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by Archaeology Newsroom

The complex of St Luke of Stiris. Chronology according to structural facts

Discussing with friends the article on the “Complex of St Luke” (ΑΡΧΑΙΟΛΟΓΙΑ, 36. Sept. 1990) I detected an underestimation of the importance of structural remarks in framing the history and dating of the Complex. Thus, a reaffirmation of the proposed chronology, based only on structural remarks seems necessary. Reference will be made to the English Summary of the said article ipp. 29, 30), to the Vita of the Saint and to two papers dating the Catholicon to 1011, namely: “A propos de la date… etc”, Ca. Arch. XIX, 1969, and “Περί Μονής Οσίου Λουκά Νεώτερα”, Ελληνικά, 25, 1972. Features in the church of the Panaghia disclose remains of an older building, which can be no other than the church of St Barbara, mentioned in the Vita. Between the two existing churches, namely the Panaghia and the Catholicon, lies “space Λ”, housing the relics of the Saint. The said space, because of its decorated masonry, identical to and continuous with that of the Panaghia, is considered as contemporary to the latter. Other features, such as deviation “δ” (p. 30, col. 1) and a blocked former skylight, indicate that “space Λ” connected the “new” Panaghia to an older building. Other details, such as other blocked skylights and the plan of the Crypt, confirm the fact that the Catholicon has enveloped an older building on the same site, which should be identified with the Euktenon in the shape of a Cross, mentioned in the Vita.

Three facts, connected with the erection of the Catholicon, must be emphasized: (a).- The addition of an eastern cross-vault to “space Λ” (b).-the fact that the said cross-vault lacks decorations (“A propos… etc”, p. 131), and (c).- the fact that in the N.E. gallery, the wall of the Panaghia had to be demolished, to give the Catholicon its normal dimensions. These facts indicate that the Catholicon had to respect “space Λ”, which was already in existence and in use as a sanctified place of worship (p. 30, §IX). “Space” “Λ”, was designed, from the time of its erection (Ελληνικά, ρ. 308) to house the relics of the Saint. However, the said paper was composed when it was generally believed that “space Λ” formed part of the N.E. compartment of a totally “new” Catholicon, which replaced a modeste oratoire (“A propos.-. etc”, p. 128) or a small oratory (ένας μικρός “ευκτήριος οίκος”, “Περί Μονής” p. 300). The same papers rightly indicate that the translation of the relics into “space Λ” occured on the 3rd of May of 1011. This date was then accepted as the date of erection of the Catholicon, because “space Λ” was believed to form part of the latter. However, according to the new discoveries, “space Λ” was erected prior to the Catholicon, simultaneously with the Panaghia. Obviously then, the date of 1011 should be assigned to “space Λ” and accordingly to the Panaghia, as well.

As mentioned already in ΑΡΧΑΙΟΛΟΓΙΑ, p. 27 end of § μα1 and n. 80, the preponderance of structural facts should lead to a reexammation of ambiguous texts. Tentative Chronology

a. Si. Barbara, begun 946 (Vita) and was decorated plentifully (955 and after, 955-960?) (Vita).

b. Euktenon, some time after the above (960-965″?) (Vita).

c. Panaghia, finished shortly before 1011, having begun a decade (?) earlier (1000-1011?).

d. Catholicon, date uncertain, later than 1011 and earlier than 1048. Conclusion

It is obvious that the above tentative chronology, based solely on structural facts, coincides almost exactly with the one already proposed. A slight deviation is to be noted only in Irelation to the date of the Euktenon (“960?-965?” instead of “961-966”), as well as that of the beginning of the Panaghia (“1000?” instead of “after 997”).