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The Privileged Burials of Early Byzantine Greece (Early Fourth to Early Seventh Century CE)

Yuri Marano, Collège de France, Monde Byzantin, Fellow 2015–2016

During my fellowship, I explored the emergence of Christian society in early Byzantine Greece, focusing on ad sanctos burials, the tombs of individuals buried near the body or relics of a saint or martyr. After collecting evidence for the most recent discoveries, I framed the phenomenon within the Christianization of the diocese of Macedonia. Through the analysis of funerary inscriptions, I considered the composition of the local ruling class and its involvement in church building. The appearance of ad sanctos burials highlights the growing prestige of the Church and its ability to mobilize resources. Well attested in rural basilicas, ad sanctos burials challenge the idea of Christianization and church building as a principally urban phenomenon. The burials hint at a Christian aristocracy, living both in towns and in the countryside, that represented its status through association with relics. My project offers very promising streams of inquiry. Because it is located midway between East and West, Greece is a perfect case study for the dynamics of Christianization, and it is my intention to integrate the Greek data with other Mediterranean evidence in a comparative perspective.