Masons at Work

Charles Anthony Stewart
University of St. Thomas
Flying Buttresses and Pointed Arches in Byzantine Cyprus
Architecture on Cyprus endured many natural and man-made disasters. As a response the Cypriot builders developed new methods of maintaining older constructions. Perhaps the most innovative project concerned the waterworks for the capital of Salamis-Constantia. The renovation of its grand baths, reservoir, and aqueducts systematically employed flying buttresses and pointed arches. These additions were clearly dated by inscriptions to the early seventh century and verified by coin evidence. Both architectural forms continued into the Middle Byzantine period. For example, the flying buttress at the Panagia Phorbiotissa (Asinou) seems to have a late eleventh-century date. Because tradition maintained the sacredness of location (άγιος τόπος), builders rarely demolished older churches. And so, pointed arches were often added to undergird earlier transverse arches, as at SS Barnabus and Hilarion (Peristerona). Later on, pointed arches were conceived in the original designs of the domed-octagon churches. This architectural history demonstrates how renovation led to innovation.

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