Regional Studies II
Abstracts of Session Papers
Saturday 2021-10-16 | 12:00 | 12:40
Stefan Lehmann & Andreas Gutsfeld
When Theodosius I decided to ban pagan cults across the Roman Empire in 391/392 AD, the worship of Zeus at Olympia came to an end. However, this did not seal the fate of the ancient and glorious Olympic Games, which continued in an adapted form according to the Christian requirements. It was only around 420 AD that the city of Elis decided to give up both the games and the sanctuary.
From now on, the Roman state took possession over Olympia by means of long-term tenant leases. As a result, substantial works took place over the entire sanctuary area, which were brought to an end without any significant interruption in the second quarter of the 5th c. AD.
This paper will examine how the tenants dealt with Olympia’s pagan architectural and cultural heritage, particularly with the Altis, which formed the sacral centre of the earlier sanctuary, and their attempts to bring this into line with the Christian policy of the Roman state.
Saturday 2021-10-16 | 12:40 | 13:20
«… εἰς τὴν Λακεδαιμονίων πόλιν, ὅτε ὀνείρατι πειθόμενος τῷ Ἀμυκλαίῳ θεῷ ἐφοίτησεν εὔξασθαι» (Himerios or. 72): The Amyklaion near Sparta in Late Antiquity
Information on the use of the Amyklaion and Agia Kyriaki hill as locus sanctus in Roman times and the early Christian period is scant. Although there is a clear fall off in the number of votive offerings, both the textual sources of the Roman and Byzantine period, few fragments of architectural members, figurines and lamps bear witness to the sanctuary’s undiminished operation into Late Antiquity and the 11th century C.E., and perhaps also to the existence of additional edifices. The picture changes clearly in the 3rd/4th century C.E., mainly because of the erection of new buildings. Particularly important is the existence of earlier material/spolia, such as the lower part of the herm of the priest Onasikrates, of the early 4th century C.E., and the base of a Doric column from the peristasis of the Throne in these new constructions. This picture is filled in by the testimony of the 4th century C.E. orator Himerios, who mentions that, on the one hand, the city of Sparta in his day was adorned with fine buildings and, on the other that he visits the Amyklaion in order to pray to the god, i.e. Apollon. Having in mind all these indications one could create a picture with intensive building activity during late Roman and the early Christian period, expecting large interventions. The present paper aims to explore issues such as the evolution and importance of the sanctuary of Apollon Amyklaios in late antiquity, interventions in the infrastructure of the site and its functionality until the early Byzantine period
Saturday 2021-10-16 | 13:20 | 14:00
Messene in the southwestern Peloponnese was one of the most important cities of the region during the Hellenistic and Roman period. Its description by Pausanias in the second century captured the image of an ancient religious center with a multitude of monuments. The fourth century would mark for the city and its inhabitants a series of radical changes and innovations that transformed the city center in the context of new and renewed uses. The distinct destruction layer found across the city, that can be connected with the great earthquake of 365 CE, has allowed us to precisely date many of these changes.
Thus, the archaeological investigation of domestic and public buildings that are altered in order to meet the needs of a shifting society can now shed light on wider changes occurring across the Roman Empire in the first half of the fourth century. In Messene almost at the same time a Christian assembly hall is built downtown, while just a few blocks away new original marble statues are created, both imperial and cultic, to name only a few of the recorded cultic practices. Most of these fourth century religious negotiations are recorded inside the private space of luxurious residences across the city’s center, marking maybe an overall change.
Aim of the paper is to describe and provide a first understanding of this new relationship between Pagans and Christian within the built space of the city of Messene during the time of Constantine and his heirs, and examine how this is reflected in the negotiations of religious practice, mainly Pagan.