The early Christian archaeology of Asia Minor has recently developed into a discipline devoted to the contextualized study of the material remains of early Christianity. It has characterized Asia Minor as a region where—save some notable exceptions from mortuary contexts in Central Anatolia—the impact of the new faith on local material culture only became tangible in the course of the fourth century. During the fifth and sixth centuries Christianity would eventually conquer urban and rural landscapes through church construction in traditional as well as new foci of public space. At this time it also moved into the private sphere as household objects became decorated with Christian images and symbols.
Joan E. Taylor
The first Christian archaeological evidence in Palestine dates from the third century, in the so-called Megiddo church. From 326 onward, Palestine was the focus of imperial funding, and grand basilicas were established by order of the emperor Constantine. Sacred places associated with Jesus’s ancient appearance to Abraham (Mamre), birth (Bethlehem), Crucifixion and Resurrection (Golgotha), and instruction and Ascension (the Mount of Olives) have all yielded monumental remains. There is ample material testifying to a boom in church building to service Christian pilgrimage and conversion of the population, with Christian building and rebuilding continuing through to the Persian invasion of 614 and subsequent Muslim conquest of Palestine in 638.
Jody Michael Gordon and William R. Caraher
The archaeology of early Christian Cyprus represents one of the most significant case studies of how early Christianity developed because of the island’s unique geohistorical background and the diverse nature of its material remains. When combined with local hagiographical resources, Cyprus’s material culture illustrates the gradual development of a unique form of early Christian society between the fourth and seventh centuries that drew on both local and imperial influences. This chapter contributes to such perspectives by offering an introduction to early Christian Cyprus’s archaeological corpus vis-à-vis the island’s unique Late Antique eastern Mediterranean context. It examines basilicas, baptisteries, mosaics and church decor, funerary structures, coins and seals, metalwork, epigraphy, and ceramics to reveal the discipline’s main research foci and suggest topics for future investigation.
Well over three hundred sites, including over 150 well-preserved churches, provide abundant archaeological information on Christianity in Jordan. Archaeological investigation over the past hundred years has often focused on revealing architecture and mosaic floors, while careful, improved excavation techniques and use of scientific methods of analysis of finds in recent decades provide insights into anthropological topics, such as occupational history; standards of post-excavation conservation have improved as well. From their origins in the fourth century, material forms of Christianity spread in the fifth century and reached their high point in the sixth and seventh centuries, continuing into the early Islamic period, only to decline in the eighth century and beyond.
Syria occupies a unique place in early Christian archaeology by virtue of the fact that Antioch was the first city where followers of Jesus Christ were referred to as “Christians” and because it is the country in which the only securely dated house church has ever been discovered. Away from the Holy Land and the events of Christ’s life, and the establishment of ecclesiastical authority in Rome and Constantinople, Syria’s significance to archaeologists of Christianity lies in what the country can tell us about the daily lives of early believers. In the hinterland of Antioch hundreds of villages dating to the first seven centuries