Some Selections from the Archbishop Makarios III Byzantine Musem in Nicosia, Cyprus

On the Greek side of Cyprus’s divided capital, Nicosia, there is a Byzantine Museum within the palace complex of the archbishop (see here), containing art works from the 9th century to the 19th.


I figured that my loyal reader(s) might want to see some selections of what’s in there as of 2016.

Interestingly, many of the works in here have come from churches in the northeastern part of the country, which, depending on whom you ask, is either the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus or the Turkish-occupied section of Cyprus. Sadly, these were largely looted and stripped from these churches and sold, often abroad, before being repatriated.

As it would make little sense to send them back to their places of provenance, they are displayed here. In one particular case, the veneer of a small, looted chapel is almost completely reconstructed onto specially-shaped walls of the museum.

Continue reading

Byzantine Monastery Unearthed in Beit Shemesh, Israel

IMG_0528 ~As reported by Haaretz, archaeologists have uncovered what appears to be a major Byzantine-era monastery during pre-construction excavations at Beit Shemesh, Israel.

In an exciting development, the excavation includes “extraordinary mosaics” covering the floors of the church. These mosaics include some figures and motifs that seem to be very unique to the area.

Archaeologists said they found a major early Christian church, based on the discovery of extraordinary mosaics, crucifixes and iconic Christian architecture at a site in the central Israeli town of Beit Shemesh.

Based on the ceramic finds and coinage, the church was probably built in the 4th century C.E., and survived – even expanding, it seems, into a whole monastery complex – for about 300 years, through to the 7th century.

The monastery was used for 300 years, but apparently abandoned in the 7th century. Almost certainly its decline was directly due to the Muslim conquest of the area, roughly contemporaneous with its decline. However, it is suggested that the decline was not due to persecution per se by the Islamic conquerors, but rather by the monastery’s removal from the Byzantine sphere of economic influence and – critically – the financial support of the empire.

Continue reading