My main focus is a hitherto misunderstood carved armorial panel from the 16th-c. principal doorway of the now ruinous former Greek cathedral of Nicosia, Cyprus (known as the Bedesten). Starting with an examination of the attribution of its five surviving heraldic shields, I will be assessing prevalent views and will seek to offer alternative options on the premise that their identity is strictly local rather than Venetian, as hitherto assumed. Based on the likely hierarchical nature of such multiple armorial displays and on an overview of the evolution of heraldic devices on Venetian Cyprus, I will be looking at their use within the ecclesiastical sphere, among lay aristocratic circles and by secular institutions in an effort to decode the meaning of this most intriguing panel. The ultimate aim is to propose a new interpretation that has important ramifications for our assessment of the monument’s 16th-c. reconstruction and, crucially, of its most peculiar architecture.

Tassos Papacostas is Senior Lecturer in Byzantine Material Culture in the Department of Classics,  King’s College London. Having trained as an architect (DPLG Paris), historian (MA London), and archaeologist (DPhil Oxford), he subsequently worked for the Prosopography of the Byzantine World digital database (2001-2006) and published the online Inventory of Byzantine Churches in Cyprus (2015). His research and publications engage with the material culture and architecture of Byzantium, as well as aspects of art, archaeology and the built environment of Cyprus from Late Antiquity to the early modern period. More recent endeavors focus on manifestations of Venetian and Renaissance culture in the Eastern Mediterranean in conjunction with the survival and transformation of Byzantine traditions and practices into early modern times.

Respondent: Patricia Fortini Brown