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Article

Peter Grossmann

[Abū Mīnā]

Site of a Christian city and pilgrimage centre in the Maryūt Desert, c. 45 km south-west of Alexandria, Egypt. It grew up around the shrine of St Menas, who was martyred during the persecution of the Christians instigated by Diocletian (reg 285–305). The ancient name of the site is not known, and the position of the saint’s grave had been long forgotten until, according to legend, several miracle cures led to its rediscovery. The place then quickly developed into an increasingly major centre of pilgrimage where, among other things, the so-called Menas ampules were manufactured as pilgrim flasks and achieved particular renown. The first excavations of the site were undertaken by Kaufmann in 1905–7. Further excavations have been directed successively by the Coptic Museum in Cairo (1951), Schläger (1963 and 1964), Wolfgang Müller-Wiener (1965–7) and Peter Grossmann (since 1969).

The earliest archaeological remains date to the late 4th century, although the grave itself was in an older hypogeum. The first martyrium basilica erected over the grave dates to the first half of the 5th century and was rapidly enlarged by various reconstructions and extensions. Around the turn of the 5th and 6th centuries, the Great Basilica was added to the east in the form of a transept-basilica, making it the largest church in Egypt (...

Article

Ahenny  

Roger Stalley

Site of an obscure Early Christian settlement formerly known as Kilclispeen (St Crispin’s Church) in Co. Tipperary, Ireland. The only remains are two outstanding stone crosses and the base of a third (c. 750–900), which are situated in a graveyard below the village. The crosses belong to a well-defined regional group and were constructed of three characteristic elements: a square base with sloping sides, a shaft with an unusually wide ring and a peculiar, rather ill-fitting, conical cap (the latter missing on the south cross). With its capstone, the north cross measures 3.7 m in height. The form of the Ahenny crosses is emphasized by a bold cable ornament along the outer contours. Projecting from the main faces are sculpted bosses, the most prominent feature of the ‘Ahenny school’. The ring and shaft of the crosses are covered with dense patterns of carved ornament, including interlace, spirals, frets, entangled beasts and interlocking men. Much of this decoration can be compared with the metalwork and manuscript illumination of the period, and it appears that the sculptors were in effect transposing altar or processional crosses into stone. With the addition of pigment, the analogy with metalwork would have been complete. In contrast to the shafts and rings, the bases bear figure sculpture in low relief. That on the north cross is best preserved and represents Adam and Eve with the animals in the Garden of Eden, a chariot procession (a theme repeated on other Irish crosses), seven ecclesiastics (possibly symbolizing Christ’s mission to the Apostles) and an enigmatic funeral procession with a headless corpse....

Article

Bawit  

C. Walters

Site on the west bank of the River Nile, c. 16 km west of Daryūt in the province of Asyūt, Egypt. A large monastery with rich sculptural and painted decoration originally lay in the desert 1 km to the west. According to tradition it was founded by the monk Apollo in the late 4th century ad and was inhabited until the late 12th century. The site was excavated intermittently between 1901 and 1913 by the French Archaeological Institute in Cairo; most of the structural finds were removed to the Coptic Museum in Cairo and the Louvre in Paris. The monastery consisted of an enclosed nucleus with other buildings outside the walls, although it is not known how much of the site was occupied at any given time. Within the enclosed area were two churches. A number of two-storey structures were excavated, of which the ground floors were probably chapels and the upper floors served as living quarters, as in the monastery of Apa Jeremiah at Saqqara (...

Article

Butrint  

T. F. C. Blagg

[It. Butrinto; anc. Gr. Bouthroton; Lat. Buthrotum]

Site in southern Albania, set on a hill beside a coastal lagoon connected to the sea by a natural channel. The city flourished in Greek, Roman, and Byzantine times. Excavation and display of its extensive and deserted remains, begun by the Italians in 1928, have been continued by Albanian archaeologists; finds are displayed in the site museum (renovated 1988) and in the National Historical Museum, Tiranë. It was probably a colony of Kerkyra (Corfu), from which its site is visible. Earliest occupation on the hilltop is shown by Corinthian pottery of the 7th–6th centuries bc and a wall of polygonal masonry, rebuilt in the 5th century bc. By the following century the expanding city required new walls, which survive up to 9 m high and include the Lion Gate, named after the Archaic relief reused as its lintel (6th century bc). Butrint became a centre for the surrounding Epirot people, the ...

