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More than a church:
The archaeology of late antique basilicas and economic production in Cyprus
In late antiquity, Cyprus was a prosperous, independent island that was able to build its importance through diverse trade relations. Its socio-economic and cultural development was shaped by invasions and earthquakes, but also by trans-Mediterranean contact and the lively cult of saints from the earliest years of Christianity. As Christianity developed in the eastern Mediterranean, the Church established a great influence over the island, as evidenced by numerous large basilicas and the formation of many bishoprics.
Within Cypriot localities, both rural and urban, a strong connection between religious and secular buildings can be traced, indicating a strong influence of the church on the local economy. From an archaeological point of view, this phenomenon takes numerous forms and transformations. Both civic and religious monuments have been given archaeological attention in the past, however, the relationships between production sites and economic structures located close to churches have been neglected.
This paper studies ecclesiastical monuments in relation to agricultural and industrial facilities from the 4th to 9th centuries (the focus of the author’s doctoral dissertation). Particular focus is given to the dynamics between economic spaces and sacred architecture, and is organised by the type of product or industrial activity. By bringing together the fields of architecture, ceramics, numismatics, and landscape archaeology, combined with a consideration of the island’s late antique history and vitality, the role of the church and its influence before and after the 7th century Arab invasions is comprehensively presented.