‘True wealth’ of Cyprus
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)