Thursday, January 10, 2013

Polis Pectoral

Congratulations to Amy Papalexandrou and Bill Caraher for their essay on the Byzantine phases of  Polis, the Princeton excavation in Cyprus, just hot off the press. My favorite objects in the catalog are the three pectoral crosses found in the proximity of the chest of three buried individuals. Amazingly enough, they are not made of metal or ivory but are carved stone (ca. 2-3 cm in size). What I love about them is their formal inventiveness that take the objects away from a singular reading. Yes, they are crosses, but they are also a whole lot of other shapes, too. That multiplicity demotes the singularity of the symbol and opens associations with other realms. I suspect that some of the grooves may have had some intricate interaction with the leather or cloth chain that would have wrapped them and held them around the neck.

Amy Papalexandrou and William Caraher, "Arsinoe in Late Antiquity end the Middle Ages," in City of Gold: The Archaeology of Polis Chrysochous, Cyprus, ed. William A. P. Childs, Joanna S. Smith, and J. Michael Podgett (New Haven, 2012), pp. 267-282.

Two of the crosses have been already published by Amy in the Curcic Festshrift, see:
Amy Papalexandrou, "Polis/Arsinoe: A Cypriot Town and Its Sacred Sites," in Approaches to Byzantine Architecture and Its Decoration: Studies in Honor of Slobodan Curcic, ed. Mark J. Johnson, Robert Ousterhout, and Amy Papalexandrou (Farnham, 2012), pp. 27-41.

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Kostis Kourelis

Philadelphia, PA, United States