimes had an upper storey. A church was also added in c. 600, built of limestone extracted from a quarry on the site itself, although by this time the settlement was already in decline. The mouldings in the three-aisled structure bear so many similarities to those of the Cape Drepanum basilicas that they have been attributed to the same workshop. The Ayios Kononas basilica is, nevertheless, a much more modest affair, with furnishings and architectural elements made of local materials and employing no imported marble.
Around 90% of the dateable surface finds from the area of Ayios Kononas are attributed to the late Roman/early Byzantine period, and the excavated structures confirm that this was the period of peak activity on the site, which was abandoned in the course of the seventh century. Neither the church, which had collapsed by the eighth century, nor the houses have provided any evidence of violent destruction, the latter having been emptied of their contents before their abandonment.81 The underwater survey of the region's most important anchorage, however, at Kioni below Ayios Kononas, has yielded mainly Hellenistic and Roman pottery, suggesting that the sea was of no great importance to the early Byzantine settlement's economy. Nevertheless, some fishing implements found in a dump outside one of the excavated houses indicate that it was at least used as a source of food. Agriculture clearly remained the basis of the local, largely self-sufficient economy, shown by extensive terracing around the site.
The variety of regional economic patterns that our three examples of rural settlements illustrate, even within the confines of a relatively small area like Cyprus, cannot be detected by looking at the urban centres alone, for these usually offer a much more uniform picture. The village economy in each of the above cases was conditioned

by the locally available resources and, most importantly, by the degree of accessibility to a major urban centre and a harbour. Ayios Kononas provides the most extreme case of isolation, due to its geographical position and despite its access to both the sea and the island's road network. Its inward-looking economy was based on agriculture and on resources available in situ. Raw and building materials were locally extracted and processed, and no wish to emulate the opulence of nearby settlements like Cape Drepanum, that would require the import of luxury items and materials, can be detected in the architecture, decoration or contents of its buildings. This contrasts sharply with Cape Drepanum, which appears to have been much more dependent on the sea and contacts beyond the shores of Cyprus, turning its back on its hinterland. Kalavasos, on the other hand, although economically self-contained with its mineral, ceramic and agricultural production, and possessing its own harbour, was clearly integrated within a regional economy centred on the city of Amathus, developing a character far removed from the subsistence economy of Ayios Kononas.


1 Archimandrite Kyprianos, 1788 (repr. Nicosia 1971) (Venice), 100.
2 Hackett, 1901: 13–32; Hill, 1940–52: vol.1, 273–79.
3 For a discussion of the development of the Helena legend in Cyprus, see Kyrris, 1984: 24–30.
4 Mitford, 1980: 1295.
5 On the earthquakes and their impact, see Papageorgiou, 1993: 27–28 with further bibliography; Isaurian raids: Bidez, 1913: 139.
6 Chrysos, 1993: 8–9.
7 Michaelides, 1996: 143, who quotes as his source T. Potter's forthcoming chapter on Roman Cyprus in vol.2 of the History of Cyprus, edited by T. Papadopoullos and published by the Archbishop Makarios III Foundation (Nicosia); an earlier estimate of 500,000 is clearly over-optimistic: Beloch, 1886, 249–50.
8 de Boor, 1887: 143; see also Hill, 1940–52: vol.1, 281, and Kyrris, 1970: 157–81.
9 Constantia, Tamasos, Citium, Amathus, Curium, Paphos, Arsinoe, Soloi, Lapethos, Kyrenia, Kirboia (?), Chytroi, Carpasia: Burckhardt, 1893: 36; see also Hill, 1940–52: vol.1, 261–62.
10 Sodini, 1998.
11 Kyrris, 1984: 21–22.
12 The council of Serdica (343) was attended by twelve bishops from Cyprus whose sees are, however, not given: Mansi, 1901–27: vol.III, 69; according to the fifth century ecclesiastical historian Sozomenos, in Cyprus even rural settlements (komai) had bishops: Bidez and Hansen, 1960: 330.
13 Sodini, 1998.
14 The suggestion in Chrysos, 1984 that the section of the Salamis aqueduct financed by Heraclius was built at this time, is refuted in Sodini, 1998: 632–33, where a date in 631 is suggested, based on the reading of the indiction in the surviving inscription.
15 Texts in Delehaye, 1927: 25, and shorter version in Lappa-Zizicas, 1970: 277. Modern scholarship remains divided on the issue of Aspagourios' role and presence in Cyprus: according to some historians a Persian attack is quite likely: Chrysos, 1993: 12–13; Foss, 1975: 724 (attack dated to 617); Mango, 1984: 38–39; and Howard-Johnston, 1999: 33; other scholars, however, remain cautious: Hill, 1940–52: vol.1, 282; Festugière, 1974: 336; Déroche, 1995: 36, n.67; and Sodini, 1998: 622 and 632.
