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. 930.85.033.1 (497.



Early Christian Kultural Centers in Republic of Macedonia along

the Via Egnatia

The Roman province of Macedonia, as its first province in the Balkans, had a special
place for the Roman Empire. Formed in 148-146 B.C.E. functioned as the main base for
the conquest of the north and northeast. 1 Macedonia was the only Balkan area with
developed urban life before the arrival of the Romans, 2 if we exclude the colonies on the
Adriatic. In the time of the Roman Empire from ancient sources we have verification of

In AD 140, realizing the importance of this shortest, long drawn connection of Rome with
Balkans, along the course of the river Vardar, the Romans will modernize it and rename it Via
Egnatia, by the proconsul Gnei Egnatius. It will turn into one of the most important roads of
Roman Empire. In Heraclea Linkestis the road was divided into two routes, one led through
Pella to Solun, the second through Tranupara and Astibo led to Pautalia, therefore continued to
Serdica and ended in Constantinople. Through the Balkans and from the centers along this road
will spread the impact of the Byzantine* art in west, and here will also pass the main forces of
the Crusaders.
* - Two points of terminology: "Byzantine" the word and the concept are rather modern inventions that
were unknown to the ancient and medieval world. The designation of the empire as "Byzantine" began in
Western Europe in 1557 (more than 100 years after the fall of Constantinople and the Eastern Roman
empire) when German historian Hieronymus Wolf published his collection of historical sources "Corpus
Histori Byzantin". The continued use of this word perpetuates misleading assumptions, and there is a
serious case for avoiding it altogether, though the impracticality of this is obvious.

Nade Proeva Archaeological Map of the Republic of Macedonia, Vol.1, p.124.

some 100 cities in Macedonia, which number in the late empire dropped to 30. 3 The
territory of today's Republic of Macedonia in the late antiquity by major part was
comprised within the dioceses of Macedonia Prima and Secunda, and with lesser parts in
lllyricum Prefecture and Dacia Mediterranea, and was divided into at least five provinces.4
Macedonian Archaeology and History of Art is a notable for the use of two terms for the
same period, two stylistic directions and artistic contexts that existed in parallel - late
antiquity and early christianity. These terms refer to the standard Roman architecture and
construction techniques, conservative pagan art of the last centuries of the empire,
represented primarily by grave incisions, decorative sculptures and mosaics, but also
refers to early christian art from 4th to 6th century. These are the data and exhibits in
museum collections, exhibitions and catalogs. Some scholars also use the coinage christian antiquity.5
The term Late Antiquity should be applied as a general framework for the period, but not
for the art, in which structure simultaneously were in function the ancient traditions and
techniques, late Antiquity (pagan) and academic art. But it is also notable for the intense
manifestation of a brand new style in the iconography and new objects the christian
temples. This early christian art has its own local, oriental and eastern manifestations,
which will become part of the distinguished (so-called) "Byzantine" artistic expression,
and will be strongly reflected in the architecture. Late Classical architectural features are
mostly present in the patterns and motifs that continue to be used as frames or filling
nonfigurative fields in the mosaics. Anyway, after the acquisition of the status 'Provincia
Inermis' Macedonia will keep the economic role of an important bridge between Rome
and Asia.
Beginnings of the early christian art have much more in common with Judaic art then with
official Roman state art, concluded many researchers, and among the first Andre Grabar.6

The Roman Empire was founded by August Eighth** (Avgustus Octavius) in 27 g. of old age,
after the collapse of the first Roman Republic (509-27 BC), and lasted until the division of the
West ("Latin") and East ("Byzantine") Roman Empire made of Emperor Flavij Theodosius
(Flavius Theodosius) in 395 g. of our era.
** - the numbers in the Roman emperors names do not designate dynastic order, but were designation of
the order of birth in the family: first child, second...

They are: Dardania with Skupi (Skopje); Epirus with Nova Durachion; Dacia Mediterranea
with Serdica; Macedonia Secunda with Stobi; and Macedonia Prima with Solun. Less likely that
the Polog belonged to Prvalitana province, because of the mountains, almost non traversable
barrier. Viktor Lilcic "Macedonian stone gods, Christians and life after life", II vol Macedonian
Civilization, 2002, 531. Mikulcic "Ancient cities in Macedonia", MANU, Skopje, 1999, 207221, thinks that Polog with Shara describe the northwest corner of the province of Macedonia
and bordered Prvalitana (op. cit., 217).
Elizabeta Dimitrova, "Forty-first psalm of David - iconographic paradigm kristijanskata
Antiquity" Patrimonium 1-2, 65-76.
Grabar, Andr. "Recherches sur les sources juives de lart palochrtien: II, Les mosaiques de
pavement." Cahiers archologiques 12 (1962): pp. 115-152.

