(CyI – the Cyprus Institute, Nicosia, Cyprus)

Keywords: 3D-GIS, 3D-models, iconography, byzantine

This paper proposes the use of an innovative 3D-GIS methodology to facilitate and enhance art historical research. Specifically, the use of the above-mentioned approach will help to explore aspects of the organization, reception and interpretation of decorative iconographic programs in the medieval and early modern churches of Cyprus. The 17th century church of St. John the Theologian in Nicosia, Cyprus will be the paper’s primary case study. The unassuming building has a single nave with a barrel vault and is richly decorated with wall paintings and portable icons resting on the lavish wood-carved iconostasis scenes spread all around the church’s surfaces. Having served as the seat of the Archbishop of Cyprus since 1730, the church’s painted decoration provides a key iconographic narrative full with political and ideological meaning.  A major art historical question regards the planning and reception of such iconographic programs in their diachronic socio-political context. Moreover, the issue of the program’s narrative and its intended audience provides additional levels of inquiry.
The paper describes a 3D-GIS based approach as a first step towards elucidating the above-mentioned questions. The interior and the exterior architectural components of the church were 3D documented (laser scanning and photogrammetry) and high-resolution images of the iconographic program were taken. A GIS environment was created based on this material, which was further separated in different layers and structured according to themes and elements of interest. Through attribute tables connected to the different layers of painted decoration, additional information was attached and queried at will. These characterizations where used to investigate how the positioning and the sequence of entire scenes, single figures or the direction of faces and eyes engaged the church’s audience.