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La lettera e il Leone: Venetian Epigraphs on Cyprus

Event Details:

  • Date:          Wednesday, 31 May 2023
  • Time:         Starts: 15:00
  • Venue:       You are welcome to join us at the Fresnel Auditorium at The Cyprus Institute. Live streaming is available here.

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This is the launch event for a new project entitled «La lettera e il leone» («The Letter and the Lion»), devoted to Venetian Renaissance inscriptions in Cyprus. The event will briefly introduce the project and its scientific goals, as well as the digital tools and technologies that we will adopt to offer new insights into the use of writing for public display as a means of self-promotion carried out by the Serenissima during its rule on the island.
The Project
The project' La Lettera e il Leone' investigates the Venetian epigraphic production in Cyprus, which combined the humanistic capital script of the Renaissance with the figure of the crowned lion of St Mark to emphasize the contribution of Venice to the political, urban, artistic and social life of the island. The 'letter' and the lion are the two visual elements that best identify the Venetian presence in Cyprus.
During Venetian rule, numerous public and private commemorative inscriptions were set on the island, promoting the activities of the Serenissima towards the local population, merchants, pilgrims and travellers. The monumental inscriptions of the Venetian period play a crucial role in the urban fabric of the two main cities of Cyprus, Nicosia and Famagusta, where they are located along the imposing sixteenth-century walls, on the fortifications, on the remains of public buildings and on other significant monuments related to Venetian power and identity. Their position well exemplifies the communication strategy implemented by the authorities of the Serenissima, thanks to the use of a symbology widely diffused throughout the territories of the Stato da Mar.
The goals
Our project aims to reconstruct the complex political, ideological and social structure that Venice adopted in Cyprus to promote a strong and successful image of its dominion through the use of writing. The morphology of the letters, the construction of the text, the decoration, and the location of monuments were the main elements adopted to mark a shift with the previous reign of the Lusignans, who mainly used the Gothic epigraphic script in their epigraphic production.
Thanks to a digitally driven approach, the project will collect data on all the Venetian public inscriptions of Cyprus in a new open-access repository, which will include information on the material features of the monuments, as well as on the historical-political and sociocultural context.
PI and Partners
Funded by the Veneto Region, the project is coordinated by Prof. Lorenzo Calvelli of the Ca' Foscari University of Venice with the scientific collaboration and contribution of The Cyprus Institute - STARC. In Cyprus, the project is also supported by the Italian Embassy and by other institutions, such as the Dante Alighieri Society and the Agios Epiphanios Academy, as well as the Department of Antiquities.


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La lettera e il Leone – Venetian Inscriptions in Cyprus

Project presentation: Lorenzo Calvelli, coordinator

The local partners and their contribution:

-  Italian Embassy
-  Dante Alighieri Society
-  Agios Epiphanios Academy
-  The Cyprus Institute - STARC


Venetian Inscriptions in Cyprus

The Material Data and their Socio-Cultural Context

M. Trentin - Venetian Inscriptions in Cyprus: A Visual Manifesto

L. Calvelli – Rediscovering the Epigraphic Legacy of Classical Cyprus in the Venetian Period: Genuine and Forged Inscriptions

The Project’s Approach:

Context Documentation:

Nicolas Loukas

Othello's Tower: digital documentation and visualisation

Material Documentation:

Ropertos Georgiou

Techical digital imaging methods for revealing, analyzing and documenting inscriptions

Data Management:

Avgoustinos Avgousti, Valentina Vassallo

The Database of Venetian Inscriptions

Archaeology, epigraphy and history at Sotira Ammochostou:

Diego Calaon, Lorenzo Calvelli

Dissemination and Outreach Activities

Lorenzo Calvelli, Mia Trentin



The event will be in English and the event is open to the public.
You can attend this event in-person.  Join us at the Fresnel Auditorium, at The Cyprus Institute Athalassa Campus. Live streaming is available here.
Images and/or recordings of our open public events may be used by The Cyprus Institute for dissemination purposes including print and digital media such as websites, press-releases, social media, and live streaming.


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