The monuments of the Byzantine Empire stand as a testimony to architectural ingenuity. The history and development of such ingenuity, however, may often be difficult to trace, since this requires investigating ruins, peeling away centuries of renovations, and searching for new documentary evidence. Nevertheless, identifying the origins of specific innovations can be crucial to an understanding of how they later came to be used. In fact, ‘creative “firsts” are often used to explain important steps in the history of art’, as Edson Armi noted, adding that ‘in the history of medieval architecture, the pointed arch [and] the flying buttress have receive this kind of landmark status’.
Since the nineteenth century, scholars have observed both flying buttresses and pointed arches on Byzantine monuments. Such features were difficult to date without textual evidence, and so they were often assumed to reflect the influence of the subsequent Gothic period. Archaeological research in Cyprus carried out between 1950 and 1974, however, had the potential to overturn this assumption.