16 For returning captives of the Persians, see Festugière, 1974: 375–76; refugees in the 610s included Bishop Paul of Edessa: Honigmann, 1951: 20, n.5; see also Chrysos, 1999: 207–8 with more examples; for a slightly later reference to a Jewish slave escaping from his Arab masters on the mainland, see Flusin, 1991: 386 and 391.
17 Halkin, 1945: 56–64.
18 Dikigoropoulos, 1961: 24–26; see also JHS 71 (1951), 260; JHS 72 (1952), 117; JHS 73 (1953), 137.
19 Kazhdan, 1991: 570, with bibliography.
20 For late antique architecture in Cyprus, see Delvoye, 1972: 17–21; idem, 1980: 313–27; Megaw, 1974; Papageorgiou, 1985: 299–324, and idem, 1986: 490–504.
21 Megaw and Hawkins, 1977; Megaw, 1985: 173–98; Michaelides, 1992: 76 no.41, 93 no.51, 115–23 nos.67–71; Michaelides, 1993a: 265–74.
22 Catling, 1972: 1–82; Quilici, 1989: 7–23.
23 Hadjisavvas, 1991; see however Symeonoglou, 1972: 187–98, where it is argued that the late antique period witnessed a marked decline in occupation compared to Hellenistic and Roman times.
24 Catling, 1982: 227–36.
25 Knapp and Given, 1996: 334.
26 McClellan, Rautman, and Todd, 1993: 423; Todd, 1989: 41–50.
27 Aupert, 1996: 178.
28 Sørensen et al., 1987: 277; Rupp, 1987: 32; Lund, 1993: 139–43.
29 Fejfer and Mathiesen, 1991: 222; idem, 1992: 72–73; Fejfer, 1995: 24–25.
30 For an earlier general overview of the evidence for both urban and rural sites, see Papageorgiou, 1993.
31 Sources collected in Wallace and Orphanides, 1990: 54–55, 131, 146–50, 160–62, 224–25; see also Michaelides, 1996: 144–45, and Raptou, 1996: 249–54.
32 des Gagniers and Tinh, 1985: xxvii.
33 Knapp and Given, 1996: 302, 332–33.
34 As suggested for the Roman period in Mitford, 1980: 1331; for a reconstruction of the island's Roman road system, based on the evidence of milestones and the Tabula Peutingeriana, see Mitford, 1980: 1333–35 and 1340.
35 Childs, 1988: 130.
36 Fox, Zacharias, and Franklin, 1987: 169–84.
37 On Heraclius' Cypriot coinage, see Chrysos, 1984: 53–54, with bibliography. The mint was operating again on Cyprus in 626/627.
38 Muhly, 1996: 46.
39 Paschoud, 1971–89: vol.1, 94; see also Michaelides, 1996: 141–42 and 146 and Raptou, 1996: 254–56; on references to Cypriot timber by ancient authors, see also Thirgood, 1987: 70–76.
40 Wallace and Orphanides, 1990: 71–72, 162–63.
41 BCH 94 (1970), 219 [near Platres]; BCH 101 (1977), 716 [Ayios Theodoros]; BCH 107 (1983), 907 [Kambos Tsakistras]; RDAC (1977), 178–201 [Kakopetria]; RDAC (1987), 253–57 [Ayios Theodoros]; for a sanctuary dedicated to Zeus Labranios, and attested by an inscription found near Chandria at 1500m a.s.l. below the peak of Mount Adelphi, see Mitford, 1947: 206–8.
42 According to Strabo: Wallace and Orphanides, 1990: 131; the remains of some structures near Lagoudera, no longer visible, have been identified as a church (?) and a bath belonging to a late antique settlement: Winfield, n.d: 4.
43 Wallace and Orphanides, 1990: 131, 144–45. For a discussion of Strabo's remarks, see Thomsen's commentary in Fejfer, 1995: 31–33; for the Piacenza pilgrim's account, see Wilkinson, 1977: 79.
44 Michaelides, 1996: 142 and 146–47; Wallace and Orphanides, 1990: 24.
45 Van den Ven, 1953: 12–13, 53–56, 71–73.
46 Hadjisavvas, 1992.
47 BCH 113 (1989), 848; BCH 114 (1990), 951; Demestika and Michaelides, forthcoming; Peacock and Williams, 1986: 185–7; van Alfen, 1996: 189–213; Empereur and Picon, 1989: 242–43.
48 Hayes, 1972: 372–85, 420.
49 Festugière, 1974: 345, 362, 408–9.
50 ‘Sophronii monachi sophistae Narratio miraculorum Ss. Cyri et Joannis sapientium Anargyrorum’. In Migne, J.-P. (ed.) Patrologiae cursus completus, Series graeca, vol.87/3, col.3625, 3628, 3652–56; also in Fernandez Marcos, 1975: 370–72, 387–89.
