Data lost forever” or “surprises in store”? Gleaning the records of past excavations at the Episcopal Basilica of Dion’.
Presented by Kyriakos Fragkoulis
The Whitting Room (Arts 436), University of Birmingham
5:15 PM 23rd May 2018
More than one and a half century of archaeological survey work carried out in Greece has led to the identification of hundreds of early Christian churches, with the overwhelming majority being three-aisled basilicas, a sizeable proportion of which has been completely or partially excavated. But despite this impressive body of evidence, the number of relevant publications surely does not reflect the scale of fieldwork undertaken over all these years. Whilst Christian Archaeology or rather the archaeology of churches was for decades the focal point of the research on Late Antiquity in Greece, it has long been limited to an increasingly isolated position. Mainly due to the anachronistic art-historical methodology that was applied in most cases to investigate them, the early Christian basilicas of Greece and in particular those excavated long ago (i.e. the majority of the known examples) are largely being ignored by modern scholarship or regarded as obsolete. However, we clearly cannot dismiss churches as archaeological evidence purely on the basis of the way in which they have been examined in the past.
Through a number of examples taken from the excavation of the Episcopal Basilica of Dion in Northern Greece, the key one being that of a triconch building annexed to the church, we will attempt to illustrate the notion that our most substantial data sets for Late Antique Greece, the early Christian basilicas, still have much to offer to the archaeological research of the period. Our focus will be on a new interpretation of the function of the triconch, which gives a new turn to the issue of the overall shape and organization of the episcopal complex of Dion and will hopefully make a contribution to the study of the episcopal residences in Greece.