In Macedonian literature the early christian episcopal centers-cities even today are
clasified as a late antiquity cities, and dual formula is used - late antiquity / early
'Byzantine' cities, and all the analysis of the artifacts and material culture speak mostly
about early christian churches and findings.7 (Last) annual archaeological exhibitions in
Macedonia Museums in the description of certain subjects and sites conclusively use
appropriate term - Early Christian or/and Early Byzantine.8
Art and cultural centers
Immediately after every barbarian breakthrough, almost as a rule, artistic output resulted
with major delays and changes, so the dating of certain construction activities, when not
precisely indicated, usualy is placed in peaceful decades and periods of great progress.
After the attacks of the Huns in AD 447, seventy Macedonian cities were destroyed and
pillaged, so the refuge and castles became safer places to live. In the second half of the 6 th
century because of the attacks of the Bulgar, Avar and other tribes in the Balkans, emperor
Justinian I, among other things, restored and built numerous fortifications in the area of
the East and Central Balkans, which is mentioned in 'De deciis' by Procopius.9
Using the Via Egnatia, Avaro/Bulgar raid-incursions reached Solun in the eighth and ninth
decade of the 6th century. How is that evident in the field today? Only the strongest and
the most strategically important northern fortifications continued to function (Konjuh,
Vodno and Davina uer, Skopje, Upper Dissan, Demir Kapia, Valandovo). 10 These
fortresses from the 6th century are preserved better than the older, often amounting to
several meters above the ground. Preservation itself of the fortifications and buildings in
their interior is impressive, which is a result, primarily, of the applied technique of
building eplekton, basic mass-core of smaller stones poured with much of mortar and
lime which was used immediately and still hot , which gave greater flexibility to the walls.
The first major cultural centers of the Early Christian Art were Constantinople, Solun and
Ravena. Eastern Roman empire experienced flourishing and greatest territorial expansion
during the rule of emperor Justinian I the Great (AD 527-565). He regulated the
construction of church buildings. In the Novella no.67 from AD 538, donors who planned
to finance a part or full church building and its decoration, were ordered to assure the
competent episcope by giving guarantees of having sufficient funds for the construction of
the facility and its maintenance and operation.

It is probably due to the lesser presence of preserved representative ancient art material in these
centers, and to numerous changes. Ancient sculptures were used as building material (Heraclea)
which during the intense early christian era have been demolished, the material of them used, or
found in the forums and temples, and they are covered with a layer of earth (Theatre in Stobi,
Heraclea, and somewhere flooded by a nearby river - Stobi forum) or readapted (the Heraclean
Gate-forum in Stobi became atrium episcopal basilica).
Boban Petreski, Late-ancient/early-byzantine settlements in Polog (6 th century), Macedonian
Heritage (Makedonsko Nasledstvo) number 34-35 (2009 ), 77-81.
Procopii Caeseriensis Opera Omnia, red. J. Hurs, ed. G.Wirth, De di cies, vol. IV, Lipsiae
, 1, , 140.

