Ciriaco (or Cyriac or Cyriaco or Cyriacus or Cyriaque or Kuriacou or Kuriakos or Kyriaci or Kyriacus ) was a Renaissance merchant who loved to travel (by ship throughout the eastern Mediterranean and its contiguous seas.)  He may have been the leading 'mover and shaker' among the 'powers that be' during the 15th century - just as the printing press was being 'invented'.  Thanks to his travels, discoveries and subsequent communications with the leaders of the era, he most likely instilled in others a 'born again' respect for things ancient and, more importantly, their preservation.

The Roman Catholic Church moved its headquarters back to Rome from Ravenna subsequent to Ciriaco's visits - it also restarted the preservation of ancient Christian archealogy and, thanks to the printing press, written history that had first been initiated, formally and legally, 11 centuries earlier by Damasus, the pagan child who eventually became the last Bishop of Rome (366-384) before the term 'Pope' was applied to that supreme leadership position within "The Church".  [ In other words, Cyriacus was a 'Community Activist' in the communities of ancient archealogy, both religious and secular, before anyone was aware there were such communities. ]

During his trips throughout the Mediterranean area, including Syria, Egypt, and Morea/Mani, Peloponnese, Greece, he sketched, collected, copied and wrote descriptions of as much as he could with the time he had.  If not the first, he may have been one of the earliest archaeologists in the world before that term was invented to describe their work.

Cyriac Family Newsletter article - December 1973
by John A. Ciriacks, PhD, Family Historian, Genealogist & World Traveler


MADISON, Wis.  Two articles discussing this very interesting, well-traveled man were found in the library of the University of Wisconsin.  Bernard Ashmole, a fellow of the British Academy, read a lecture, "Cyriac of Ancona", November 6, 1957 in London.  Mr. Ashmole defended Cyriac against critics questioning the authenticity of some of his drawings of ancient monuments in Egypt, Greece, and Italy.

Cyriac, who lived from 1391-1455, started traveling at age 9 with his maternal uncle, a merchant.  At age 30 he studied Latin, apparently in Rome where he made drawings of many of Rome's monuments.  Four years later Cyriac was in Constantinople studying Greek.  All this training got him into the Court of Sigismund at Siena.  And when Sigismund came to Rome for his coronation as Emperor, Cyriac was his guide among Rome's antiquities.  Two years later in 1435, Cyriac was back exploring in Greece and Egypt.

These travels and drawings were recorded in six volumes of Commentaries.  But in 1514 a fire destroyed the library in which the six volumes were apparently kept in the town of Pesaro.  Fortunately, some of Cyriac's friends, and other humanists** of the next generation, had copied some of his work.  Unfortunately, according to Ashmole some of the copying may not have been too accurate.  Thus, some critics have knocked old Cyriac's scholarly aptitude.  The purpose of Ashmole's paper was to show that Cyriac succeeded in making such a true record of objects that he occasionally puts later investigators to shame.  (Refer to Proceedings of the British Academy XLV, p. 25-41, 1959).

**FOOTNOTE: The term "humanist" during the Renaissance did not have the strong rejection of God connotation that exists in our time.  The humanist was concerned with the revival of classical letters and an individualistic and critical spirit, but he still maintained a faith, a trust, in the God whose son Jesus Christ was born to save man from his sinful nature.  (Refer to The Renaissance, Time-Life Books, 1960s).  (HUMANISM IN ITALY)

It is interesting to note that Cyriac signed his drawing of the Parthenon, Kyriacus Anconitanus.  In the literature, he is also called Cyriacus of Ancona and Ciriaco de' Pizzicolli.  The other article about Cyriacus and Albrecht Durer is in the "thick" German of the 1820s. 


The copying of is said by De Rossi (Inscriptiones Christ.  Urbis Romae, VII saec antiquiores, II, 377) to have been "the chief credit and undying glory of Ciriaco", according to the detail of that biography about him.  That bio also indicates Pizzicolli to be his family name as opposed to a reference to an area of Italy, presumably around Ancona.