Article

Susan Pinto Madigan

[Tsaritsin Grad, Tzaritchingrad; LatJustiniana Prima]

Site of an early Byzantine city located 30 km south-west of Leskovac in Serbia. The name means ‘the emperor’s fortress’, and it can almost certainly be identified with Justiniana Prima, which, according to Prokopios (b c. ad 500), Justinian I founded c. ad 525–50 in honour of his birthplace, Tauresium. The site occupies a high plateau between the rivers Svinjarica to the west and Caričina to the east; an aqueduct also brought water from the Petrova Gora, 17 km to the south, and entered the city at the south-west corner. Fortifications strengthened with towers and wide ditches surround the city (c. 500 m north–south by c. 215 m east–west), which is divided into two parts: an upper city area that contains a polygonal acropolis and a lower city to the south-east. Excavations, first undertaken in 1912 and continued from the 1940s, have shown that the city was destroyed within a century of its foundation, probably by the Avaro-Slavs, but it was briefly revived in the 9th and 10th centuries. Many of the finds are in the National Museum at Leskovac....

Article

Yu. P. Kalashnik

[now Khersmes]

Site on the south-west of the Crimean peninsula, near Sevastopol’. Its position on the Black Sea trade routes determined its commercial importance. It was founded by the people of Herakleia Pontica jointly with the Delians c. 422/421 bc and became an important state in the 4th and 3rd centuries bc after assimilating the fertile lands of north-west Crimea. From the 3rd century bc, however, the expansion of the Scythian kingdom led to the contraction of the city’s territory. In the first centuries ad Chersonesos lost its independence, becoming subordinate to the neighbouring kingdom of the Bosporus and the administration of the Roman province of Lower Moesia; a garrison of Roman troops was stationed in the city. In the late 4th century ad Chersonesos became part of the Byzantine empire, and from the late 10th century it played an important part in the spread of Christianity in Kievan Russia. In the 13th century the city was destroyed by enemy attack....

Article

Malcolm A. R. Colledge, Joseph Gutmann and Andrew R. Seager

[now Qal‛at as Sāliḩīyah.]

Site of a Hellenistic and Roman walled city in eastern Syria, on a plateau between two gorges on the west bank of the middle Euphrates. The name combines elements that are Semitic (Dura) and Macedonian Greek (Europos). Dura Europos was founded by the Seleucids in the late 4th century bc at the intersection of east–west caravan routes and the trade route along the Euphrates. It was later a frontier fortress of the Parthian empire and after its capture in ad 165 fulfilled the same role for the Roman empire. After the Sasanian siege in ad 256–7 the city was abandoned. The results of excavations by French and American archaeologists in the 1920s and 1930s threw light on the process of synthesis between Classical and indigenous populations and cultures in Syria-Palestine during Hellenistic and Imperial Roman times. The excavated remains include a synagogue (see §3) with an important cycle of biblical paintings and an Early Christian meeting-house (...

Article

Ephesos  

Thorsten Opper, M. Rautmann, Anton Bammer, Ulrike Muss and Mark Whittow

[Ephesus.]

Site of an important Classical city on the west coast of Turkey, c. 2 km south-west of modern Selçuk. It has been occupied since perhaps as early as the 10th century bc, and its Late Classical Temple of Artemis (Artemision), built on the site of an earlier temple from the Archaic period, was regarded as one of the Seven Wonders of the World.

M. Rautmann

According to Greek tradition, Ephesos was founded in the 10th century bc by Ionian settlers near the mouth of the River Cayster. From the mid-6th century bc it was ruled successively by the Lydians, Croesus of Lydia extending the unfortified city inland, and the Persians. It was conquered by Alexander the Great in 334 bc, and throughout antiquity Ephesos was an important trading centre, its prestige enhanced by the construction of the colossal Temple of Artemis (6th century bc, rebuilt 4th century bc) on the plain to the north-east of the city. In the early ...

