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The life histories of statues in the public baths of Salamis, Cyprus

Strand Campus , London

12 Nov cyprus salamis baths Part of CHS Late Antique & Byzantine Seminar Series (Autumn)

Panayiotis Panayides (Oxford)

The excavations at the public baths of Salamis uncovered a great number of statues in a variety of contexts: fallen in front of their bases, re-used in secondary structures, jettisoned in pools, sealed into a drain, built within walls or shattered into pieces close to kilns. The building had already taken its definite form by the mid-to-late fourth century; it nevertheless experienced a busy period of maintenance, repairs, and redecorations until it ceased to function as a bathing establishment in the late seventh or the early eighth centuries. Most of the statues are works of the Flavian to the early Antonine periods – apart from a number of female portrait statues, the bathers were predominantly surrounded by mythological statues. Some obviously belonged with the first phase of the complex in the second century, but others were certainly transferred at some point from other buildings.

This talk explores the life history of the statues during the long late antique phase of the establishment by re-siting the sculpture in their architectural and urban contexts. The major reconstruction of the complex in the mid-fourth century, preceded by earthquake damages, will be taken as a starting point. The high level of find information we possess for the majority of the statues allows for a reconstruction of their display settings. This, in turn, permits to envisage what the late antique viewers experienced upon visiting the establishment and brings into sight changes and continuities in the statuary landscape of the building over a period of five centuries of intense and uninterrupted use.

Panayiotis Panayides is currently a British Academy Postdoctoral Fellow at the University of Oxford and a Junior Research Fellow at Corpus Christi College, Oxford. His project investigates the complex lives of statues displayed in public bath buildings in the Late Roman Empire (fourth to seventh centuries AD). Panayiotis began his studies at the University of Athens, Greece, where he read Classics. He then continued his studies at Durham University with an MA in Roman Archaeology and a PhD with a thesis entitled The fate of statues: A contextualised study of sculpture in Late Antique Cyprus, which he is currently revising into a monograph. He has also worked at the Department of Antiquities of Cyprus in the framework of the ‘Cyprus Archaeological Digitisation Programme’.


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