Ecclesiastical Organisation and Christian Topography of the Lower Danube during Late Antiquity (3rd-8th Centuries AD)

The DANUBIUS project intends to study the Christianisation of the Lower Danube over a very long period, between the 3rd and the 8th centuries AD. That research topic has not resulted in any complete synthesis since Jacques Zeiller’s “Les origines chrétiennes dans les provinces danubiennes de l’Empire romain” (Paris, 1918). The overall objective of the DANUBIUS project is the historical and archaeological study of the ecclesiastical organisation and networks of the Danubian provinces of the Later Roman Empire, viz. at the period of the Christianisation of the region. To do so, two databases will be compiled: one devoted to the heuristic of sources, the other to Christian prosopography. In order to provide the first of these databases with unpublished data, a case study in the field on the late Roman site of Zaldapa (Krushari, Bulgaria), which has so far been little studied, despite its major historical importance, will complement the work.
Principal investigator: Dominic Moreau

Project being finalized

Institutional Partners

ANR HALMA ISITE-ULNE Logo_Danubius MESHS TGIR Huma Num (Très Grande Infrastructure de Recherche) Université de Lille

This project – which is the first stage of a long-term international and interdisciplinary research program – is thus reconsidering the question in the light of the scientific advances made in the last hundred years, both in terms of history and archaeology, for a better understanding of the simultaneous evolution of its ecclesiastical organisation and Christian topography.
To begin with, it will focus more on the last reaches of the Danube to be lost by Constantinople, which is also the part of the river which is best documented from literary sources, viz. the Lower Danube: the Late Roman provinces of Dacia Ripensis, Moesia Secunda and Scythia.
To do so, it will develop a geographic information system (GIS) model of the episcopal sees and other Christian sites. It will be structured around three work packages:
- the first one foresees is the compilation of a database of the written and material evidence of Christianisation;
- the second one is planned around the archaeological explorations of a little-known Late Roman site, viz. Zaldapa (Krushari, Bulgaria), which may be unique in being the only episcopal see of the region planted in an agglomeration that predates the Romans;
- the third one, proceeding from a part of the documentation collected in the other two, intends to offer a prosopography as the first step towards the publication of the Balkan volumes of the Prosopographie chrétienne du Bas-Empire series. Globally, this collection of data and case studies will be the laboratory for innovative conceptual tools and a new synthesis.

The GIS model that will be developed is placed at the apex of all three work packages, because it will bring them all together in a single tool. The overall idea is to produce a tool that will allow an accurate geolocation for the provenance of Late Antique Christian artefacts, buildings and inscriptions, with immediate access to references from literary sources concerning ancient Christianity. Also, the tool will refer to the available Christian prosopographical information for each site. By combining all this information, it will then be possible for the user to gather very quickly all the necessary material for the study of Christianity in a given place (city, group of cities, region, etc.). Moreover, the inclusion of the prosopographical information will also enable researchers to trace the movements of individuals and to establish their networks of relations. Visually, the GIS model will be an interactive map, and users will be able to run it according to different criteria. Results will appear as an atlas of sites matching these criteria. The user will thus be able to select each site and look for the geographical information and other data. From the GIS model, it will be possible to enter the databases – which will have to remain independent, even if interconnected – and vice versa, to enter the GIS model from the databases

Sketch of interaction between the GIS model and both databases of the DANUBIUS project.