Titolo della tesi: Cultural Identity in Roman Imperial and Early Christian Macedonia. A comparative study of the cemeteries in the Thessaloniki Prefecture.
This Thesis investigates the historical context, the topography of the organized cemeteries and the way they expanded during Late Antiquity, in the Prefecture of Thessaloniki, central Macedonia. The subject period spans from ca. AD 235 to 650. Specifically, the martyria, the cemetery basilicas, the other buildings that have been found within the necropolis and the various types of tombs discovered during this period in the city's cemeteries. In its first part the study establishes the theoretical framework of the investigation. The geographical domain is identified. The temporal domain is divided into an accepted and useful three–phase periodisation: a) the period of the spread of Christianity (ca. AD 50-313), b) the era of Church’s rise to social dominance (ca. AD 313-565) and c) the period of external incursions and invasions (late 6th-7th c. AD). The second part, which is the most important chapter, identifies and offers an extensive and as much detailed as possible analysis of all significant known cemeteries and tombs found in the city's pagan necropolis and Christian cemeteries. It is presented in two segments: the urban cemeteries of Thessaloniki (east and west); and the burial grounds of the surrounding district. The analysis is directed towards the geographical context of each site, its spatial distribution and orientation, the number of burials and their type, the grave goods, and the available demographic data. The epilogue draws together the conclusions of the study. The aim of the thesis is to present not only the change in burial practices over time, but the co–existence of different material forms and practices within one period. Moreover, to present a large amount of excavation material so that anyone reading the study will be in a position a) to come into contact with objects, ideas and ways of dealing with death and burial in the city of Thessaloniki in the Early Christian period, and b) to have this abundant and varied material at their disposal for comparative study whenever required, c) but also pointing out any variations or differences, as they emerged from their detailed comparative examination with examples of many similar tombs from other cemeteries reference to burial practices and customs. Finally, this study attempts to answer to the following: Are burial practices in this period reflect an interaction between pagans and Christians and, progression with the parallel use of old and new burial practices? Do the concepts of ‘hybridity’ and ‘interculturality’ have considerable utility in the interpretation of the change in material practices? Do these concepts permit the nature of the burial practices to be used as a means for the interpretation of the transition of societal forms in the relevant period?