‘True wealth’ of Cyprus

Cyprus Today - - FRONT PAGE - By ANNE CANALP

MO­SAICS have been buried for the win­ter sea­son at the his­toric early Chris­tian basil­ica of Ayia Tri­ada, near Si­pahi, fol­low­ing clean­ing and sta­bil­i­sa­tion works by the Bi­com­mu­nal Tech­ni­cal Com­mit­tee for Cul­tural Her­itage.

The early fifth cen­tury ru­ined three-aisled church, one of the finest re­gional ex­am­ples, is named for the Holy Trin­ity and sits in an olive grove about 5km north-east of Ye­nierenköy.

Orig­i­nally topped by a tim­ber roof, around 70 per cent of the en­tire basil­ica’s mo­saic floor has sur­vived de­spite suf­fer­ing cen­turies of ex­po­sure to the el­e­ments, in­va­sive plant life and in­creas­ing tourist traf­fic.

The com­mit­tee’s Turk­ish Cypriot co-head, Ali Tun­cay, said the mo­saics would be pro­tected from win­ter rains and would be un­cov­ered again in April 2019.

Ayia Tri­ada is one of four sites on the north­ern shore of the Karpaz penin­sula sched­uled for preser­va­tion works by the com­mit­tee, largely funded by the EU via the United Na­tions De­vel­op­ment Pro­gramme.

A project at Ayios Philon had also been com­pleted, while the Dip­karpaz site of Ayios Ge­or­gios and Aphen­drika and Ayios Ser­gios in Taşlıca would be com­pleted next year, he added.

Mr Tun­cay said he pre­ferred not to re­veal bud­gets for the works as they had ex­pe­ri­enced com­plaints from com­mu­ni­ties who felt that they had been al­lo­cated less than oth­ers.

His co-chair, Takis Had­jidemetriou, said the Holy Trin­ity mo­saics were the com­mon cul­tural her­itage of all Greek, Turk­ish, Ma­ronite, Latin and Ar­me­nian Cypri­ots, adding that a mul­ti­cul­tural per­cep­tion of civil­i­sa­tion was the “true wealth” of the is­land’s Ne­olithic, Greek, Phoeni­cian, Ro­man, Byzan­tine, Vene­tian and Ot­toman her­itage.

Famed for two mo­tifs of san­dals, the Ayia Tri­ada floor also boasts a de­pic­tion of pomegranates and in­scrip­tions record­ing the do­na­tions of the Dea­con Her­a­clius and broth­ers Aetis, Euthalis and Eu­ty­chi­anos.

For­mer Eastern Mediter­ranean Univer­sity pro­fes­sor of art his­tory Al­lan Lang­dale said the site had been in peril for decades. Its de­signs were sim­i­lar to those of An­ti­och and of­fered fine ex­am­ples of wave, chevron, me­an­der and key borders and stel­late, rec­ti­lin­ear, and curvi­lin­ear de­signs in red, black, white, light and dark green and turquoise tesserae.

He added that early Chris­tians were once bap­tised into the faith by triple im­mer­sion af­ter de­scend­ing three steps into its crossshaped pro­ces­sional bap­tismal font and emerg­ing to­wards the ris­ing sun.

The mo­saics of Ayia Tri­ada

The Bi­com­mu­nal Tech­ni­cal Com­mit­tee for Cul­tural Her­itage team with com­mit­tee co-chairs Takis Had­jidemetriou (front left) and Ali Tun­cay (front right)

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