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date: 28 February 2020

Abstract and Keywords

The archaeology of ancient Christian baptisteries, purpose-built venues for the initiation of new Christians, opens new avenues to study early Christianity. Through consideration of structure and design, space, liturgy, and the afterlife of baptisteries, this chapter brings the archaeology and liturgical tradition into a dialogue between site and rite about Christian initiation in Late Antiquity. Archaeology highlights the important role played by a water bath and anointing with blessed oil, on the one hand, and the corresponding evolution of liturgical space, on the other, illustrating how ritual evolution went hand in hand with changes in the material culture. The chapter empowers readers visiting any ancient baptistery to view the space as a sacred vestige of early Christianity through new lenses attuned to archaeology and material culture.

Keywords: anointing, baptism, Christian initiation, liturgy, material culture, oil, rite, ritual, site, water

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