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CHRISTIAN TOPOGRAPHY IN SOPIANAE’S LATE ANTIQUE CEMETERIES1 Zsolt Visy Sopianae’s Roman cemeteries, now a World Heritage Site,2 constitute a poig­ nant monument of the transition from, and cohabitation of, paganism and Christianity in the fourth century. The tombs, burial chambers and mausolea offer a glimpse into the lively Roman civilization in Pannonia, only decades preceding the collapse of the Roman world. Tombs were the last citadels of Romanitas in a period when the Empire was rapidly disintegrating and Rome receeded into the distance. In the three hundred years since the discovery of the painted burial chambers in 1716, scholars dealt intensely with the question of the religious denomination of the tombs—a difficult task because of the almost complete lack of funerary inscriptions. Inspired by recent theoretical work and new excavation campaigns this paper offers a synthesis of novel scholarly approaches to the Christian funeral topography in Sopianae and indicates avenues of further research. Sopianae in the Christian Empire A minor city in Roman Pannonia, Sopianae (Pécs) saw her glory days in Late Antiquity. Prior to the Marcomannic Wars in the first half of the second century, the indigenous settlement composed of several smaller properties and villas was an average provincial vicus. Its spectacular growth started in the Severan period when the small, partially underground homes and workshops were replaced by a Roman city and an organized network of streets with a forum, government buildings, shrines and a bath 1 This paper is an updated version of my „The Late Roman Cemeteries of Sopianae” in E. Tóth – T. Vida – I. Tak ács (eds.), Saint Martin and Pannonia. Christianity on the Frontiers of the Roman World. Exhibition catalogue. (Pannonhalma–Szombathely 2016), 68–76. I thank Marianne Sághy for her revision of the text. 2  Krisztina Hudák and Levente Nagy, A Fine and Private Place. Discovering the Early Christian Cemetery of Sopianae /Pécs.Translated by Marianne Sághy. Pécs: Örökség Kht, 2008. (Henceforth: Hudák-Nagy, A Fine and Private Place.) i6 p&c 00 book.indb 273 2017.09.20. 16:22 ZSOLT VISY 274 in the center. Given the lack of written documents, we can only hypothesize that the settlement must have been raised to the rank of municipium. At the end of the third century, new barbarian attacks on Pannonia Inferior led to Sopianae’s partial destruction , followed by ostentatious restoration and recovery in the 270s, evidenced by the repair and construction of urban buildings and by the increasing number of imperial coins issued by Roman emperors originating from neighboring Illyricum.3 Sopianae became an important transportation hub, best illustrated by the Itinerarium Antonini, a second-third century register of Roman roads. Stemming from the imperial road linking Byzantium (Istanbul) and Augusta Treverorum (Trier), several roads branched out from the city to Pannonian settlements such as Carnuntum (Petronell), Brigetio (Szőny), or Aquincum (Budapest).4 In 296, as a result of the Tetrarchy’s administrative reform that separated the civil from the military administration, Pannonia Inferior—the eastern region of the former Pannonia provincial—was yet again partitioned along the River Drava to Pannonia Secunda and Pannonia Valeria—named after Emperor Diocletian’s daughter, wife of Emperor Galerius. Thecenter of the military administration—presided by a dux of the equestrian order as commander of the provincial army—remained in Aquincum, but the seat of the praeses (also of the equestrian order) must have been transferred to Sopianae. Written evidence is yet again lacking, but two sources offering indirect information support this suggestion. Recent archaeological excavations in the center of Pécs unearthed extensive fourth-century constructions: this led to the hypothesis that the boom of the Roman city—attested by the proliferation of stately villas in the suburbium as well—, must have resulted from Sopianae’s political upgrading that caused an influx of administrative officials.5Ammianus Marcellinus indirectly reinforces the hypothesis about Sopianae’s function as a provincial seat. He mentions Maximinus, a prominent politician executed by Gratianus in 376, who was born in Sopianae (apud Sopianas), to a family of administrators in the office of the praeses (patre tabulario praesidialis 3 Zsolt Visy, “Sopianae története” (History of Sopianae), In: Pécs története I. Az őskortól a püspökség megalapításáig (History of Pécs I. From the Neolithic to the foundation of the bishopric). (Pécs: PécsTörténete Alapítvány-Kronosz Kiadó 2013), 93–152. (Henceforth: Pécs...


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