Article

Geraki  

G. Dimitrokallis and N. Moutsopoulos

Site of ancient Geronthrai in Laconia, Greece, 40 km south-east of Sparta and occupied by a large modern village. The ancient acropolis is surrounded by Cyclopean walls of the Mycenaean period (c. 1300 bc), well-preserved to the north and east. The medieval castle of Geraki, which was built by Jehan de Nivelet in 1254 on the rocky ridge of Parnon 5 km to the south-east, was the headquarters of one of the original twelve Frankish baronies in the Peloponnese. The village, the castle and the surrounding region contain a number of churches of various periods.

In the village there are two 6th-century basilical churches, only one of which has been excavated, and six later churches. Of the latter, the Evangelistria, St Sozon (built above the unexcavated basilica) and St Athanasius are built in the cross-in-square plan and date from the 12th century, while the two-aisled church of St Nicholas dates from the 13th century. St John Chrysostomos, a single-aisled church, and St Theodore, with its barrel-vaulted nave and pointed transverse barrel vault, were founded ...

Article

Roger Stalley

Site of an early Christian monastery in Co. Wicklow, Ireland. Set in a steep valley on the eastern edge of the Wicklow Mountains, the monastery owed its origin to St Kevin (d ad 618), who chose this wild, lonely spot as the site of a hermitage. A century later it had become a flourishing monastery, teeming with pilgrims and students; it retained its vitality until the end of the 12th century despite the sequence of fires, plunderings, and other disasters mentioned in the annals. The chief relics of the ancient monastery are an impressive round tower and the ruins of at least nine Romanesque or pre-Romanesque churches scattered for about 2 km along the valley. The intractable archaeological and chronological problems associated with the monuments are compounded by the restorations and rebuildings carried out by the Board of Works in 1875–9.

It is generally agreed that St Kevin’s original hermitage lay to the west, beside the upper lake; some interesting structures on the cliff side include the foundations of a ...

Article

Gortyn  

Antonino Di Vita and Dimitris Tsougarakis

Site of a city on the northern edge of the Mesara Plain in southern Crete, c. 6 km north-east of Moíres, which flourished c. 700 bcad 670. The westernmost of the hills enclosing it to the north served as its acropolis, where, following Neolithic occupation, there was a Bronze Age settlement after the 13th century bc. The acropolis is separated from the hills to the east by the River Mitropolianos, the course of which also divided the Greco-Roman and Byzantine city into two unequal parts. Excavations were begun by Federico Halbherr in 1884 and were continued by the Italian Archaeological Mission in Crete and from 1912 onwards by the Italian Archaeological School in Athens.

Antonino Di Vita

The most significant late Bronze Age (c. 1580–c. 1100 bc) remains from the area derive from the rural villa of Kannia, to the south-west of modern Mitropolis, which comprised 30 rooms, including at least four small domestic shrines distinguished by benches and by statuettes and ex-votos of the Minoan goddess. The 50 or so large storage pithoi that were found in many of the rooms and that attest to the villa’s connection with agriculture date from Late Minoan (...

Article

Daria Ferrero De Bernardi and Kalinka Huber

[now Pamukkale]

Site in south-west Anatolia, Turkey. The town was built on a travertine terrace formed by sediments of hot mineral-rich springs, overlooking the Meander (Turk. Menderes) Valley. It was founded in the 2nd century bc by the Pergamene kings at an important strategic position; it became part of the Roman province of Asia in 133 bc, and during the Empire it was a prosperous trading centre. In the 4th and 5th centuries ad it was the seat of a bishop, and from the 6th century ad of a metropolitan. It gradually fell into decay and was probably abandoned with the coming of the Saljuqs (12th century). The city was first researched in 1898 by a German mission; since 1957 excavations have been directed by the Italians.

