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Article

Mary Gough

[Koca Kalesi]

Early Christian monastery on the southern slopes of the Taurus Mountains in Isauria, part of the Roman province of Cilicia in south-western Turkey. It is some 300 m above the main road between Silifke (anc. Seleucia) and Konya (anc. Iconium), 21 km north of Mut (anc. Claudiopolis). From two funerary inscriptions, pottery and coins, the monastery may be securely dated to the reigns of two Isaurian emperors, Leo (reg ad 457–74) and Zeno (reg 474–91).

The monastery was originally founded in a series of caves in a limestone outcrop at the west end of a narrow mountain ledge. The largest of these caves contained two rock-cut churches. The ledge was later enlarged by quarrying to the north and by the construction of a retaining wall to the south. The earliest building, immediately to the east of the caves, was the three-aisled Basilica. It was originally lavishly decorated, both inside and out, with architectural sculpture in a flowing naturalistic style, including plant forms, birds and fishes; figures occur only on the jambs and lintel of the main doorway between the narthex and the central aisle. On the west side of the lintel is a head of Christ set in a circle supported by angels, and at each end of the lintel and on the doorposts are four busts in high relief, possibly of the Evangelists. On the inner faces of the jambs are full-length figures of the archangels Michael and Gabriel in flat relief, while on the underside of the lintel is a remarkable relief of the four ...

Article

Mark Whittow

[Turk.: ‘The Thousand and One Churches’]

Group of late Roman and Byzantine sites on the Karadağ, an isolated mountain in the plain north of the Taurus Mountains in the modern province of Karaman in south-central Turkey (Roman and Byzantine Lykaonia). The mountain has been convincingly identified as the site of Barata, a minor city attested as a bishopric from the 4th century ad to the 12th. On the mountain there are the remains of over 40 churches and associated buildings. These are concentrated in two groups: a lower settlement now known as Maden Șehir and an upper settlement called Değler. There are also numerous other remains on the Karadağ, including some Hittite rock carvings, several churches built on the peaks of the mountain and several medieval fortifications.

Although known to scholars since 1826, the first and only survey of the Karadağ was that carried out by Sir William Ramsay (1851–1939) and Gertrude Bell in ...

Article

Roger Stalley

[Gael. Cluain Moccu Nóis]

Monastery in Co. Offaly, Ireland. Clonmacnois was one of the most celebrated Early Christian monasteries in Ireland, famed for its learning and artistic patronage and best known today for an outstanding collection of monuments and stone carvings. The monastery was founded by St Ciaran in 548 (or 545 according to some authorities) on a commanding site above a bend in the River Shannon. Located in the heart of the country, it enjoyed the patronage of a number of Irish dynasties and benefited particularly from the O’Conor kings of Connaught, several of whom were buried there. What started as a small religious community became the core of a monastic city, with much commercial activity and hundreds of lay inhabitants (in one incident in 1179 no fewer than 105 houses were burnt). Associated with the monastic workshops are such major items of Irish metalwork as the shrine of the Stowe Missal (...

Article

Sarah Morgan

Type of structure, usually associated with the Early Christian and Eastern Churches, that is found where volcanic rock is soft enough to carve or where natural caves occur. This includes parts of southern Italy (e.g. Basilicata and Apulia), Greece (e.g. Meteora), Turkey (e.g. Cappadocia; see Cappadocia §2, (i), (a); and Beşparmak), Cyprus (St Neophytos Monastery), Ethiopia (e.g. Lalibela), Georgia (David Garedzhi), Romania (Basarabi-Murfatlar), Bulgaria (e.g. Ivanovo), and the Crimea (near Chersonesos). The churches and dwelling places created in these areas survive in a variety of forms: part-natural cave, part-built, or wholly carved from the rock, with some churches so carefully shaped and finished as to resemble built architecture. From the Early Christian period caves and rock-cut dwellings were popular with hermits and saints as retreats. In some cases communities formed around a saintly figure, and monasteries were established with living spaces, refectories, chapels, and occasionally a larger congregational church. Several texts of saints’ lives, such as that of ...

Article

Susan Young

Byzantine monastery c. 8 km north-east of Paphos in Cyprus. In 1159 the founding hermit Neophytos (b 1134), originally from the island, transformed a natural cave into his retreat, and by c. 1200 a community had grown up around the site. Much of the original coenobitic complex, the Enkleistra, including Neophytos’ cell, a tomb chamber, a chapel and a sanctuary dedicated to the Holy Cross, has survived, together with the decoration. Neophytos’ revised Typikon of 1214 and several of his writings on the organization and development of the community have also been preserved. The katholikon is a domed basilica dating from the first decade of the 16th century.

In 1183 the cell, tomb chamber and sanctuary were painted by an artist who signed himself Theodore Apseudes. The fine quality of the frescoes, which were executed in the ‘Rococo’ style, points to his connection with a major artistic centre, possibly Constantinople. There can be little doubt, however, that the subject-matter and the locations of the paintings were chosen by Neophytos. Many of them reflect his preoccupation with death and salvation, and it has been observed that some convey a more potent message than is immediately apparent from the accompanying texts. In the cell the most striking image is that of the ...