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by Archaeology Newsroom

From paganism to Christianity. Ancient sanctuaries in Greece, that were converted to Early Christian Basilicas

Christianism was born and established in an atmosphere of a “Greco-Roman universalism”, as it was then represented by the Roman Empire. The transformation of the ancient world is also documented by the religious architecture: the Christian church was substituted for the pagan temple whose new uses were by necessity adapted to serve the needs of the new religion.

Ancient cultural edifices in mainland Greece, that were converted into Early Christian basilicas are located in the Peloponnese (Corinth, Nemea, Argos, Epidaurus, Tegea, Olympia), in Athens, Attica, Dodone, Corfu, the Cyclades ( the islands of Delos, Sikinos, Thera, Paros Naxos, Kea ), in the islands of Samos and Thasos in the Aegean. The typology of the Early Christian basilicas deriving from the transformation of pagan temples as a rule ,depends on the form of the ancient cultural edifice which is reused and adapted to the needs and functions of the new religion. Apart from the Greek temples converted into churches, others exist which, according to concrete excavational data, have been destroyed by the Christians. To this cause must be assigned the destruction – for practical reasons – of the Asclepieion in Athens, the damage suffered by the ancient temple at Palaeopolis on Corfu , the brutal shattering of the cult statue of Nemesis at Ramnous in Attica as well as the demolition of her temple.