C. Humann and others: Altertümer von Hierapolis, Jahrbuch des Deutschen archäologischen Instituts [prev. pubd as Jb. Ksr. Dt. Archäol. Inst.], suppl. 4 (Berlin, 1898) E. Schneider-Equini...

Article

Jelling  

James Graham-Campbell

Site of a 10th-century ad royal burial in Jutland, Denmark. The find gave its name to a major style of Viking art, often spelt ‘Jellinge’ in English (see Viking art, §II, 1, (v)). The royal Danish monuments at Jelling constitute one of the most impressive Viking-period sites in Scandinavia. The monuments and their associated artefacts are of central importance for the characterization and chronology of 10th-century Viking art, both because of their high status and quality, and for the fact that they span the change from paganism to Christianity in a known historical context. They comprise an empty burial mound (the North Mound, begun winter 958–9), a mound without a grave (the South Mound, completed c. 970), two rune-stones and the remains of a large stone setting. The inscription on the smaller of the two rune-stones (lacking pictorial ornament) indicates that some part of this complex was erected by King ...

Article

Korykos  

Mark Whittow

Site of a Roman, Byzantine and Armenian city on the Mediterranean coast of Turkey, 25 km north-east of Silifke (anc. Seleucia ad Calycadnum) in the province of Mersin. Although Korykos was founded in the Hellenistic period (before 197 bc), it was of little importance until the 4th century ad, when it became a prosperous port for the agricultural products of the Cilician hills and a staging-post on the sea route to Constantinople (now Istanbul). The Arab conquests and the collapse of the Byzantine economy in the 7th century severely affected Korykos, which may have been abandoned. The site was reoccupied and fortified by the Byzantines in 1099. It was part of the Kingdom of Lesser Armenia from the second half of the 12th century until 1361, when the inhabitants voluntarily submitted to the Lusignan kings of Cyprus (1192–1489). It was finally conquered by the Karamanoǧlu Turks in ...

Article

Roger Stalley

Site of an Irish monastery, Co. Louth, celebrated in the annals in the 10th and 11th centuries as a seat of learning. A round bell-tower, two small ruined churches, and three sculptured crosses remain. Two of the crosses, the ‘West cross’ and ‘Muiredach’s cross’, belong to the group of so-called ‘scripture crosses’. With their well-articulated designs, bold figure style and rich display of Christian iconography—over 40 subjects are depicted—they are among the outstanding sculptures of early medieval Europe.

Muiredach’s cross is named from an inscription at the base of the shaft (west face) asking for prayers for Muiredach who caused the cross to be made. The deaths of abbots with this name are recorded at Monasterboice in 844 and 923, the latter generally assumed to belong to the patron of the cross. Cut from hard quartzy sandstone, the monument is 5.4 m high and survives in almost perfect condition. It consists of three standard elements: a truncated pyramidal base, a main shaft and ring, and a small cap in the form of an oratory or house shrine with gable finials and a shingled roof. The Redemption constitutes the underlying theme of the iconographic programme, with the ...

Article

Mystras  

Melita Emmanuel

[Mistra; Mistras; Myzithras]

Site of the Byzantine capital of the Morea (Peloponnese, Greece), on a foothill of the Taygetos range, c. 5 km south-west of Sparta. It was originally called Myzithras, but this name was later corrupted to Mystras (‘mistress’).

The castle of Mystras was founded in 1249 by William II of Villehardouin (reg 1246–78), prince of the Frankish principality of Achaea. In 1259 he was defeated and captured by Michael II, Despot of Epiros (reg 1236–71), at the Battle of Pelagonia in northern Greece; in 1262, in order to pay his own ransom, William was forced to concede the castle of Mystras to the Byzantine emperor Michael VIII Palaiologos (reg 1261–82). Soon afterwards Mystras became the capital of the growing Greek province of the Morea and expanded to accommodate the inhabitants of the vale of Sparta, who moved there for greater protection during the continual warfare between the Franks and Greeks. At first it was governed by a resident Byzantine general. In ...

