The fourth and fifth centuries AD comprise a crucial transitional period in the history of Western Civilization. With the legalization and triumph of Christianity, the Roman Imperial world was, in time, entirely transfigured in all sectors of human life – the religious, the social, the political, and the economic. For the archaeologist in particular, the changes to the configuration and orientation of the urban space of the classical cities that abundantly dotted the shores of the Eastern Mediterranean are high upon this list of transformations. During these centuries, the classical city or polis of antiquity would begin to fade, giving way to the emergence of the Episcopal city that would long last into the Middle Ages.
Amidst this period of transition resides the ancient city of Kourion, located on the southern coast of the island of Cyprus. Having been destroyed in the late fourth century AD by an earthquake(s) and subsequently revitalized at the beginning the fifth century AD, the ancient city of Kourion uniquely stands as a site in which the transition of the city occurred swiftly, taking place within a matter of decades; in contrast to other cities in the Eastern Roman Empire, which experienced a gradual transformation in their composition and arrangement over the course of several centuries.
Arguably, one of the key monuments and sources of historical information concerning this period of transition at Kourion are the House of Eustolios and the opulent mosaics and tessellated inscriptions that adorn its floors. As this dissertation argues, these mosaics provide, from the perspective of the Christian inhabitants, a narrative of the transition of the city of Kourion from a classical city centered around Apollo Hylates and his nearby sanctuary to a Christian (or Episcopal) city centered around Christ and His Church. As such, the ultimate aim of this dissertation is to understand this stone-laid narrative by undertaking a contextual analysis of ix these mosaics and inscriptions through both archaeological and historical source material. By placing the House of Eustolios and its mosaics in their archaeological, historical, theological, and cosmological context, the narrative and symbolic intent behind the mosaics will be revealed; thereby providing insight into the manner in which the inhabitants of Kourion perceived the transformation of their city as well as providing a better understanding of the choices behind the marked and symbolic changes to the urban landscape of Kourion in the fifth century AD.
Carpenter, Clay, "The Ktisis of the Early Christian Kourion: The Cosmic Symbolism of the Mosaics in the House of Eustolios and the Emergence of Christian Kourion" (2024). Doctoral Dissertations . 1.