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Landscapes i6 p&c 00 book.indb 179 2017.09.20. 16:22 i6 p&c 00 book.indb 180 2017.09.20. 16:22 BELIEVERS IN TRANSITION: PAGANISM TO CHRISTIANITY ALONG THE SOUTHWESTERN BLACK SEA COAST (4th–6th CENTURIES) Hristo Preshlenov This study presents the process of Christianization in the cities along the southwestern Black Sea region between the fourth and the sixth century primarily through the lens of archaeology, but using numismatic, epigraphic and hagiographical evidence as well. The region of the Black Sea coast comprised the Roman provinces of Scythia, Moesia Secunda and Haemimontus that maintained active contacts between the Lower Danube region and the Eastern Mediterranean. Its Roman cities—Tirissa/Acres on Cape Kaliakra, Dionysopolis (now Balchik), Odessos (Varna), the former Roman ro station Templum Iovis (Obzor), Mesembria (Nesebar), Anchialos (Pomorie), Debeltos (Debelt), and Apollonia/Sozopolis (Sozopol)—ministered the coastal border zone and were primary centers of material and cultural exchange (Figure 1). While the spread of Christianity in these areas is clearly visible in both textual and archaeological records, new Bulgarian archaeological research has uncovered important new findings allowing for innovative hypotheses about the development of new religious practices. Apart from Bulgarian-language scholarship, however, the confrontation between, and coexistence of, pagans and Christians along the Black Sea is hardly known. The aim of this chapter is to offer a synthesis and summary of some of the most important recent work. The Rise of the Bishop: Conciliar and Administrative Activity The first Christian communities appeared along the southwestern coast of the Black Sea in the first century as a result of the missionary preaching of the Apostles Saint Paul and Saint Andrew.1 With the rise of Christianity to the postition of state 1 Николай Кочев [Nikolay Kochev], Християнството през IV- началото XI в. [Christianity during the fourth to the beginning of the eleventh century]. (София: Хейзъл [Sofia: Heisăl], 1995), 9–10; Венцислав Каравълчев [Ventsislav Karavălchev], “Християнският Анхиало [The Christian Anchialus],” in Поморие: древност и съвремие [Pomorie: Past and Present], ed. Атанас Орачев [Atanas Orachev] et al. (Бургас: Геопан [Burgas: Geopan], 2011), 199 (hereafter Каравълчев, “Християнският Анхиало”). i6 p&c 00 book.indb 181 2017.09.20. 16:22 HRISTO PRESHLENOV 182 Figure 1. Tabula Peutingeriana. The Western Black Sea coast, rev. after ad 330 (after Атанас Орачев [Atanas Orachev], “Приноси към историята, археологията и географията на Анхиало [Contribution to the history, archaeology , and geography of Anchialo,” in Поморие: древност и съвремие [Pomorie: Past and Present], ed. Атанас Орачев [Atanas Orachev] et al. (Бургас: Геопан [Burgas: Geopan], 2011), 162–163). i6 p&c 00 book.indb 182 2017.09.20. 16:22 BELIEVERS IN TRANSITION 183 religion in the fourth century, bishops gained new prominence and growing visibility. Their new administrative functions are reflected in Roman legislation. Under these new conditions, a number of regions and cities in the Black Sea region, whose episcopacies claimed an apostolic origin, retained their authority and influence. The bishops of these cities participated at the Church councils in the fourth-, fifth- and sixth-centuries. The bishops of Anchialos and Mesembria were among the 318 Fathers at the First Ecumenical Council of Nicaea in 325.2 The Christian community of Anchialos was represented at the Council of Serdica in 343 by Bishop Timotheus, who became an Arian at the alternative council in Philippopolis. Bishop Sebastianos of Anchialos participated at the Council of Constantinople in 381.3 A certain Athanasios took part as the Bishop of Debeltos and Sozopolis at the Council of Ephesus in 431.4 The two cities were also presented at the Council of Chalcedon in 451, but already as two separate episcopacies . Bishop Iobinos of Debeltos and Bishop Olympius of Sozopolis also participated in the work of this council that condemned Monophysitism.5 The decisions of the council were supported by Bishop Dizas of Odessos. In 458, together with another 1600 bishops, Dizas signed a letter in response to query of the newly elected emperor, Leo I on the attitude of the bishops of the Eastern and Western church dioceses to the decisions of the council: the bishops condemned Monophysitism.6 In the following year, at the council of Constantinople convened by Patriarch Gennadius, two bishops of southwestern towns showed up: Sabbatios of Anchialos and Eustratios of Debeltos.7 At another council in Constantinople, in 518, Johannes of Odessos acted in canonical defense of the decisions of the Council of Chalcedon.8 At the Council of Constantinople in 553, Paulus of Anchialos did the same.9 Apart from their conciliar activity, the bishops of the border provinces sought to provide greater protection for their flock 2  Каравълчев, “Християнският Анхиало,” 203. Mαργαριτης Κωνστατινίδης, Ή Μεσημβρία του Ευξείου (Αθηναι: Γεωργιος Μεγας, 1945), 128, 131. 3 Рeter Soustal,Tabula Imperii Byzantini,6. Thrakien (Thrakē, Rodopē und Haimimontos) (Wien: Verlag der Österreichischen Akemie der Wissenschaften, 1991), 175 (hereafter Soustal,Tabula Imperii Byzantini). 175...


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