Bible Archaeology

Previously Unknown Christian Archbishopric Discovered in Bulgaria

Sofia News Agency:

Leading Bulgarian archaeologist Prof. Nikolay Ovcharov has discovered two archbishop’s seals proving the existence of a previously unknown Christian archbishopric in the Middle Ages.

Ovcharov has been excavating the Ancient Thracian rock city of Perperikon in the Rhodope Mountains for the past few years, and his finds have increasingly proven that Perperikon (also known as Hyperperakion) used to be a crucial urban center during the Middle Ages as well in the Byzantine Empire and the First and Second Bulgarian Empire, and not just in the Antiquity period.

The archaeologist presented Monday his latest find at Perperikon – two lead seals that belonged to Constantine, Archbishop of Archidos.

The archbishop’s seals were found in a building in Perperikon together with Byzantine coins from the time of Byzantine Emperor John I Tzimiskes (r. 969-976), Basil II the Bulgar-slayer (r. 976-1025), and Constantine VIII (1025-1028), i.e. in the late 10th and early 11th century, as well as from the second half of the 12th century.

According to the Bulgarian archaeologists from Ovcharov’s team, the newly found seals prove that a previously unknown Christian archbishopric – the Archidos Archbishopric – existed in the 10th-12th century in the Rhodope Mountains region, today’s Southern Bulgaria, and was headquartered in Perperikon (Hyperperakion).

The name Archidos is Greek. When translated in Bulgarian it means “Ohrid”. However, this toponym does not refer to the town of Ohrid in today’s Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) but to the Rhodope Mountain as Archidos was the name the Byzantines used for the Eastern Rhodopes.

Ovcharov says there is evidence to suggest that from the 4th to the 14th century Perperikon was a powerful Christian center with a number of bishop’s basilicas and seals, most of them dating to the 10th-12th century AD.

Over the 2011, Ovcharov’s team has been focusing on the eastern part of Perperikon and its acropolis.

The archaeologist says the complete restoration and conservation of Perperikon’s acropolis should be completed in 3 years, while BGN 4 M have already been secured for lighting and infrastructure of the top archaeological site. A new road connecting the village of Chernoochene near Kardzhali with Perperikon will be opened next week.

The archaeologists are also continuing to uncover the fortress walls of Perperikon, some of which are preserved of up to 3 meters in height.

Interesting stuff.

Bible Archaeology

Ancient Marble Statue of Hercules Found in Jezreel Valley

The Israel Antiquities Authority:

A marble statue of Hercules from the second century CE was uncovered in excavations the Israel Antiquities Authority is conducting at Horvat Tarbenet, within the framework of the Jezreel Valley Railway project, directed by the Israel National Roads Company

According to Dr. Walid Atrash of the Israel Antiquities Authority, “This is a rare discovery. The statue, which probably stood in a niche, was part of the decoration of a bathhouse pool that was exposed during the course of the excavations. It is c. 0.5 m tall, is made of smoothed white marble and is of exceptional artistic quality. Hercules is depicted in three dimension, as a naked figure standing on a base. His bulging muscles stand out prominently, he is leaning on a club to his left, on the upper part of which hangs the skin of the Nemean lion, which according to Greek mythology Hercules slew as the first of his twelve labors”.

More here.


Yet Another Church Bombed In Iraq

Asia News reports on yet another heinous attack on Christians in Iraq earlier today:

A bomb exploded last night near the St Ephraim Syrian Orthodox Church in Kirkuk, which is just a few hundreds of metres from the Chaldean cathedral, in central part of the city. The device blew up at 1.30 am and there were no victims. The damages to the church were however huge (pictured).

Today’s incident is the latest in a string of attacks against Christians and their places of worship. On 2 August, a car bomb exploded in front of the Holy Family Syrian Catholic Church, wounding 15 people. The bomb had been placed inside a car, parked near the building.

On the same day, another bomb also placed in a car parked near a Presbyterian church was defused before it went off.

Islamic fundamentalists, who remain very active, as well as groups involved in local feuds, have targeted Iraqi Christians.

With a population of 900,000, Kirkuk is located in Iraq’s most important oil fields. For years, it has been embroiled in a political fight among various ethnic groups, most notably Arabs, Turkmen and Kurds. The latter would like to see Kirkuk’s region annexed to Kurdistan, whilst Arabs and Turkmen would like it to remain directly linked to Iraq’s central government.

Again, please, prayers for our severely persecuted brethren there.



The Fathers on the Assumption

Writes Fr Z, WDTPRS:

4th Glorious Mystery: The Assumption

We do not know without a shadow of a doubt whether Mary died and was assumed body and soul into heaven or if she was assumed without dying.   We know with our Catholic faith, and by infallible authority, that at the end of her earthly life, the Mother of God was assumed into heaven and no stain of corruption touched her, in life or death.

Perhaps a good explanation is that Our Blessed Mother, desiring to be like her Son, who did die, chose herself to die though Satan had no hold on her.  It was fitting that she, the daughter of her Son and disciple of Her Lord, should be as He was.  So, if that is the case, and she did die, then after a brief interval during which no corruption touched her, her soul and body were reunited in heaven in the presence of God.

We don’t have a definitive teaching on this, clarifying once and for all, but it was fitting that the Mother of God, who had never known the stain of sin, while requiring a Redeemer just like every other human being, should not experience the corruption of the grave.

Our humanity is seated at the right hand of the Father in the divine Person of our Lord, but now also in the human person of our Lady.

Christ is consubtantial with the Father.  Christ is consubstantial with His mother.  Mary is Mother of a divine Person with two natures.  She is not Mother of part of Christ, but Mother of all of Christ in His integrity.  And so, we can call her Mother of God and Mother of the Church.  Her heavenly Assumption was fitting.

There are not elaborate reflections in the writings of the Fathers on the Assumption, because it was not a main point of reflection.  Still, we can find their thoughts on some passages of Scripture which help us to understand Mary’s role in the plan of our salvation…

Read more on this the Patristic Rosary Project: Fourth Glorious Mystery, here.