Société d'archéologie de l'uOttawa – uOttawa Archaeology Society

‘Digging Christianity in the Balkans’ with our very own Sabrina Higgins!

7:30 PM, Wednesday, March 21, Simard 224, University of Ottawa

(stop in at the Museum of Classical Antiquities, Arts building foyer: 70 Laurier East) for guidance to Simard
224: easily accessible by elevator.)

Digging Christianity in the Balkans

Sabrina Higgins, University of Ottawa

When we think about Christianity we often refer to the larger Christian centres of Rome, Alexandria and Constantinople. Much of our knowledge of the development of Christianity comes from these important cities, but what do we know about the presence of Christianity in the remote villages of the Roman Empire? This lecture will focus on the 2011 excavation season at Golemo Gradiste in the small village of Konjuh in the northern region of the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia. The excavations at Golemo Gradiste are in their 10th season and have focused for the last three years on exposing the 6th century basilica associated with this site. The importance of this site resides in its unique architectural features, location, and ultimate destruction. Many of the architectural elements have no parallel in 6th century church design and their functions continue to elude us. Additionally, the site was suddenly abandoned in the 6th century although the excavation has yet to reveal any conclusive explanation for this mass exodus. There is evidence for large scale destruction, which could be a result of a natural disaster, or it could be associated with a significant number of ballista balls uncovered at the site, signalling, perhaps, an attack by an invading group of barbarians. The site of Golemo Gradiste is thus an example of how Christianity was interpreted by those living outside the major Christian metropolis and a reminder that the 6th century was a period of turmoil and hardships, which may have been felt even at this remote site.

Sabrina Higgins is a third year PhD candidate in Religious Studies at the University of Ottawa. She obtained her B,A. from the University of Ottawa in Classics and Religious Studies and her Masters in Classical and Near Eastern Archaeology from the University of British Columbia. She has been a supervisor at the excavations of Golemo Gradiste in the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia since May 2011 and will return for her second season of excavations at this site in May 2012.


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