BSA Friends’ Virtual Lecture
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Prof. Rebecca Sweetman (BSA, Director), “Sparta Acropolis: Memory, Tradition and Christianization”
Abstract: In 2000, the British School at Athens, in collaboration with the Byzantine Eforia at Sparta, returned to the then so-called church of Osios Nikon on the Acropolis of Sparta. Although the BSA had undertaken excavations on the site nearly a century before that, they had never been published and fundamental questions relating to the date of the church, architectural phases its dedication and the wider context in which it was constructed had never been addressed. The work in Sparta then led to a comprehensive study of the Late Antique churches of the Peloponnese which I undertook between 2011 and 2014. An examination of the contextualized topographic analysis of the churches and with the application of theories of memory and tradition, it quickly became clear that contrary to accounts in the literary sources that processes of Christianization were more peaceful and gradual than purported.
In this paper I will first introduce some of the recent work of the BSA on the Sparta acropolis, before turning to the Acropolis Basilica and the wider context of Christianization in the Peloponnese. The aim is to suggest alternative views to the traditional idea of destructive change with the coming of Christianity in Greece.
Tuesday 6 December 2022, 5pm (UK) / 7pm (Greece)