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Spätantike Kapitellausstattungen in Zypern. Das Thermen-Gymnasium von Salamis/Constantia und der Forumbereich von Kourion
This is the first comprehensive study of the 69 marble column capitals of Corinthian order at the forum of Kourion and the baths-gymnasium complex at Constantia. The study has verified that the baths were restored following the earthquake of A.D. 342, as was formerly shown by epigraphic evidence, and a precise result was attained. Furthermore, our study identified another phase of the forum of Kourion in the fourth century, possible before the earthquake of 365.

The origins of the baths-gymnasium complex go back to the Hellenistic period, and it underwent many repairs. Its symmetrical interior layout resembles that of the baths at Humaitepe in Miletus. According to V. Karageorghis, the building was repaired after the earthquakes of 332 and 342 in order to function as baths again. T. B. Mitford dates this process to the reign of Constantius II/Constans based on epigraphic evidence. The Corinthian capitals at the palaestra should date to the third century and been brought from the nearby theatre, according to Karageorghis. According to D. Christou, the Severan forum and adjacent baths at Kourion lost their original functions after the earthquake of 365. The Corinthian capitals of the forum belong to the Severan period, like the last phase of the baths. However, Christou does not comment on which phase of the baths the capitals belong to or whether they are related to a change of function in the early Christian period.

The earliest capitals among the 46 from the east palaestra of the Salamis baths, and 23 from the Kourion forum are those six capitals of Trajan’s reign given in cat. no. 2 of the gymnasium group. These capitals are parallel to those of the Traianeum at Pergamon. The capitals of Hadrian’s reign at the Asklepieion of Pergamon closely parallel those of the Severan period capitals (Freyberger 1990, nos. 302, 304-305).

This author believes that the 14 capitals in cat. nos. 7, 9, 21, 22 and cat. nos. 4, 5, 6, 12, 14 represent the Severan period in the third century. All of these capitals are either exact or slight variations of Severan forms (Freyberger 1990, nos. 302, 304-305, 308) based on their singular leaves and eye formations. Some earlier forms from Late Antiquity in another publication (Freyberger 1990, no. 303) should be included here too.

The fourth century is represented with superficial variations of Severan period form (Freyberger 1990, no. 308). Twenty-one capitals from the gymnasium and from Kourion are included in group nos. 3, 10 and 17. These were published by J. Kramer, R. Kautzsch and B. Brenk and have a leaf style with less pointed tips, as seen in the fourth-century capitals from Antalya and Egypt.

In Cyprus these capitals are found only in their original places in civic buildings. E. Kitzinger had published one capital of this style from Kourion and dated it to the fourth century. However, no concrete dating for the baths palaestra has been attained yet. The inspirational source for the leaf style of these capitals may be the land of the Nile with three parallel examples from Egypt. Thus these capitals can be another piece of evidence for the long-lasting influence of Egypt or Alexandria over Cyprus during the Roman Imperial period.

On the other hand, the fourth century distinguishes itself among the successors of middle imperial-period sculpture. Capitals of oriental origin published by J. Kramer in connection with two statues in Cologne and another one (Freyberger 1990, no. 303) can be assessed within this frame. Twenty capitals in group nos. 11, 15, 18-20 from Constantia and Kourion are comparable with these forms.

There are two capitals of the fifth century at the piscina in the south-east corner of the palaestra; parallels are also found at the Kampanopetra Basilica. These capitals represent a variation of the “acanthuses with eyes and large leaves”. These examples should be considered a local variation due to lack of parallels in Rome. They are grouped by R. Krautzsch typologically as “capitals with fleshy leaves” and “lyra-shaped capitals” in his fourth and sixth groups.

Capitals at Constantia and Kourion are quite similar and reminiscent of a type of capitals of Late Antiquity. Two groups from Cyprus reflect to a great extent the features of a series of fourth-century productions and some reused earlier examples. Capitals of the Severan period are not found among those here.

The earthquakes of 332 and 342 affected Salamis greatly. Epigraphic evidence shows that the baths in the baths-gymnasium complex as wellas the city underwent extensive repairs during the reign of Constantius II/Constans. Some capitals of the palaestra, particularly those of group 10, should have been produced after 342. That the baths were in partial use in the fifth century is attested by epigraphic evidence as well as the two limestone capitals in the piscina in the south-east corner of the palaestra. Due to absence of earlier examples as in gymnasium group 2, the 23 capitals from Kourion reflect the workmanship of Late Antiquity more comprehensively. Study of the capitals datable to the first half of the fourth century reveals another building phase of the post-Severan period. Considering that the capitals belonged to the period when the baths were in use, a similar chronological distribution indicates that the baths were contemporaneous. On the other hand, if the capitals belong to the time when the function changed in early Christian period as Christou suggested, then we have to date their reuse to after 365 at the earliest. In this case these capitals might have originated from the earthquake rubble of the ancient forum.

Dr. Marko Kiessel,
Faculty of Fine Arts
Cyprus International University, Lefkoşa, North Cyprus
E-mail: mkiessel@gmail.com

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