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Reading Between the Lines: Facts, Tales and Misunderstandings Concerning Christian Monuments of Cyprus (7th-18th Centuries) Based on Travellers’ Texts

Charalampos G. Chotzakoglou - Byzantinologist, Hellenic Open University, Chairman of the Society of Cypriot Studies

 

Abstract

This paper examines the Christian monuments of Cyprus (7th-18th centuries) from the archaeological point of view, based on the results of accessing the new Zefyros programme.

Within this framework the paper examines travellers’ texts: a) as sources for oral traditions, which were gradually turned into ‘historical facts’ about medieval Cyprus (e.g. St Catherine’s prison in Engomi, near Famagusta); b) as testimonies of the travellers’ routes to monuments, confirmed through other sources (e.g. graffiti on monuments, written testimonies); c) as sources of information for incidental or contemporary recorded facts, often unique, taking into consideration the possibility of their proper comprehension by the traveller (e.g. description of funeral practices, which happened to be observed during the visitor’s stay in Cyprus); and d) the degree of influence between texts of the ancient Graeco-Roman world and the medieval travellers’ testimonies, as well as the cases of presenting information copied from older texts (e.g. texts by ancient writers) as contemporary. References will be made to specific texts that include either fictive information or accurate testimonies, and tools to verify their authenticity will be presented.

 

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