Due to events subsequent to this death, his collection became scattered coincident with the destruction of many of the items he had documented.  Most were destroyed due to various and sundry wars occurring almost constantly in the area.  It's intimated that thanks SOLELY to his efforts, a lot of what's known about early Mediterranean monuments and inscriptions is based upon what's left of his work and to references to his work by others who managed to copy (a common practice before the advent of the printing press) some of Ciriaco's manuscripts before they, too, were destroyed.

In the specific case of The Parthenon, as noted on pages 43 & 44 of Woodford's book, had it not been for Ciriaco's drawings made on his visit to Athens, the only picture of the parthenon we would have had was as it's 1670 configuration as the 'Our Lady of Athens' Christian church.  That's because in 1687, the "whole centre of the Parthenon was blown out, though the ends were relatively undamaged", as a result of one of the aforementioned wars.  (The book also points to what may have been discrepancies in some of the detail work in Ciriaco's drawings - maybe because he was pressed for time while making them or did some portions from memory.)

There are some who believe that some, if not all, of his work was a hoax.  Volume 2 of 6 of Gibbons Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire has the following footnote:

[Footnote 43: See Dodwell. Paucitat. Mart. l. xiii.  The Spanish Inscription in Gruter, p. 238, No. 9, is a manifest and acknowledged forgery contrived by that noted imposter.  Cyriacus of Ancona, to flatter the pride and prejudices of the Spaniards.  See Ferreras, Histoire D'Espagne, tom. i. p. 192.]  This 'SLANDER' is contradicted by the comparison of the actual tombstone picture to that of one of Ciriaco's hand drawings noted in the text immediately following.


Family History Discussion by Ben Ciriacks, MBA, webmaster/genealogist/family historian & world traveler
[ November/December 2010: This entire section is going to be expanded with images and maps once Ben Ciriacks finishes comprehending and organizing his own version of John Chapman's really OUTSTANDING Mani - Greece - a guide and history web site.  John's work provides us with the first 'for real' indication that Cyriaco may have also been doing research on the 'family name' during his travels. ]

My guess is that Ciriaco was also one of our early Family History researchers.  (It takes one to know one - his interests, travels and opportunistic activities make it seem that Shirley MacLaine has been channeling him into me.)

His use of the Greek spelling Kyriacus in the Kyriacus Anconitanus signature on his drawing of the Parthenon referenced above indicates his affinity with the ancient Greek origins of his and our family name.  Combined with his interest in inscriptions, it could also mean that his basis for doing so was to discover more about the ancient family name references inscribed in stone in remnants of the catacombs of Rome (some or many of the ancient catacombs may not yet have been re-discovered while Ciriaco was in Rome) and possibly elsewhere throughout the ancient Roman Empire.  That also could mean that his "To wake the dead." quote (below) had more significance to those in the know because the primary focus of pre-legalized Christians (before the FINAL Great Persecution of 303 ~ 313) was to preserve the bodies of dead Christians for their glorious resurrection when Jesus Christ would return and defeat the pagan rulers of the Roman Empire - probably without having to resort to force, which would contradict Christian beliefs in non-violence, merely from the number of resurrected Christians being so numerous as to not allow an enemy movement of their arms to strike blows against them.
    And, of course, our own St. Cyriacus at the Baths (of Diocletian) was one of the greatest leaders among ancient Christians at that time - about whom little was known in fact due to everything being destroyed in conjunction with the FINAL Great Persecution that also resulted in his own martyrdom - a martyrdom that could have at least a half-dozen disparate (by locale and method) versions reflected at various pages in this web site and in writings throughout Christian history.

Many of Ciriaco's actions and the variations in the way he, himself, spelled his name could explain his time spent in Rome, Syria and Morea, Greece and hints at something possibly happening in Egypt regarding our family.  The family history portion of his efforts may have been subsidiary to his other interests, or vice versa.  In any case, some valuable documentation regarding our early family may exist among what remains of his work.  (His "maternal uncle" may have been a Cyriac - meaning his mother may have given him the ancient family name, along with stewardship of and dedication to the Family History Project -- meaning that what's happening on this web site is a continuation of what began hundreds of years ago --- meaning that this is all getting more interesting by the day ---- meaning that ..., well wait for Star Wars - the Cyriacus beginning!)

