DANUBIUS Project : Ecclesiastical Organisation and Christian Topography of the Lower Danube during Late Antiquity (3rd-8th Centuries AD)
The 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). This project is thus reconsidering the question, both in terms of history and archaeology, for a better understanding of the simultaneous evolution of the ecclesiastical organisation and the Christian topography in the Eastern Danubian world during Late Antiquity. To do so, two databases were set up: 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 In order to provide the first of these databases with unpublished data, a field case study on the Late Roman site of Zaldapa (Krushari, Bulgaria), which has so far been little studied, despite its major historical importance, complements the work.
Principal investigator: Dominic Moreau
Project being finalized
This project, which is the first stage of a long-term international and interdisciplinary research programme, is focusing on the last reaches of the Danube to have been lost by Constantinople, which is also the part of the river which is best documented from literary sources, viz. the territory covered by the Late Roman provinces of Dacia Ripensis, Moesia Secunda and Scythia, together with Cherronesus Taurica, as a bordering comparative element outside the Empire.
To reach the targets, a geographic information system (GIS) model of the episcopal sees and other Christian sites is in production. It is structured around three work packages:
> the first one foresees 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 is unique for the study of Christianity in the region, as it is a very large fortified city with several churches, abandoned at the beginning of the 7th century and never really reoccupied since;
> 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 volumes of the Prosopographie chrétienne du Bas-Empire series for Central and Eastern Europe.
Globally, this collection of data and case studies is the laboratory for innovative conceptual tools and a new synthesis.
The GIS model is placed at the apex of all three work packages, because it brings 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 of ancient Christianity. Also, the tool refers to the available Christian prosopographical information for each site. By combining all this information, it is 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 also enables 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 associated 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.
Appendix – The implementation of the GIS model of the DANUBIUS project has led to the production of an original tool which complements it and prepares for the extension of the study area to the whole of Central and Eastern Europe: the Historical Atlas of Episcopal Sees in Central and Eastern Europe up to 787 (AHSEECO – HAESCEE).
Sketch of interaction between the GIS model and both databases of the DANUBIUS project (© D. Moreau).