Polytheism and Christianity on Greek Islands: Strategic or Organic Change
Rebecca Sweetman, 2021-10-15, Time: 11:30 - 12:10
The earliest Christian churches in what is now modern Greece, appear in Crete and the Cycladic islands before most areas of the mainland, with the exception of Thessaloniki and parts of the north. I will argue here that this is in part a result of well-established connectivity in addition to the resilience of the islands in their abilities to interweave behavioural adaptations within their existing environmental and social contexts. In doing so, we will address some key questions regarding use of existing religious space and its positive inclusion in the promulgation of Christianity. It is increasingly being shown for other areas of the Empire such as Asia Minor and Egypt, as well as the Peloponnese, that temple conversion rarely took place unless the existing building had been out of use as polytheistic space for some time. In this paper, we will examine the evidence for the use of polytheistic sanctuary space on Crete and the Cyclades with the aim of understanding the processes of Christianization in the Late Antique period as strategic, organic or both.