Another OUTSTANDING web site indicates that Cyriacus:

"... obviously visited Mani on a number of occasions.  What is fascinating about Cyriacus is his interest in Antiquity and his habit of sketching what he saw and writing down inscriptions.  He must have visited "Keria (newer version) - not presumably out of interest in its church - but the Roman fragments in the wall - and there are sketches in his own inimitable style (he wasn't a dreadfully good draughtsman) of the gravestones used in the west facade at Ag. Iannis Keria."  
  There is no mention of Cyriaco having visited the small church in nearby Kounos containing the painting of Kyriakos and another saint nor of any recognition of the existance of the hamlet of Agia Kiriaki/Kyriaki overlooking the historically famous site - tigani is greek for fying pan.
[ July 29, 2008 update:  It should be noted that regardless of his ability, Cyriaco did take the time to copy ancient artifacts, some of which were unknown to later generations for having been destroyed and lost except for his sketches of them.  It is hard to find fault with any 'ONE OF A KIND' historical work, regardless of the quality or adequacy of its execution. ]
    ("Mani, the southernmost and middle peninsula of the Peloponnese or Morea, straddling the districts of Lakonia and Messenia in southern Greece, is a treasure trove of ...") [ Nov 10, 2011:  Kyriakakos family name in the region. ]

There is a St. Ciriaco church in Ancona, so his efforts may also have been connected with completing the story regarding this saint - a legitimate portion, if not all, of which is contained within the Acta Cyriaci, which itself may or may not be about our Cyriacus at the Baths (of Diocletian) - we don't yet know as of November 2010.

The appears to have the best information regarding Ancona, the church and the saint to whom it is dedicated.  Our older Judas Cyriacus page at this website has other references to him.


Mani-Peloponnese-Greece IMAGES:
MAPS: Mani-Peloponnese-Greece castles
     AgiaKiriaki  & AgiaKyriaki
 AnoBoulari-PortoKayio AnoBoulari Kyriaki
 Itilo-Kitta Itilo
 CavoGrosso (Keria-Morea) Kyriakos-Pentakia
St.Ciriaco: churchbodyicon2
 Pope Address (5/30/99)
 Quiriacus (May 4th)


  • 1/08/11:  to-tell-you-something-special !2 known Cyriaco images!

  • 10/19/10:  (See our local Judas Cyriacus page.)  

  • 10/08/10:  A posting relates/duplicates information regarding Cyriacus of Ancona.

  • 8/24/10:  An excellent example of the work Ciriaco did on all our behalf is described at Rector's Palace of Dubrovnik ... in a June 22, 1996 posting.

  • 8/12/10:  Crypt of St. Cyriacus by rhipster

  • 5/24/10: AusPinay at VirtualTourist blogged about her recent trip to Ancona and the Church - she uploaded some informative pictures, too.

  • 3/24/10:  Another discussion of the To Wake The Dead book by Marina Belozerskaya regards the implied claim therein that he may have been one of our earliest archeologists.

  • 2/5/10:  San Ciriaco picture/description/history [OUTSTANDING picture!] and another brief blog entry regarding Ancona.

  • 8/26/09:  Cyriacus-Renaissance-Man has:
      "A self-made merchant and traveler, he became a diplomat and spy, hobnobbing with kings, emperors, the pope, and sultan -- all thanks to his passion for archaeology, of which he was a founding father."
    That web site also has a picture of his drawing of the Parthenon.  The web site also reviews the same book; as does another more recent one by Susan Meadows on January 1, 2010 and yet another by Magnus Reuterdahl around January 13th, 2010.

