GOLDEN TREASURE: EARLY CHRISTIANITY ON THE STEPPES

GOLDEN TREASURE: FROM THE GREEKS TO KYIVAN RUS SECTIONS:

  • Kyivan Hoards
  • Early Christianity on the Steppes
  • The Great Migration: Romans, Goths, Huns, Slavs
  • Greek Colonies on the Black Sea
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EARLY CHRISTIANITY ON THE STEPPES

 

Christianity came to the northern shores of the Black Sea in the early centuries AD. According to biblical sources, the fisherman Andrew, brother of Apostle Peter, preached his faith on the Black Sea shores.

Christian missionaries enthusiastically converted the nomads of the northern Black Sea steppe. As the 4th century translator of the Bible Jerome wrote in one of his letters, “Chilly Scythians are warmed with the glow of the faith.” In 313, Roman Emperor Constantine granted tolerance to all religions of the vast Roman Empire whose center now moved to Byzantium. Christian dioceses were established in Crimea. The Byzantines built large basilicas in their fortresses dotting the coastline. Christian symbolism became popular among the mixed nomadic population beginning in the 6th century. United by Christianity and Byzantine culture, local Goths, Sarmatians, Huns and Slavs wore pendants, buckles and finger rings with Christian symbols.  Byzantine churches and monasteries clung to the rocky Black Sea shores despite regular nomadic incursions.

Under Byzantine influence, Kyivan Rus became part of eastern Christendom. There was a Christian church in Kyiv as early as 900. In 988, Crimea was the site of an eventful conversion: Kyivan Prince Vladimir was baptized into the Christian faith in Chersonesus effectively spreading Christianity throughout Kyivan Rus.

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ANCIENT OIL LAMPS

Numerous oil lamps have survived from ancient times. One of the oldest human inventions, an oil lamp was in use over 15, 000 thousand years ago when cavemen were still around. A prehistoric lamp was found in a cave at Lasceau, in France.

Romans employed mold casting for the mass production of oil lamps, and lamps of the Roman type spread through Pax Romana, including the northern Black Sea region. Designs offered myths and legends, games, hunting etc. The red clay lamp (item 2) features the figure of a man holding a lit torch in his hand, perhaps referring to Prometheus who gave fire to mortals.

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IMAGE CITATION:

1. Wine Jug (Oenochoe), 3rd-4th Centuries A.D.

Transparent glass, blue: blown into form

2. Chalice,  7th-9th Centuries A.D.

glass, gold: bowling, engraving, embossing

3.  Reliquary, 6th-7th Century A.D.

Glass, gold: molding

4. Chain with Pendant, 5th-6th Centuries A.D.

Gold: hammering, soldering, repousse

5.  Cross,  12-13th Centuries A.D.

Iron, silver: plating, casting, forging, screw-threading, stamping

6.  Closed Type Lamp,  5th-6th Centuries A.D.

Ceramics: forming, stamping

7. Closed Type Lamp,  2nd-1st Centuries B.C.

Ceramics: made on potter’s wheel

8.  Closed Type Lamp,  1st Century A.D.

Ceramics: made in mold

9.  Lamp, 3rd Century A.D.

Bronze: molding

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Next Section:  The Great Migration