Alexandra Chavarría Arnau
The archaeology of early Christian churches has made important advancements in recent decades in Italy thanks to a large number of new excavations and scientific meetings, as well as the development of the project CARE (Corpus Architecturae Religiosae Europeae (IV–X saec.)), in which most Italian specialists are involved. This chapter suggests new lines of research, thus contributing to a revised historiography of the archaeology of early Christian churches in Italy between the fourth century and the end of the sixth century. It surveys some of the ecclesiastical complexes that have been reanalyzed in recent decades or recently discovered through archaeological excavations.
This chapter reviews the evidence for the archaeology of early Christianity in Britain and Ireland. Here, the church had its origins in the areas that lay within the Roman Empire in the fourth century but rapidly expanded north and west in the early fifth century following the end of Roman rule. The evidence for church structures is limited and often ambiguous, with securely identifiable sites not appearing to any extent until the seventh century. There is a range of material culture that can be linked to the early church from the fourth to the seventh centuries; in particular, there are strong traditions of epigraphy and increasingly decorative stone carving from most areas. The conversion to Christianity also impacted burial rites, although the relationship between belief and mortuary traditions is not a simple one.
Alexandra Chavarría Arnau
This chapter traces the material evidence for the spread of Christianity in the Iberian peninsula (including Spain and Portugal) between the third and seventh centuries, focusing on a critical review of traditional interpretations and identifications frequently based on inconsistent chronological references, fragile and poorly surviving materials, and often contradictory textual and archaeological evidence. The result is a new perspective on the subject that is much more comparable to that seen in other areas of the Mediterranean. The chapter will analyze the development of Christianization in cities and the countryside, taking into account when churches were built, who built them, and the political, economic, and social context in which Christian topography was created.
Based on recent archaeological excavations, this chapter presents an overview of the Christianization of Gaul through buildings and topography. Over the last few decades, our knowledge of the organization of episcopal complexes in cities and funerary areas has been significantly advanced despite the small number of artifacts, many of which are poorly dated. The study of Christianization in the countryside is a more recent development, even though many Roman villas reused by churches in the Early Middle Ages have been excavated. New research shows the greater complexity of the situation, including settlement forms beyond villas and a variety of churches such as episcopal relays, funerary churches, and monasteries.
Textual sources attest to the early spread of Christianity across the Balkan region, and archaeological evidence demonstrates how the new religion transformed the built environment and material culture of the area in Late Antiquity, although dating and analysis of these buildings have tended to focus on stylistic and typological approaches. Prior to the late fourth century archaeological evidence of Christianity is mainly found in funerary contexts, but in the fifth and sixth centuries the urban and rural landscapes were transformed by the construction of Christian architecture, including the monumentalization of martyrs’ graves at towns such as Salona and the creation of major episcopal centers at provincial capitals such as Stobi and Nicopolis. These churches were funded by multiple individuals, evidenced by inscriptions that reference ecclesiastical and lay donors of both sexes. The location and design of many of the churches also reflect the increasingly militarized nature of the Late Antique Balkans.