  • 7/28/08: (deadlink © Robert W. Allison, 1995): THE ABBOTS OF PHILOTHEOU - THE TENTH THROUGH SIXTEENTH CENTURIES
        Excerpt: Cyriacus of Ancona, travel diary, 1444, 22-29 November. (Treviso, cod. Bibl. Capitol. 221 and Vatican, cod. Lat. 5250; ed. H. Graeven, 1899. The date of the Philotheou visit was November 25, 1444.

  • 7/25/08: Bryn Mawr Classical Review     by     Diana Wright  &  CYRIACO OF ANCONA 1391 -1452 (web site)  &  (local guestbook entry)

  • 2007:

  • The Civilization of the Renaissance in Italy by Jacob Burckhardt (translated by S.G.C. Middlemore, 1878)Part Three - The Revival of Antiquity - The Ruins of Rome has:
    "...  Collections of antiquities of all sorts now became common.  Ciriaco of Ancona (d. 1457) travelled not only through Italy, but through other countries of the old Orbis terrarum, and brought back countless inscriptions and sketches.  When asked why he took all this trouble, he replied, 'To wake the dead.'"

  • The Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy Renaissance 14~15th Century has:  Cyriacus of Ancona, who sounded the key-note of the new movement in his famous saying "I go to awake the dead."

  • (08729: deadlink) Die Inschriften von Ephesos- Die Inschriften sind das Fleisch am Skelett der Archäologie "...  Ausgrabungen im Jahre 1895 zutage gekommenen Inschriften und Fragmente und auch die der im Britischen Museum verwahrten Texte aus den englischen Grabungen unter J.T. Wood." ...
    "ahezu 6000 Texte und Textfragmente sind seit den Tagen des Cyriacus von Ancona (Mitte 14. Jh.) bis heute zutage gekommen.  ..."

    I (1939)
    . . .
    L. MONTEVECCHI, Lettera inedita di Ciriaco dAncona ...................p. 80
    . . .        

  • Horologion of Andronicos ... 15th century A.D., Cyriacus of Ancona mentions the monument as the temple of Aeolos while an anonymous traveller refers to it as a church.  In the 18th century it was used as the tekke of the Dervishes."
        Also known as the Tower Of The Winds -Water clock Of Andronicus Kyrrhos / Roman Agora - The monument was preserved almost intact as late as the 15th century A.D. when Cyriacus of Ancona visited the site and copied the five inscriptions on the facade.

  • (08803: dead link) Library Desk reference 29 Quadrivium Latin A-J Desk 29 "43 Crete, description. by ?,42 actually Cyriacus of Ancona; 15-27, ?"

  • Local site references
            (from above text):
  • Bibliography entry page
    Cyriac Family History Project home page
    Cyriac surname spellings entry page
    Emperors, Popes & Persecutions page
    Inscriptions (?Egypt?) page
    Judas Cyriacus (?of Ancoa?)page
    Places, etc. (Ancona) page
    Saints (miscellaneous) reference page
    St. Cyr (?Syria?) page
    St. Cyriacus at the Baths page
    Terminology (Final Great Persecution+) page
    Wright, Diana guestbook entries

  • Morea Greece & Cavo Grosso (large cape) - sites visited by Cyriacus of Ancona.

  • (08729: deadlink) SYNOPSIS - The Annual Index of Greek Studies (1992) "Cyriacus-of-Ancona--History--Medieval 962" A close-up view of the Philopappos Monument via Wikipedia

  • Philopappos Monument - The monument ... facade.  The three inscriptions below the statues record the names of the persons represented.  The central figure is Philopappos, son of Epiphanes, on the left is Antiochus, son of king Antiochus, and on the right was king Seleucus Nicator, son of Antiochus.

    The Wikipedia site has:

  • The traveller Cyriacus of Ancona wrote in his memoir that underneath the inscription stated "King Seleucus Nicator, son of Antiochus".
  • Only two-thirds of the façade remains. The tomb chamber behind the façade is completely destroyed except for the base. The Philopappos Monument appeared to be intact until recently as in 1436, the traveller Cyriacus of Ancona visited the monument and wrote in his memoirs that the monument was still intact. The destruction of the monument must have occurred after this time.

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