Venice and Cyprus: the Archaeology of Cultural and Economic Relations

Due to its geopolitical situation at the crossroads of civilisations, contact and exchange between foreign influences and traditional culture formed the history of Cyprus through the centuries. The island thus presents a clearly defined field of observation for the study of cross-cultural processes. In earlier phases of the island’s medieval history, discussion focusses on the interaction of Eastern and Western traditions with the Byzantine cultural legacy. But with the rule of Venice the problem of cultural relations and interactions assumes a new and different quality. Frankish Cyprus maintained contacts less with medieval France (although the Lusignans were of French origin) than with the multi-cultural world of the Levant. During the centuries of Lusignan rule Venetian influence is already noticeable, but remains on the whole restricted to the field of economy – as could be demonstrated by the Corner della Regina family which built their power base in Cyprus, beginning with Giorgio Corner. But towards the end of the 15th century relations with Italy and the western countries become markedly closer – stimulated by the continuous intense relations of the Venetian governing class with the centre of the stato del mar. Interactions with and impact of the European West thus become a prominent focus of interest in the study of society and culture in Cyprus during the Venetian period. The comprehensive term "Venetian" covers the various impacts of Italian influences which came to bear on Cyprus through the presence of Venice.