The numerous archaeological testimonies offer the image of a society still deeply rooted in Hellenistic culture and, in particular, influenced by Antioch, on which Cyprus moreover administratively depended as a province belonging to the Praefectura per Orientem. In the Justinian age Cyprus was directly subjected to the government of the imperial authority; Administrative emancipation soon followed religious emancipation: as early as 488, in fact, the emperor Zeno (474-491) had guaranteed the autocephaly of the Cypriot Church, previously subject to the metropolitan see of Antioch, granting the archbishop special privileges. Despite the laconic nature of the contemporary sources, the monumental vestiges and the remarkable archaeological finds of Cyprus show that the new and close link with Constantinople resulted in interventions of a certain importance in favor of the cities of the island, again affected by the earthquakes of 526 and 528, and determined a graft of updated artistic influences that went alongside, and in some case to overlap the prevailing Antiochian cultural matrix. In Salamis an inscription, datable between 542 and 543, recalls the ἀγαθοὶ βασιλεῖϚ Justinian and Theodora, to whom it is possible to ascribe the reconstruction of the great baths, which incorporated the remains of the ancient gymnasium, and the raising of arcades with marble supports; another column, placed in the center of the gymnasium, presumably had to support the effigies of the sovereigns. The reactivation of the thermal plants had to contribute to the restoration of the aqueduct that served Salamis, the only intervention in favor of Cyprus which in Procopio’s De Aedificiis (V, 9, 36) is attributed to the initiative of Justinian. initiatives in the religious field. 6 ° the Kampanopetra basilica was erected in the southern sector of the city, rebuilt by Costanzo after the 348 earthquake. already widely experimented in local early Christian architecture (basilicas of Kurion, Aghios Epiphanios in Salamis), but introduced some inflections of Constantinopolitan derivation (such as the ambo in the center of the nave) and was distinguished by the use of a sculptural furniture in imported Proconnesian marble. Paleochristians such as Aghios Epiphanios in Salamis and Aghia Kyriaki in Paphos (od. Nea Paphos). Newly built religious complexes have been identified near the od. village of Peghia. The three basilicas, built in different periods during the century. 6 °, betray, in the external facet of the apses, in the extension of the presbyterial area towards the naves and in the central location of the ambo, undeniable influences of Constantinopolitan religious architecture. In these churches the sculptural furniture is in Proconnesian marble with acanthus and Ionic tax capitals; the fact that similar furnishings meet in second-floor locations, such as Peghia, demonstrates that the island of Cyprus was now fully inserted in the network of large commercial distribution of marble artefacts and, as such, reflected even more particular items and updated of metropolitan sculpture (Pralong, 1990).
The introduction of these imported furnishings in the religious buildings of the island did not limit the local production of some specific decorative devices that had already characterized the appearance of Cypriot basilicas in the course of the century 5th: peculiar to Cyprus are, for example, the floor decorations in opus sectile with small elements, with the use of marble slabs sometimes alternating with limestone, Noteworthy are the coatings with marble slabs decorated in champlevé, a technique that came to Cyprus around the century. 5 ° through Antioch, but which here found particular application in extensive decorative programs, including coverings of portals, pillars, capitals, frames and figured friezes, in the basilica of Kurion and, to a lesser extent, also in Salamis, Paphos, Soloi, Lambusa and Amathus; in most of these basilicas, together with the remains of the slabs that decorated the lower part of the walls, many marble and glass paste tesserae pertaining to mosaic wall decorations have been found.The most significant artistic testimonies of the proto-Byzantine period are the remains of painting monumental; the dispersion of these survivals in remote corners of the island and the benefits derived from agreement ratified between the Byzantines and the Arabs in 688 – on the basis of which, for the respect of the state of neutrality, the edicts of the iconoclastic emperors did not know application in Cypriot territory – guaranteed the conservation of decorative complexes which, in addition to their high quality level, are of fundamental importance as precious relics of the Byzantine artistic heritage prior to the destruction of the iconoclastic age. 6 ° (Sacopulo, 1962), it is above all the mosaics of the apsidal basin of the Panaghia Kanakaria in Lythrangomi and of the Panaghia Angheloktistos in Kiti that deserve particular attention. In Lythrangomi the church received, in the first part of the century. 6th, an apsidal decoration consisting of an image of the Theotókos within an almond, seated on a throne, with the Child on her knees, in a frontal position and flanked by archangels. The theme of the Incarnation and the interpretation of some scriptural passages justify the inclusion of the Virgin within the almond, an element usually reserved solely for Christ, and fully accord with the eschatological context of the mosaic, whose definition also includes busts of the apostles decorating the intrados (Megaw, 1985a).