In the previous early period of the christian art (4-5 century) great influence came from
eastern countries, where the oriental traditions have long been merged with Macedonian.
During the developed 6th century, as a eastern cultural centers with strong influences are
distinguished Alexandria, Antioch, Jerusalem and Ephesus. Their influence was often
transcended by the objects of applied art diptychs, covers, books, sacred and liturgical
In the Macedonian Archaeology no object or piece of art is cited or linked with some of
the many heretical movements from early christianity centuries, because there is no
cooperation with theologians and art historians specializing in this area. Although, it is
known from sources that some Episcopal centers often deviated from official policy of
Constantinople, and tied with Rome (Solun, Lychnidos, etc.), or jurisdiction of these
dioceses shifted. So, as a counterweight on western influence in the 6th century Episcopacy
in Justiniana Prima was established. It is probably due to this numerous modifications and
lesser presence of preserved representative ancient artefacts in these centers. More ancient
sculptures were used as building material (Heraclea), or are found in the forums and
temples during the intense early christian life, which were already been destroyed, the
material of them used, and they were covered with a layer of earth (the theatre in Stobi,
Heraclea) and somewhere also flooded by a nearby river (the forum in Stobi a) , or
readapted (the Gate Forum in Heraclea Stobi became atrium of the Episcopal basilica).
Church plans of the Macedonian churches
In Macedonia, as in the Eastern Roman Empire, 12 most of the remains of the church
buildings, basilicas and preserved stone furniture and mosaics are from the second half of
the 5th century (when the figurative art returned) and 6 th century. In the 6th century
architectural sculpture and art mosaic experience full expansion in Macedonia because of
demographic and economic development of the Eastern Roman Empire between AD 380
and AD 550. Also the church increases their wealth, as well as its role in the management
of cities and villages. By the time of Justinian I (second and third quarter of the 6 th
century) basilicas in: Begov Dab (near Makedonska Kamenica), St.Spas at Matka Canyon
and the basilica "A" from Davina Tower in Skopje, funeral basilica in Skupi, small
basilica at Heraclea, Extra Muros basilica in Stobi, Sv.Atanas in the village Pokrvenik
(Struga), basilica of Suvodol, the second phase of the Episcopal basilica in Bargala,
basilica in the village of Krupite, the village of Krivi Dol and tip (Astibo), rotonda and
the newest basilica in the village of Konjuh discovered in 2009, the construction (probably
the ancient Memoria?) near the village of Tudence, the Eighth and the Palikurskata
basilica in Stobi, basilica in the village of Drenovo discovered in 2009, etc.. Most
basilicas are concentrated around big urban centers and episcopacies. However, basilicas
are built almost in all regions and especially in the valleys and highlands in Pelagonia.


Riard Krauthajmer, Slobodan uri, Early Christian & Byzantine Architecture,

Gradjevinska Knjiga, Beograd 2008.
J.P.Sodini, C.Barsanti, A.G.Guidobaldi, "La sculpture architecturale en marbre au VI siecle a
Constantinople et dans les regions sous in uence Constantinopolitaine", ACTA XIII CIAC,
Split 1998, 301-376, 301.

These are ordinary village churches. Larger opidums (Vinica Fortress) and small guardcastles (Kale Svilari Upper or Kuka, Rogle) also have their own churches, which are less
explored. There are roadside and monastery basilica with large atriums acceptance
travelers, foreigners and sick. (Table I)13
In the 6th century appeared basilicas with a dome and begins the expansion of churches
with a central plan and masonry domes (polyconchal church in Ohrid Imaret-Plaoshnik,
which imitates the tetranon plan of Resafa in Syria; combination of narrow trapezoid and
rotunda Konjuh; circular Church Krupite), and free cross, which according to some was
invented in Israel and Syria, and is characteristic in the time of Justinian I rule. 14 This
architecture limited the application of architectural sculpture in front of windows and
pillars with capitol domes and church furniture.15
Apart from archaeological findings, for the history of architecture are very significant the
several early Christian architectural plans engraved on brick or stone from Lychnidos, the
village of Krupite, village Suica near Skopje, which are another valuable information
that adds to our knowledge. Archaeological excavations and scattered architectural
plastics in the vicinity and within the church facilities on the territory of diocese
Macedonia show over 50 basilicas, mostly located in the cities with the Episcopal status.
Reliably located are five episcopacies and within their boundaries: eight basilicas in Stobi,
three in Heraclea, three in Bargala, two in Skupi, and over 8 in the region of Lihnidos (St.
Erasmus, Plaoshnik, under St. Sofia, villages Studenishta, Radolishta Oktisi, etc.). Three
episcopacies superiors: Zapara (Krupishte and/or Konjuh, latter considered by Mikulcic as
Tranupara),16 Doberos (Isar the village of Marvinci, Valandovo), Tiberiopolis (Strumica).17
Discovered are also over 250 early christian basilicas outside of these episcopacies 18
within the fortresses that in the 5th-6th century were about five hundred,19 or within the
other 30 cities. Thereby only the old Episcopal basilica in Stobi is dated to the 4 th century
(AD 325). From AD 371 is the City Gate in Bargala, which has a preserved inscription.20