51 Van den Ven, 1953: 81–82.
52 Dagron, 1978: 330–32, 390; the ships arriving from Cyprus carrying pilgrims to Thekla's shrine may have also been involved in trade between the island and Seleucia, according to Vryonis, 1981: 200–201.
53 Foss, 1996.
54 Williams, 1989: 27–28; interestingly, according to a recent study of the art of Anemurium, the mosaic pavements do not betray any particular affinities with Cypriot examples; see Campbell, 1998.
55 Hayes, 1972: 385.
56 Dagron, 1985: 435–51.
57 Hayes, 1972: 372–83; Hayes, 1980: 528.
58 Cheynet, Morrisson and Seibt, 199: no.138 [Tyre seal]; no.255 in this catalogue, also found at Tyre, belongs to the seventh century Bishop, Leo of Citium; Zacos and Veglery, 1972: no. 132 [Constantinople seal], and see p. 165–66 for a table of late seventh and eighth century seals of the apotheke of Asia; the seal from Cyprus, which is earlier than the ten specimens listed, is not included; Dikigoropoulos, 1961: appendix II no.38 [Cyprus seal].
59 Parker, 1992: nos.202, 203, 204, 206, 212 and 1145; the other Cypriot shipwrecks are either of earlier (Hellenistic/Roman) or uncertain date.
60 For a general survey of the evidence on daily life contained in seventh century Cypriot hagiography, see Yannopoulos, 1983: 79–85.
61 Van den Ven, 1953: 65, 92–95.
62 ‘Vita S. Epiphanii’. In Migne, J.-P. (ed.) Patrologiae cursus completus, Series graeca, vol.41, col.65.
63 Van den Ven, 1953: 89.
64 Flusin, 1991: 387.
65 Festugière, 1974: 368.
66 Houze, 1888: 95–144.
67 Lund, 1993: 138–39.
68 Megaw, 1974: 68; Michaelides, 1996: 139; Roux, 1998: 241; I am most grateful to D. Michaelides for comments on marble imports to Cyprus, for drafts of papers, bibliographical references and other suggestions.
69 BCH 120 (1996), 1088; on the Cape Drepanum churches, see below.
70 Michaelides, 1992: 8–9; see also Michaelides, 1993b: 69–114.
71 On the marble trade see Kapitän, 1980: 71–136, and Sodini, 1989: 163–86.
72 In addition to the bibliography in n.26 above and in the following footnote, see also Annual Report to the Director of Antiquities (1988), 50–51; Annual Report to the Director of Antiquities (1989), 55–56; Annual Report to the Director of Antiquities (1990), 54; Annual Report to the Director of Antiquities (1991), 60–61; BCH 113 (1989), 829–30; BCH 114 (1990), 967; BCH 115 (1991), 816–17; McClellan and Rautman, 1989: 157–66; Rautman and McClellan, 1987: 45–54; idem, 1988: 51–63; idem, 1991: 10–20.
73 BCH 116 (1992), 812–13; Rautman and McClellan, 1989/90: 24; idem, 1990: 238; McClellan and Rautman, 1991: 233–35 and fig. 5; idem, 1994: at 290.
74 Bekker-Nielsen et al., 1991.
75 Megaw, 1974: 71–72; Michaelides, 1992: 99–107 nos.56–60; Papageorgiou, 1993: 36; Annual Report to the Director of Antiquities 1991: 67; BCH 116 (1992), 831; BCH 121 (1997), 925–26 and 931–32; Bakirtzis, 1999: 35–48.
76 Michaelides, forthcoming; Megaw, 1997: 343–52.
77 Giangrande et al., 1987: 185–98; idem, 199–212.
78 Bakirtzis, 1995: 247–54; idem, 1997: 327–32; see also the forthcoming paper by the same author on recent excavations at Cape Drepanum, given at the Third International Congress of Cypriot Studies (Nicosia, April 17, 1996).
79 On the area's road system, see Bekker-Nielsen et al., 1991.
80 Fejfer and Mathiesen, 1991 and 1992; Fejfer, 1995; excavation reports in BCH 114 (1990), 983; BCH 115 (1991), 829–31; BCH 116 (1992), 828–30 and Annual Report to the Director of Antiquities, Cyprus (1989), Annual Report to the Director of Antiquities 63–64; (1990), Annual Report to the Director of Antiquities 62–63; (1991), 62.
81 Fejfer, 1995: 24, 86; Fejfer and Hayes, 1995: 62–69.


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Date: (unknown) . Author: Papacostas, Tassos..
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