Culture Programme
Education and Culture DG
Progetto Ricerca Interesse Nazionale
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CRHIMA - CINP project

Cultural Rupestrian Heritage in the Circum Mediterranean Area

Common Identity - New perspective

Universitas Florentina



Knowledge, Conservation and Improvement of HAbitat RUpestrian MEditerranean

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Sculpture is very rare in rupestrian sites, as every cave is more ore less a sculpture work. Therefore, there are sculptures (mostly graffiti and engravings) in rupestrian churches of Cappadocia, Armenia and Puglia: they are mostly representations of symbolic animals, such as the peacock or the dove, and different kind of more or less elaborated crosses. Crosses are carved on the façade of churches or inside, in symbolic domes, inscribed in three concentric circles, which symbolize the Trinity.

The monogram Phòs Stauròs in Greek fonts is carved in the ceiling of many churches, especially in Cappadocia: it means “the Cross is the Light” or “Christ is the Light”.

Bassorilievi with sculptured icons are very rare: an example is in the rupestrian church of Filigheddu 1, in Sassari (Sardinia), where three faces (the Trinity) were carved in the arch before the apse during the Early Medieval period. In the parecclesion of Santa Maria di Costantinopoli in Castellaneta (Taranto) there are the rest of an altorilievo of a hooded face. Byzantine capitals are in the same church, with acanthus. Sculptured capitals are very common in the churches of Puglia, even if in more simple forms.

There are also more raw Early Medieval figures, as the saddled horse on the pluteus of the presbitery in the church of San Michele (Castellaneta), which cane be interpreted as the representation of the verses Bonum certamen certavi, cursum consummavi, fidem servavi, ‘I fought a good battle, I ended my race, I kept the faith.


Figurative arts

Migration of People