Images available in the Macedonian original (at the bottom of the paper) here:
Krauthajmer, uri, " Early Christian & Byzantine Architecture ", p. 137-156.
Sodini, Barsanti, Guidobaldi, "La sculptura architecturale", p. 303.
Ivan Mikulcic "Ancient cities in Macedonia", Skopje 1999, p. 359-60.
Kiril Trajkovski, "Three new episcopal centers east of the Vardar", "The Christian idea vo
istorijata and culture of Europe," Proceedings Sciences, 114-119. Mikulcic believes that this
name of Strumica was used only in the early empire, and later was replaced by Doberos.
"Ancient cities in Macedonia", 359-360.
V. Lilcic "The Macedonian stone",Vol II, p. 516; I.Mikulcic "Ancient cities in Macedonia," on
p. 322 states that on different sites are recorded the remains of at least 300, maybe 320 early
christian churches.
Mikulcic, "Ancient Cities in Macedonia ", 208. The author states that the total length of the
late antiquity borderline now in R. of Macedonia is around 950 km, along which were
identified at least 130 fortified castles.
Blaga Aleksova, Cyril Mango, Bargala: A Preliminary Report, DOP 25, (1971): 265-281

The Centralized type of churches are very rare (Plaoshnik, Konjuh) and more frequent are
unicolonnaded, which in the literature is often mistakenly referred to as unicolonnaded
basilicas (around Skopje - Orman, Davina Tower, on the island Golem Grad, Tudence near
Tetovo, village of Chebren, heroon-Martyrius near Veles, etc.). In the dominant threecolonnades basilicas distinguished by the presence or the absence of the atrium, 21 which
may be caused by the position of the church and the lack of space atrium. Only in the case
of the three-colonnades basilica on Plaoshnik the atrium is positioned on the north side.22
Episcopal or northern basilica of the 6th century in Kale, village of Krupishte (probably
Zapara?)23 is a five-colonnaded, where only the final lateral apses are semicircular both
outside and inside, and the central bigger and the other two are triple-sided according to
the plan study by B. Aleksova, and according to Mikulcic they are all semicircular. 24 The
plan of Aleksova, which studied the facility in 1984, resembles most closely the church in
Kjurline near Ni. Apses churches are mostly semicircular outside and inside, with a few
exceptions when the outside appears square or trapezoid shape (so called rotonda in
Konjuh, Heraclea small basilica, church in Tudence, 5-6 century basilica in Skupi, the
basilica in Crkvishte, Zelenikovo). So far the only example of an apse melt within the wall
table has the recently discovered basilica from the village of Drenovo. 25 Larger apses have
strengthenings from outside in form of contrafores (polyconchal church at Plaoshnik, the
great basilica in Heraclea. In Macedonian part of the province Dacia Mediterranea the
churches often have three apses, triple from the outside, while in Macedonia Secunda they
are standard, with semicircular apses outside and inside, with narthex in 85% of the
churches, which have annexes.26 Polygonal apses are common in Constantinople in the 5th
and 6th century.27 Basilicas width is almost as much as their length in the territory of Dacia
Mediterranea, concludes C.Snively, and the central is usually bigger than lateral
colonnades. The ceilings are visually separated by columns instead of pilars in the
basilicas of Macedonia Secunda, including sometimes parapet slabs. (Table II)28
The possibility for some basilicas and churches in dioceses Macedonia that were
monasteries was last addressed by C.Snively.29 She lists the basilica Palikura and two

Viktor Lilcic "Early Christian Church", Skopje, 2003, p. 180,184.

Vera Bitrakova "Lychnidos in the early Christian period and the urban core," "Jubilee
collection - 25 Metropolitan Timothy", MPC-OA, Ohrid, 2006, p. 257-268, 261.
Completely discovered in 2001. The basilica was firstly registered by Dimche Koco in 1961,
when it is revealed only the apse. Koco, 1967, p. 257-266.
Blaga Aleksova "Bregalnica Episcopacy", Prilep 1989, p. 88-89, Fig. 118, 277; Mikulcic,
"Ancient Cities", p. 346, sim.p. 222.
V.Gjorgjieva K.Filipova,V.Lilcic, "Early Christian basilica in village Drenovo". Macedonian
Heritage (Makedonsko Nasledstvo) number 34-35, p. 67-76.
Marina Onchevska "Great early Christian basilica Skupi and Early Christianity". Macedonian
Heritage (Makedonsko Nasledstvo) number 35-36, p. 97-110,112.
C.Snively, "Dacia Mediteranea and Macedonia Secunda in the 6 th century, the question of
innuence on church architecture", Nish and Byzantium 3, 213-260, 2005, 221.
Images available in the Macedonian original (at the bottom of the paper) here:
C.Snively, "Shaping Community: The Art and Archaeology of Monasticism", BAR
International Series, 941, 2001, p. 57-64, 60-61.

