This page is part of the project LABedia: Еncyclopedia of Late Antique Balkans, 4th-5th c.,
financed by the National Science Fund, contract КП-06-Н30/6, 13.12.2018
THE END OF PAGANISM IN THRACE
Ivan Valchev, Assist. Prof. Dr.
Sofia University "St. Kliment Ohridski", Fuculty of History, Archaeology Department
10 October 2018
4 pm, 45 Moskovska Str.
you can watch the lecture
Studying the processes of extinction of the paganism and the imposition of Christianity on the basis of archaeological sources shows the lack of unifying trends for Thrace. The destruction of pagan temples and sanctuaries and the disappearance of the traditional burial rituals show both regional peculiarities and common imperial tendencies. The result of Christianization, which can be seen in the archaeological record, is the gradual disappearance of the pagan cult and funerary practices in the period between the beginnings of the 4th century and the middle of the 5th century.
The question for the disappearance of the pagan religion and the imposition of Christianity in the Thracian lands has attracted the interest of scientists for decades. However, there is no comprehensive study on the subject. The focus of the lecture is on the information from the pagan temples and sanctuaries, as well as the necropoleis dated in the late Roman period. The in-depth analysis of archaeological materials shows that many of the pagan religious centers functioned intensively until the very end of the 4th century and some even in the first decades of the 5th century. There are, however, examples of abandoned sanctuaries even before the end of the 3rd century as well as destroyed in the second quarter of the 4th century. The creation of a model for the treatment of ancient pagan temples and sanctuaries, which is general for Thrace, is impossible both because of the degree of research and publications and the obvious regional differences and individual approaches. What can be said is that the decline of pagan religious centers began from the end of the 3rd – the beginning of the 4th century and continued for about a century. At the moment it seems that the fatal blow was delivered with the laws of Theodosius I at the end of the 4th century. The data from the necropoleis of the late Roman Period are similar to those we receive from the temples and sanctuaries. The process of substitution of cremation with inhumation, which was not always connected with Christianization, was slower in the rural areas of Thrace and especially in the mountains such as the Rhodope Mountains. Тhe result of Christianization, which can be seen in the archaeological record, is the gradual disappearance of the pagan cult and funerary practices in the period between the beginnings of the 4th century and the middle of the 5th century.