On the stylistic level, the limitations imposed by a simple and quick technique, based on the use of rather large tesserae mainly in glass paste – except for red, for which tesserae were used of pigmented white marble -, imply a reduction in the expressive range and in the rendering of the drapery, but they leave intact the body of the features and the impressionistic rendering of the figures. These aspects are even more evident in the apse mosaic of the Panaghia Angheloktistos in Kiti, dated towards the end of the century. 6 °, in which the Virgin and Child is found in the pose of the Odighítria, standing on a richly elaborated pedestal, between two archangels with extraordinary wings with peacock feathers. Compared to the previous mosaic, that of Kiti denounces an even more evident scarcity of material resources, verifiable by the massive use of artificially colored marble tiles, but also exhibits an even higher stylistic quality, clearly evident in the workmanship of the faces and other anatomical parts, made with very small tesserae, as in the elegance of the plumage of the angels and the softness of the chiaroscuro passages, all elements that refer to a local school of ancient tradition, still flourishing at the turn of the century. 7 ° (figures of saints and archangel in Kurion, praying at the Panaghia tis Kyras in Livadia) and whose influence is noticeable in the results of the later metropolitan painting (de ‘Maffei, 1974). 6th and the first decades of the following are dated the numerous and splendid gold and silver artefacts found in 1894 and 1902 near Lambusa, the ancient Lapithos. Alongside liturgical objects – such as the hexagonal silver censer (London, British Mus.) With the busts of Christ and saints within knotted medallions, dated to the empire of Phocas (602-610), or the golden medallion with the Virgin enthroned and with abbreviated scenes of the Nativity in the exergus (Washington, Dumbarton Oaks Research Lib. and Coll.), referring to the early years of the Mauritian empire (582-602) – the nine silver plates of various sizes with Stories of David (New York, Metropolitan Mus. of Art; Nicosia, Cyprus Mus.), in which David’s fight against Goliath is seen as an exemplary image of Heraclius’ victory over the Persians, excellent examples of revival of models of late antique courtly silverware, datable between 627 and 630 on the basis of the control marks impressed on the reverse and the ideological meaning underlying the Old Testament scenes. Such a high concentration of sumptuary objects of high artistic value and relative chronological homogeneity (between 580 and 630 ca.) leads us to believe that at that time Cyprus reached heights of particular wealth and prosperity and the hypothesis of the existence of a local manufacture, even if hardly acceptable, is not completely excluded. For Cyprus culture and traditions, please check animalerts.com.
Cyprus, which during the war with the Persians it was a precious strategic stronghold of the Byzantine defense, it had to surrender in the face of the waves of the Arabs: the defensive measures taken by Heraclius, such as the narrowing of the urban wall in Salamis or the introduction of particular tactical solutions in pre-existing walls, such as for example. in the enclosure of the kástron in Amathus (Megaw, 1985b), they could have little or nothing against the mighty Arab fleet which, under the command of Mu῾āwiya, made the first raid against the island around 649. In the following years the assaults multiplied, until an agreement was stipulated in 688 which guaranteed the neutrality of the island and the obligation for its residents to pay taxes both in Byzantium and Damascus. These years of great calamity profoundly shook the economic and urban framework of the island’s cities. The excavations clearly show that most of the sites experienced phases of abandonment around the middle of the century. 7th; the ruined churches were only partially restored, according to limited programs which included the replacement of columns with masonry pillars, as in the basilica of Lythrangomi, where the trussed roof was maintained; elsewhere, the roofs were replaced with wall vaults, for example. in two basilicas in Aphentrika, site where, in a slightly later period, the first domed roof was introduced in the church of Aghios Gheorghios. The early Christian basilica of Aghios Epiphanios in Salamis was instead abandoned and a small church with a wooden roof on pillars (later replaced by three axial domes) was built between the southeastern edge of the basilica and the baptistery. The demographic decline and the rapidity with which the abandonment process was carried out were such that already in the century 7 ° the city was known by the name of Ammochostos (‘hidden in the sand’), a name that passed to its residents even when they moved to the medieval site of the od. Famagusta.A. Paribeni name that passed to its residents even when they moved to the medieval site of the od. Famagusta.A. Paribeni name that passed to its residents even when they moved to the medieval site of the od. Famagusta.A. Paribeni.