small churches outside of Heraclea (these two Mikulcic considered only roadside, not a
monastery, roadside and perhaps monastery he also considers those in Studenchitsa,
Radolishta, St.Erasmus, Mutichanski Dol, etc.).30 They were all near the Via Egnatia.
According to Snively, discovery of the xenodocheion in the basilica Palikura in 1992.
strengthens the assumption raised 81 years before from R.Eger of its monastic purpose.
Also two tabletss with an inscription from Bitola and another 4 inscriptions from the
central parts of dioceses Macedonia, talk about monastic life of male monks. More
numerous are nuns gravestone inscriptions in Greece,31 which were appointed in
Macedonia as eternal virgins or diaconesses that are often present as tutors of the mosaics
(Stobi, Plaosnik). According to Mikulcic monastery churches in Macedonia appeared in
the second half of the 5th century and were in hilly terrain (Transfiguration in the village of
Bukovo, basilica near the village Krstoar beside Bitola, Mutichanski Dol near Drenovo,
Archaeological excavations in monastery Treskavec near Prilep suggest early Christian
church, which saved parapet panels, which very likely was also monastery.33
Although the emperor Zenon in the constitution around AD 480 ordered that every city
should have its own episcope, according to Sinkdemot Hierokl of 527 in the province
of Macedonia Prima are indicated 32 episcopacies, and in the Macedonia Secunda 8,
which is almost twice lower than recommended. Mikulcic suggests only twenty churchseats cities of late 6th century, which means only half of those known in the sources. 34
All Episcopal basilica and one of the basilicas whose purpose is not known, in its structure
or close had a baptistery. Largest in dimension are two, one associated with the Episcopal
basilica in Stobi, which could be used in the winter too, and the one associated with the
basilica on Plaoshnik, discovered a decade ago. Others are much smaller, and somewhere
are visible two stages - building of two baptisteries next to each other in the same object
(Bargala). The shape from inside is circle with 1 or 2 access stairs, and with larger,
hexagonal outer wall, with semicircular niches outside (basilica 'A' in Heraclea, Stobi,
baptistery at the episcopal basilica Plaoshnik - the new basilica, or later cruciform - Stene
in Polog, Bargala episcopal basilica and younger type gets four niches outside). According
to M. anak-Medi and Mikulci, the oldest type, and the oldest cult construction is


I. Mikulic, "Ancient Cities in Macedonia", p. 318. These are: the basilica outside of Bitola, in
the village. Bistrica, then in Ohrid, in the village. Radolista in Studenichishta or St. Erazmo
along the Via Egnatia.
William R. Caraher, Church, Society and the Sacred in Early Christian Greece, 2003
(Doctorate Dissertation defended at the cathedra of The Ohio State University; p. 311-312.
I. Mikulcic "Ancient cities in Macedonia," p. 318.
Vasco Risteski "Early christian stone sculptures from the monastery Treskavec near Prilep,"
Macedonian Heritage (Makedonsko Nasledstvo) number 20, 2002; p. 61-70.
Mikulcic "Ancient cities in Macedonia", 323, despite known Heraclea Bargala, Stobi
Lihnidos Skupi lists: Nikkei Dolenci = Zovic = Antania Vodovrati = Argos Vinica = Kalenidin
Kamenica = Armonia Demir Kapija = Stenae Koljuh = Tranupara Shopur = Astraeium Cucer
= Neutina Strumica = Doberos Krupiste = Zappara.

