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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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Chapter 4: A second focus of liturgical activity

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A second focus of liturgical activity

The chapter begins by considering the definition of a diakonikon, and what activities are associated with it. Then some current prevailing views as to the location of the diakonikon are reviewed. The available archaeological evidence from the catalogue is then examined to determine whether it is possible to determine the location of the diakonikon, and what activities took place there.

This chapter is prompted, firstly, by Krautheimer’s argument that the congregation’s offerings were brought to the diakonikon, and so its location might coincide with a concentration of domestic artefacts in its vicinity.1 Detailed analysis of domestic pottery deposited in church sites is conducted in the next chapter, but determining the location of the diakonikon is necessary to allow informed analysis of their disposition. Secondly, by the discovery of a second focus of liturgical activity in side chapels (figure 4.1) adjacent to church buildings.2 Crowfoot had argued, based upon his research at Gerasa, that during the Early Byzantine period the rite of prothesis took place in the side chapel, and he thought it also functioned as a diakonikon at this time.3 This line of argument gained some credibility because there is an absence of an alternative secondary liturgical focus inside the church building that would support arguments that the rite of prothesis was conducted in a diakonikon or prothesis chapel located inside the church. The question considered here is whether there is evidence for liturgical...

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