Visiting Fellow, Spring 2020
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 endeavours 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.
My current research project explores aspects of the architecture of Cyprus under Venetian rule, an architecture fashioned out of a complex nexus of traditions encompassing a deep rooted local Byzantine culture, Gothic elements introduced in the Crusader period, and later on Italian and more specifically Renaissance input. At the heart of my investigation is a close analysis of a small number of church buildings in an attempt to account for their rather peculiar architecture. The evidence for the involvement of aristocratic patrons proves to be a key factor necessitating a reconstruction of their cultural outlook, for it is my contention that they largely determined the end result. This study will elucidate the role of buildings as products of selective cultural affiliation in connection with social aspirations and even political allegiances. It will shed fresh light on a key period in the history of Cyprus and Venice but also on the post-Byzantine world.