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Kamran Scot Aghaie, Chair CAL 528 | 204 W 21st St F9400 | Austin, TX 78712-1029 • 512-471-3881

Architecture and Assemblage at the Site of Polis-Chrysochous on Cyprus

Fri, September 27, 2013 • 5:00 PM - 6:00 PM • Texas Union, Eastwoods Room (2.102)

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Workshop on Late Antiquity
A lecture by William Caraher, University of North Dakota

The last three decades have been something of a golden age in the archaeology of Cyprus. From pioneering intensive surveys to meticulous excavations focused on rural sites that often fell outside the traditional scope of Mediterranean archaeological research, scholars of Cypriot archaeology have engaged current debates surrounding postcolonialism and hybridity, networks of exchange and connectivity, insularity, and the development of the ancient state. 

The theoretical innovation and methodologically significant fieldwork on Cyprus, however, has done little to project the island from the fringes of most archaeological conversations. While the marginal status of Cypriot archaeology might be understandable for earlier periods like the Cypriot Iron Age which many have seen as peripheral to larger trends in contemporary Aegean and Near Eastern societies, for later periods the robust and sophisticated assemblages produced by recent archaeological work present a solid platform for studying imperial administration, the Mediterranean economy, and the tensions between the local and the global in the context of empire.

This paper will take as a point of departure the ongoing work at the site of Polis-Chrysochous (ancient Arsinoë) on the western side of Cyprus where a team has worked to document both the architecture of one of two Early Christian basilicas and an associated assemblage of Late Roman ceramics. The architecture and assemblage from this site demonstrates the connections between the city of Arsinoë and other sites on Cyprus as well as southern Anatolia. 

At first glance, these links may appear an unremarkable consequence of the site's location, but the character of the basilica and the nature of the assemblage reveals more than simply geographic determinism and hints at the material manifestations of the human decisions that constitute culture. The significance of the past 30 years of field work on Cyprus, in this context, becomes clear as it provides an almost unparalleled potential to analyze the material culture of a series of related, yet distinct, sites in the ancient world. 

William Caraher is an Assistant Professor in the Department of History at the University of North Dakota. His primary teaching interests are Greek, Roman, and Byzantine History, and Early Christianity.  He also teaches undergraduate classes in historical methodology and a graduate seminar in historiography. He took his B.A. from University of Richmond in 1994 and his Ph.D. from The Ohio State University in 2003.  His dissertation focused on the influence of Early Christian ritual and architecture on ecclesiastical and social authority in 5th-7th century Greece.

Sponsored by: The Workshop on Late Antiquity is co-sponsored by Middle Eastern Studies, the Department of Art and Art History, the Department of Classics, and the Department of Religious Studies.


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