Article

Oseberg  

James Graham-Campbell

Site in Vestfold, Norway, some finds from which gave their name to a style of Viking-age art that was employed throughout Scandinavia. The Oseberg grave, situated on the west coast of the Oslo Fjord, near Tønsberg, was excavated in 1904. A large mound covered a ship in which had been constructed a wooden burial chamber containing the bodies of two women and a wide range of grave goods, including transport, animals, food, and domestic utensils (see fig.). The grave would undoubtedly also have contained precious metalwork, but of this the tomb had been plundered. The burial is dendrochronologically dated to 834.

The remarkably preserved wooden carvings, some of exceptional quality, include the prow and stern-post of the ship itself, a cart, three sledges, some bedposts, and other objects, including four posts in the form of animal heads (Oslo, U. Oldsaksaml.; see fig.). It was these that gave rise to Wilson and Klindt-Jensen’s judgement that ‘no Scandinavian archaeological find can rival in scope and opulence the Oseberg find’. The carvings are the work of several hands. Some, such as the ‘...

Article

Andrew Poulter

Site in Bulgaria, 15 km south-west of Plovdiv. Under Roman rule it served as an important religious centre, with dedications set up to such Greek divinities as Asklepios, Hygieia and Hera, to the eastern Cybele and Mithras and to the Thracian horseman god. By c. ad 400 there was a church on the site, which was in turn levelled (?c. 500–550) to make way for the Byzantine Red Church, the ruins of which are still standing (h. c. 14 m). The name of the Byzantine church derives from the use throughout of brick construction. Its plan is unusual for the Balkans and comprises a central space of 8 sq. m with apses on each side and encircling single-storey north and south aisles. Four piers connected by arches support the central dome and the half-domes that cover the apses. The eastern apse is deeper than the others, with a barrel-vaulted choir separating it from the nave. At the west end of the church are an inner and outer narthex, the latter containing a quatrefoil ...

Article

Preslav  

Andrew Poulter

[Veliki Preslav: ‘Great Preslav’; Turk. Eski Stambul]

Site in Bulgaria c. 20 km south-west of Shoumen. Although a settlement existed here as early as the 4th or 3rd millennium bc, it did not come to prominence until the late 9th century ad. Excavations begun in the 1920s have revealed over 30 churches and monasteries in and around the site, some of which were founded by King Boris I Michael (reg 852–89) after the kingdom’s conversion to Christianity in 865. Under his son Simeon (reg 893–927) the capital of the First Bulgarian Kingdom was transferred from Pliska to Preslav, which became the seat of the patriarchate of the Bulgarian Church and an important centre of Christian learning. In 969 the city was sacked by Prince Svyatoslav I (reg 964–72) of Kiev, and in 971 by the Byzantine emperor John I Tzimiskes (reg 969–76); thereafter it was no longer an important Bulgarian centre, being only briefly reoccupied by the Bulgarians in 997. For most of the next two centuries Bulgaria was under Byzantine domination, and ‘Great Preslav’ lost its political importance and its significance as an architectural, religious and cultural centre....

Article

Rusafa  

Thilo Ulbert

[al-Ruṣāfa; Assyrian Rasappa; Bibl. Rezeph; Gr. Rhesafa; Lat. Risafa, Rosafa; Byz. Sergiopolis; Arab. Ruṣāfat Hišham; Resafa]

Site of an ancient city in northern Syria c. 200 km east of Aleppo and 30 km south of the River Euphrates, with both Byzantine and Islamic remains. Although it was known from earlier travellers’ reports, full descriptions of the monuments were not published until the early 20th century. Excavations were undertaken by the Deutsches Archäologisches Institut from 1952, directed first by Kollwitz and from 1976 by Ulbert.

Although the city is attested in both Assyrian and biblical sources (2 Kings 19:12; Isaiah 37:12), the earliest known architectural information is from the 3rd century ad, when Diocletian (reg 283–305) established it as a frontier fortress. Around ad 300 a high-ranking officer in the eastern Roman army, Sergius, was executed there. The martyr’s remains were originally buried outside the walls and became the focus of a cult. From the late 5th century onwards Rusafa was one of the most important pilgrimage centres in the eastern Mediterranean and was already an episcopal see. By the late ...