The Churches of Kythera: How the People of Northern Kythera Used Churches as a System of Defense during the Late-Byzantine and Venetian Periods

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The Ohio State University

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This study focuses on the geographic significance of churches constructed on the Greek island of Kythera between the 10th century and mid-16th century. Close analysis of the churches in the northern half of the island shows that these structures, along with their spiritual functions, were often used in tandem with defensive structures or as defensive structures themselves. These religious buildings performed the role of watchtowers, or viglae. This conclusion is based on the geographic relationships between the churches and the villages, roads, and coasts, as well as by the architectural features of several of these sites. This thesis also argues that the churches and the saints associated with them provided divine protection for the Kytheran people. This is made evident through studying the dedications of these churches, as well as the frescoes on their walls and the written narrative sources. Finally, I suggest some avenues for future research both in southern Kythera and in the southern Peloponnese, and how these areas can be reanalyzed in light of my research.



Kythera, Churches, Saints, Protection, Watchtowers