The so-called Unidentified Church No 18. Observations on a minor urban church of the Middle Ages in Famagusta, Cyprus

The so-called Unidentified Church No 18. Observations on a minor urban church of the Middle Ages in Famagusta, Cyprus
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  2019Verlag Dr. Rudolf Habelt GmbH, Bonn The Many Face(t)s of Cyprus 14th Meeting of Postgraduate Cypriot Archaeology edited by Dorina Glörfeld, Kim Kittig, Bärbel Morstadt andConstance von Rüden  Universitätsforschungenzur prähistorischen Archäologie Band 324 Aus dem Institut für Archäologische Wissenschaften der Universität Bochum,Fach Ur- und Frühgeschichte 2019Verlag Dr. Rudolf Habelt GmbH, Bonn  57 The so-called Unidentified Church No 18 The so-called Unidenfied Church No 18. Observaons on a minor urban church of the Middle Ages in Famagusta, Cyprus Thomas Kaffenberger One of the most intriguing minor churches from the medieval period in urban Famagusta is the so-called Unidentified Church 18. Today, only the western façade and parts of the eastern apses remain. Through investigation of these remains and historic photographs from before the final collapse in the 1930s, the srcinal shape can be reconstructed. It is rather uncommon: the church consisted of a short nave with aisles, the laer covered with groin vaults, the former with a barrel vault interrupted by an octagonal dome. As the church possessed a clerestory in the nave, it was one of the few domed basil-icas on the island, the most prominent example for which is the Greek cathedral of Saint George in Famagusta. The church can be dated to the late 14 th  century, showing the typical style for this period, combining Gothic elements with a local ‘crusader style’. The church cannot be linked securely with a  building mentioned in the historical sources, but might tentatively be identified as the Greek monastery of Saint Symeon. Abstract Since the 19 th century, the unique state of preser-vation of the medieval old town of Famagusta has aracted the interest of scholars and trav-ellers alike. 1  While the other Cypriot urban cen-tres, such as Nicosia, Paphos or Limassol were devastated in earthquakes or largely lost their historic face in later phases of prosperity, Fama-gusta remained largely untouched between 1571 and the late 19 th  century. Neglect, lack of interest in refurbishing the site, and finally a protective paragraph of the Ooman law from at least the 18 th  century onwards prevented total destruction of the medieval buildings in Famagusta until the island was handed over to British administration in 1878 (Walsh 2010, 251–252). What the new government found within the Venetian walls was a unique, al-most uninhabited scenery with gardens, heaps of stones and ruined churches and palaces. While within the first decades of their rule the British authorities established a more formal bureau-cratic order and beer conditions for travellers, their appraisal of the unique ruins of Famagusta 1  For travellers’ accounts of Famagusta see Petry 2004, esp. 88–93; for the earliest scholarly publications L’Anson/Vach-er 1883 or the numerous publications of George Jeffery (a comprehensive list given in Pilides 2009). was patchy, at most. The exploitation of the city’s only ‘valuable’ resource – dressed stones – was discussed intensely and executed fiercely, in spite of the passing of the “Famagusta Stones Law” in 1891 (Walsh 2010, esp. 254–259). This wanton de-struction of the medieval heritage continued until far into the 20 th  century, when George Jeffery, Cu-rator of Ancient Monuments from 1903 until the foundation of the Department of Antiquities in 1935, slowly began to initiate restoration works. 2  Even if much has been lost, Famagusta today retains over thirty medieval churches, many of them ruined, and numerous remains of palaces. Thus, the city is a key example for the study of selement paerns and artistic development in an urban economic centre in the medieval Eastern Mediterranean.This notion is far from new: three conferences have recently been held on the topic of medieval Famagusta – all followed by proceedings – con-tributing to a far beer understanding of the city during its heyday (Coureas et al. 2012; Coureas 2  On Jeffery´s life and achievements see Pilides 2009. On restorations Uluca Tumer 2012, nevertheless much work remains to be done on the srcins of monument preserva-tion in Cyprus [see article ”Purifying the Medieval” by D. Konstantinidou in this volume].  58 Thomas Kaffenberger et al. 2014; Weyl Carr 2014). Economic relations and society structures have been investigated, as well as the large monuments such as the Latin and Greek cathedrals, the mendicant churches or the exceptional paintings preserved in some of the churches. 3  However, we know lile about the minor buildings, which form – in addition to the large cathedrals and Latin monastic buildings – the ‘skeletal structure’ of the sacral topography of the city. Camille Enlart, famous French art his-torian, was the first to contextualize the fragmen-tary and largely forgoen buildings that he found within the walls of Famagusta in his fundamental opus  “L´art gothique et la Renaissance en Chypre”  of 1899 (Enlart 1899, translated new edition En-lart 1987). Certainly not all of his identifications should be considered as trustworthy: for exam-ple, Enlart´s “ Nestorian ”  church is today thought to be a Jacobite or Maronite church and known 3  Apart from articles published in the above mentioned proceedings among others: Bacci 2009 on altars and litur-gical questions; Langdale 2010 on Venetian architecture in Famagusta; Olympios 2011 on the Franciscan Monastery. under its modern name of Saint George Exorinos (see most recently Bacci 2006 and Bacci 2014b, 235–238). Anyhow, Enlart´s results formed the working base for scholars for the next 100 years. It is therefore no coincidence that the few buildings labelled as “ unidentified church ”  in his volume – so those for which he did not find any histori-cal information or further context in addition to the sheer fabric – remained widely ignored in re-search until now. A medieval ruined complex in the south-west of Famagusta: the site One of the most complex and spacious among those six rather mysterious churches is the so-called Unidentified church No 18  , which will be the focus of this study (Fig. 1). 4  There is no source which would help to identify the srci- 4  The numbers used for the unidentified churches in Fama-gusta were introduced by Camille Enlart and will be used in this article in favour of later but less common names. Fig. 1 : Famagusta Old Town, Plan with Historical Monuments (1950).  59 The so-called Unidentified Church No 18 nal context and function of the material remains on site, so an investigation of these remains is the only promising way to obtain new results.The church faces a small road leading from the area of the royal palace and Ss. Peter and Paul towards the south gate and Ravelin (Fig. 2). Today, the site comprises the so-called Uniden-tified church 17  to the north [No.66 on Fig. 1], an empty field with a rather high eastern precinct wall and remains of a western wall towards the road, and Unidentified church No 18 as its southernmost medieval structure [67]. Church 17 is a medium sized single space church with a three-sided polygonal apse and very plain exte-rior and interior walls. 5  Today, all that remains are the walls up to the level of the (fig ural) vault corbels and fragments of a richly deco-rated western portal, but a drawing of French architect Edmond Duthoit, executed in 1862, shows a far beer, albeit already ruined state of preservation (Fig. 3). A steep gable (“ wimperg ”) with blind tracery and crockets still surmount the western portal; the upper part of the façade possessed an oculus and ended in what seems 5  On Church 17 see Enlart 1899, 383–384. to have been a belfry. 6  Between the churches 17 and 18, a closed precinct wall is visible on the drawing, but it is quite probable that already in 1862 the whole site had been heavily altered for domestic use. With a length of c. 16m and a width of 17m, Church 18 is a rather wide but very short building, a fact that points towards a dense occupation of the area with older build- 6  Bonato/Severis 1999, 197. The upper parts of this church were deliberately pulled down between 1862 and 1899, probably in order to sell the stone material. Fig. 2 : Famagusta Old Town, Aerial Image (2014). The Unidentified church 18 in front to the right. Fig. 3 : Famagusta, Unidentified Church 17 and 18, Draw-ing by Edmond Duthoit (1862).
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