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The Early Byzantine Christian Church

An Archaeological Re-assessment of Forty-Seven Early Byzantine Basilical Church Excavations Primarily in Israel and Jordan, and their Historical and Liturgical Context

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Bernard Mulholland

The observation that domestic artefacts are often recovered during church excavations led to an archaeological re-assessment of forty-seven Early Byzantine basilical church excavations and their historical, gender and liturgical context. The excavations were restricted to the three most common basilical church plans to allow for like-for-like analysis between sites that share the same plan: monoapsidal, inscribed and triapsidal. These sites were later found to have two distinct sanctuary configurations, namely a Π-shaped sanctuary in front of the apse, or else a sanctuary that extended across both side aisles that often formed a characteristic T-shaped layout. Further analysis indicated that Π-shaped sanctuaries are found in two church plans: firstly a protruding monoapsidal plan that characteristically has a major entrance located to either side of the apse, which is also referred to as a ‘Constantinopolitan’ church plan; and secondly in the inscribed plan, which is also referred to as a ‘Syrian’ church plan. The T-shaped layout is characteristic of the triapsidal plan, but can also occur in a monoapsidal plan, and this is referred to as a ‘Roman’ church plan. Detailed analysis of inscriptions and patterns of artefactual deposition also revealed the probable location of the diakonikon where the rite of prothesis took place.
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Acknowledgements

Extract



Any work of this magnitude and complexity has some input from many sources. I should like to thank those who have read the contents and commented upon them. These include Professor Gabriel Cooney, Dr. Ken Dark, Dr. Mark Gardiner, Dr. Helen Gittos, Professor Stephen Hill, Dr. Mark Jackson, Dr. Luke Lavan, Professor Margaret Mullett, Dr. Dion Smythe, and especially Professor Theresa Urbainczyk. I would also like to thank Dr. Eliya Ribak and Dr. Ellen Swift who read and commented upon extracts. I would also like to express my deep gratitude to Professor Andrew Poulter, who made excavation data available to me from the site at Nicopolis ad Istrum.

Byzantine Studies is a very complex area of research, and I have also learnt a great deal from fellow members of the Society for the Promotion of Byzantine Studies (SPBS), and I should particularly like to thank both Antony Eastmond and Kathleen Maxwell for keeping me informed of SPBS/BSANA activities. The same must apply to those who attended the Institute of Byzantine Studies at the Queen’s University in Belfast, either as lecturers or students, particularly Professor Jim Crow, Dr. Robert Jordan and Dr. Dirk Krausmuller. I received invaluable feedback to papers from those who attended the 2010, 2011, 2012 and 2013 Oxford Byzantine Society postgraduate conferences, the 2007 and 2008 ‘Sailing to Byzantium’ Postgraduate Forum in Byzantine Studies at the Centre for Medieval and Renaissance Studies at Trinity College in Dublin, the 41st Spring Symposium of Byzantine Studies...

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