Some remarks on the layout of buildings in the Athonite "Metochia" of late Byzantine Lemnos

AGGELOS GOUMATIANOS

Abstract


 

On the island of Lemnos during the Late Byzantine period the land property of each athonite monastery is organised in agricultural units (metochia) that constitute their main supply source of essential products.
The architecture of metochia generally describes a group of buildings that serves various purposes: housing, defense, production, manufacture and storage. According to monastic documents the metochia of Lemnos are a com­­plex with chapel, residences, mills, wine vats and storehouse, organised around a courtyard enclosed by a simple stone wall or, occasionally, by a for­ti­fied enclosure (kastellion, kastellos) with tower (pyrgos). Towers were used as refuges in case of raid, as observation posts (vigla) but mostly for the sto­rage of agricultural products.
The chapel serves the religious needs of the monks and laymen, because me­tochia are small monastic foundations. The courtyard provides space for the movement of people, animals and loads, while offers a shelter in case of threat, when it is surrounded by a fortified enclosure. There are resindences for the monks (kellia)probably of two storeys (anogeokatoga)and laymen (oikimata) next to the complex. Nearby wine vats are built or watermills or windmills for the proccessing of the agricultural production. There is also a fountain for water supply. Appropriate places (mandrostasia, mandres) are used for animal husbandry, e.g. goats and sheep.
The monasteries maintain metochia also inside the urban centres of Lemnos, e.g. Palaiokastron, Kotzinas, with two-storied residences and chapel around a closed courtyard. Furthermore, similar properties kept in the com­mercial district (emporion) extra muros and together with harbour in­stal­lations (skala), ensure the unhindered transportation of agricultural pro­duc­tion from metochia to the monasteries in Mount Athos and the distribution of production surplus to the nearby markets.


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