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Abercius, Inscription of

(390 words)

Author(s): Koch, Guntram
[German Version] In 1883, two fragments of an altar slab with portions of a lengthy Greek epitaph of a certain Abercius were discovered at Hieropolis on the Glaucus, near Synnada in Phrygia (western Turkey). The fragments were given to Pope Leo X by Sultan Abdülhamid II in 1888 and are now in the Museo Pio Cristiano in the Vatican, with a reconstruction of the altar. The inscription comprises 18 incomplete lines, with nine verses (7–15). The entire inscription (a distich and 20 hexameters) is preserved in the legendary Life of a Bishop Abercius, which may go back to …

Via Appia

(110 words)

Author(s): Koch, Guntram
[German Version] Via Appia, a via publica laid out in 312 bce by the censor Appius Claudius Caecus, in part on top of earlier roads. It ran from Rome to Brundisium (Brindisi), then continued along the Via Egnatia to the Balkans; for centuries, therefore, it was the most important link joining Rome to Asia Minor and the Levant (Trade and traffic in the Mediterranean world). Impressive sections lined with tombs and other structures are preserved near Rome. Guntram Koch Bibliography M. Rathmann, DNP XII/2, 2002, 159f. I. de Portella et al., eds., Via Appia antica, 2003; ET: The Appian Way: Fro…

Stobi

(179 words)

Author(s): Koch, Guntram
[German Version] The town of Stobi (modern Gradsko) in what is today Macedonia came into existence no later than the 3rd century bce. It flourished during the Roman Empire, as the remains of various structures attest, serving as a junction on the important north-south road to Thessalonica and linking with the Via Egnatia toward the northeast. Stobi took on special importance in Late Antiquity, when it became the capital of the province of Macedonia Secunda. Its conquest by the Goths under Theodoric the Great in 479 b…

Ampulla

(281 words)

Author(s): Koch, Guntram
[German Version] (Gk εὐλογία/ eulogía, blessing). In the early Christian era ampullas were well known as pilgrimage-related mementos. They are small receptacles made of metal (alloyed lead-pewter), earthenware or glass, generally in the shape of a round, low canteen with two handles. At times they were used to carry water but mostly oil from sacred places in the…

Hierapolis (Asia Minor)

(186 words)

Author(s): Koch, Guntram
[German Version] Phrygian Hierapolis (modern Pamukkale, “Cotton Castle”) is situated near the Maeander on silica terraces alongside a vigorous spring, high above a fertile plain. It was founded in the 2nd century bce by colonists from Pergamum and flourished from the 1st through the 3rd centuries (theater; nymphaeum; temple of Apollo by a cleft in the earth thought to be an entrance to the netherworld; thermae; impressive necropoleis with mausolea and sarcophagi) and again in the 5th/6th centuries ce (city walls; several churches within the city; a church in the northern …

Palmyra

(587 words)

Author(s): Koch, Guntram
[German Version] (Sem. Tadmor), oasis watered by a major spring (Efqa), on an important caravan route in the Syrian desert between the Euphrates (Dura-Europos) and the cities and towns in the west (Hama, Homs, Damascus) and along the coast. The earliest traces of human settlement (some 75,000 years old) were found in the cave of Douara. Settlement on the hill beside the spring began c. 7000 bce. Tadmor is mentioned in 2nd-millennium texts from Kültepe, Mari, and Emar. Since c. 300 bce, Palmyra must have been a very significant site, as evidenced by ongoing excavations. In 41 bce Palmyra cam…

Poreč

(163 words)

Author(s): Koch, Guntram
[German Version] (Ital. Parenzo) is a Croatian seaport on the western coast of Istria. The site has been settled since the Bronze Age. In the 2nd century bce it came under Roman rule; it was made a colonia under Tiberius (14–37 ce). Today the layout of the city still reflects the ancient system of orthogonal streets, dominated by a forum. The beginnings of Christianity in Poreč are obscure. Around 550 Bishop Euphrasius had a church built on the site of a large 3rd-century Roman villa and churches from the late 4th and early 5th centuri…

Megaliths/Menhirs

(275 words)

Author(s): Koch, Guntram
[German Version] A menhir (Fr.-Breton “long stone”) is an elongated stone set vertically in the open air. In some areas, especially in France, the upper part resembles a human form, either just the face or the whole upper body, usually simply incised, more rarely three-dimensional (“statue menhirs”). Women are identified by their breasts; men usually carry a weapon as an attribute. Menhirs vary in size, from 1–2 m to exceptional examples 20 m high or more. They are found throughout extensive areas…

Wilpert, Joseph

(115 words)

Author(s): Koch, Guntram
[German Version] (Giuseppe; Aug 22, 1857, Eiglau, Silesia – Mar 10, 1944, Rome), Catholic priest and professor in Rome from 1926. Wilpert published three monumental works discussing the historical monument in Rome, which are still fundamental to any study of early Christian art. Guntram Koch Bibliography Works include: Die Malereien der Katakomben Roms, 1903 (Ger. & Ital.) Die römischen Mosaiken und Malereien der kirchlichen Bauten vom 4. bis 13. Jahrhundert, 4 vols., 1916; partial repr. with suppls.: Die römischen Mosaiken der kirchlichen Bauten vom 4. bis 13. Jahrhundert., ed. W…

Qalaat Seman

(309 words)

Author(s): Koch, Guntram
[German Version] Qalaat Seman, major early Christian pilgrimage (III) site in northern Syria, some 40 km from Aleppo. The focus of the site was the pillar on which the monk Simeon Stylites the Elder spent his life from 415 to 459 ce in stasis, i.e. “standing.” It was said ultimately to have been some 18 m tall. Simeon was already famous during his lifetime and drew many pilgrims. Pictures of him were found as far away as Rome. After his death, probably between 475 and 491 ce, the site was developed on a grand scale; the whole complex measures some 450 by 250 m. Around the pillar …

Martyrium

(848 words)

Author(s): Koch, Guntram
[German Version] In the early Christian period, a martyrion (Gk) or memoria (Lat.) was a place of “witness” and “commemoration” providing an opportunity for cultic veneration (cf. also Sacred sites: IV). The site might be associated with a biblical event or the life of Christ in the vicinity of the Holy Land. Examples include the site of the burning bush in the eastern portion of the chapel of St. Catherine's monastery at Mount Sinai (Sinai, St. Catherine's monastery); the tree in Mamre where God as a Trin…

Atrium

(175 words)

Author(s): Koch, Guntram
[German Version] An atrium is an open courtyard associated with big churches from the time of Constantine until the 6th century. Temples of the Imperial Period furnish prototypes. As a rule, the atrium is located at the narrow end before the main entrance – usually at the western, rarely at the eastern end (e.g. St. Peter's Basilica in Rome, Church of the Holy…

Lascaux Grotto

(263 words)

Author(s): Koch, Guntram
[German Version] is a long, multi-branched cave located in the vicinity of Montignac (Dordogne, near Périgueux) that was discovered in 1940. Its walls and ceilings are decorated with the most extensive cylce of paintings ever discovered in a prehistoric cave. At first, they were very well preserved, but have suffered greatly from algae. The cave was closed in 1963 and a viewing copy was installed nearby. Almost 1,500 individual depictions have been counted. Animals, especially wild horses, but als…

Baalbek

(174 words)

Author(s): Koch, Guntram
[German Version] (Heliopolis) in the northern Biqaʾ (Bekaa valley, Lebanon) was an ancient Phoencian cult site for Baal. Construction of the monumental temple of Zeus, the largest in antiquity, began in the 3rd century bce and was completed between the 1st and 3rd cent. ce; in the 2nd cent. ce further temples were erected, while the city acquired colonnaded streets and public buildings. According to Eusebius of Caesarea ( Vita Constantini III 58), Constantine the Great had a temple to Aphrodite torn down to make room for a church (locat…

Via Egnatia

(98 words)

Author(s): Koch, Guntram
[German Version] Via Egnatia, a via publica laid out around the mid-2nd century bce by Cnaeus Egnatius, in part on top of older roads. It continued the Via Appia, leading from the Adriatic ports of Dyrrhachion (Durres) and Apollonia (in modern Albania) through Thessalonica and Philippi to Constantinople/Byzantium (Istanbul). It was thus the most important land route connecting Rome and the Balkans, Asia Minor, and the Levant; it continued to play a significant role into the early Middle Ages. Guntram Koch Bibliography M. Rathmann, DNP XII/2, 2002, 161f. M. Fasolo, La via egnatia, vol. …

Seleucia-Ctesiphon

(249 words)

Author(s): Koch, Guntram
[German Version] (Tell Omar) was founded c. 300bce by Seleucus I on the right (west) bank of the Tigris, on the site of the earlier Upi (Opis). Babylonians, Greeks, Macedonians, and Jews are said to have settled there, bringing its eventual population to some 600,000. In the first half of the 2nd century bce, the Parthians built their new capital Ctesiphon on the east bank of the Tigris; c. 230/240 ce the Sasanids likewise built a capital Veh-Ardashir (Coche) south of Ctesiphon. Legend traces the earliest Christian community in Seleucia-Ctesiphon back to the apost…

Solin

(155 words)

Author(s): Koch, Guntram
[German Version] in Croatia near Split, was an Illyrian city that became a Roman colony under Julius Caesar. It flourished under the Empire, since it had an excellent harbor and good communications with the interior, and became the capital of the province of Dalmatia. Christianity spread very early and intensively in Salona. The city and its surroundings and the nearby island of Brattia (Brac) contain the ruins of a large number of churches and buildings over the tombs of martyrs, dating from the…

Mistra

(327 words)

Author(s): Koch, Guntram
[German Version] was founded as a castle in 1249 by William II of Villehardouin, the Frankish prince of Achaea; it was built on a prominent rock elevation (621 m) for the protection of the city of “Lakedaimonia” (ancient and modern Sparta [see Greece, map]), which lies roughly 7 km to the southeast of Mistra. In 1204, the Latin knights of the Fourth Crusade had conquered the Peloponnese, as well as other places. The Byzantines regained control of its southeastern part in 1262, and Mistra became th…

Sator-Rotas Square

(210 words)

Author(s): Koch, Guntram
[German Version] ( Sator arepo tenet opera rotas). The sator-rotas square began to appear in the mid-1st century throughout the Roman Empire, initially beginning with ROTAS, later with SATOR. In the Middle Ages and the modern period, popular belief put the square on amulets and used it widely as a charm or magic formula. The five lines of five letters can each be read from all four sides and in all directions: ¶ ROTAS SATOR OPERA AREPO TENET TENET AREPO OPERA SATOR ROTAS The interpretation is not clear. The formula is not Christian, but it has been used by Christians since the…

Externsteine Rocks,

(117 words)

Author(s): Koch, Guntram
[German Version] originally a Benedictine rock sanctuary at the southern end of the Teutoburg Forest. It was a replica of Golgotha in Jerusalem, with chapels for the discovery of the cross (dedicatory inscription of 1115) and the exaltation of the cross, a tomb high in the rock and a tomb at the base (Holy Sepulchre). There is a Roman monumental relief of the removal from the cross (24m2), and further, a relief with Adam ¶ and Eve. After the Lippe Reform (1538), it was no longer used for worship. Since 1810, it has been a historic monument. Guntram Koch Bibliography W. Matthes & R. Speckner, Das Re…
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