situated in Heraklea (under the basilica 'A') and is probably from the 4th century. Such
dating suggests Lilci for the 1st phase of the Episcopal basilica baptistery in Stobi.35
Quadratic baptisteries seem common for smaller churches and in the 6 th century (Dreveno,
Peshnik near Kratovo).36 The only quadratic baptistery of Plaoshnik on the bottom
contains mosaic with two peacocks and fountain. Remains an enigma the existence of
several baptisteries in three basilicas that also operated in the city of Stobi (attached or
part of the Episcopal northern and central basilica), and in two out of town (so-called
basilica '8' or Extra Muros, and the basilica Palikura) and three baptistery within the same
church (Stene in Polog).37
Of objects that are not basilican and will contain a baptistery well mention the
polyconchal church at Plaoshnik, which is of cruciform type and is itself a four-leafed,
which Mikulcic considered as martyrium, perhaps that of St.Erasmus. 38
There are many so-called annexes, or square rooms separated by a wall or connected with
the open side of the narthex single-colonade churches that perhaps served as diaconate or
baptistery, but it is not confirmed by findings or other indications. 39
In the Middle Ages monastery churches will have in their own structure separate roomschapels with a different purposes, of which the excavations in these early christian objects
didnt bring a plausible conclusion to what they may be related (graves, prayer cells,
hospital, part of the bell tower, etc.).40
Basilicas orientation varies even within the same city (with the exception of Heraclea),
and is most diverse of basilicas in Bargala where not even one has the eastern orientation
of the altar space.
Only in the Episcopal basilica in Stobi is noted the existence of an underground crypt
covered with semi-cylindrical vault, in the south-colonnade at a depth of 1.75 m below the
apsidal floor, with around hallway for the believers to worship the relics, which are
accessed through a door in the apsidal wall.41


Lilcic " Macedonian Stone" II, 835.

I.Mikulcic "Ancient cities in Macedonia," p. 311.
Velimir Cvetanovski "City Stene", Macedonian Heritage (Makedonsko Nasledstvo) number
29, 2006; p. 31-46, 39.
I.Mikulcic, "Ancient cities in Macedonia", p. 320.
For example, in the vicinity of Prilep. Kostadin Kepeski "Early Christian basilica in Dunje,
Mariovo" in "Acta Archaeologica" 16, p. 245-257, fig.2. - there are two annexes, one circular
and square behind him, placed south of the narthex and tied with it.
Svetlana Popovic, "Chapels distribution in the byzantine monasteries", Announcements
XXVII-XXVIII 1995/6, 23-39.
B. Aleksova, "Loca Sanctorum Macedonia", p. 41-78, 165.

Other so-called crypts for sacred objects are a few tens of centimeters below the altar
floor, usually under the altar table, and its shape is like in early baptistery, cruciform.42
Position of the pulpits vary, but are located within the central colonade retail, moving
slightly toward south (Stobi, Bargala, or a little to the north - small pulpit in Konjuh
Basilica, and this is the only documented example of a basilica with two pulpits in the
Republic of Macedonia).43 The most beautifully is the pulpit of the Episcopal basilica in
Stobi crafted in ajour technique, parts of which were taken in the National Museum in
Belgrade, Serbia, after the excavation, and simple but technically very high-quality crafted
pulpit from Bargala. Curious is the iconography of the pulpit of the Konjuh rotonda that
shows eastern influence.44
Cults in Macedonia
Numerous martyriums, crypts, relics, paintings and a large number of churches talk about
early developed popular martyr cults (Musonius in Bargala, St.Forty Martyrs in Ohrid,
Vodocha, St.Fifteen Tiberiopolis Martyrs in Strumica, and other places), as Saints
St.Andrea (newly discovered carved plate from Vinica), St.Dimitri on wider territory,
Archangel Michael, St.Theodore and St.Christopher (Vinica), St.Erasmus (Ohrid), the cult
of the Virgin (Episcopal basilica in Bargala) and Christ (The Good Shepherd Episcopal
basilica in Stobi) cult of the cross (Vinica, Bargala - mosaic in the new basilica altar
before entering the altar, presentations of cross and lamb on the pulpit ), etc.45
On the territory of today Republic of Macedonia 4th century and half of the 5th century was
marked by heavy fighting between christians and polytheistic cults. Inhabitants of the
cities were first who accepted monotheistic christianity, but rural areas resisted until the
end of the 5th century and 6th century, when they accepted christianity en masse.46
Rajko Brato speaking about Macedonian martyry, presumed or proven by archaeological
excavations, mentiones those in Stobi, Lihnidos, Demir Kapia, Krnjevo, Karaorman,
Morodvis, adding in favor of the historical data the existence of several anonymous local
martiri. He even locates the time of occurrence of the cult of St.Erasmus and event that
initiated it, and that is the attack on the eastern Goths under the leadership of Teodoric in


I.Mikulcic in the drawing of church in Makedonska Kamenica, Begov Dab, gives this cryptreliquary, "Fruchristlicher kirchenbau in der R. Macedonien ", CORSO XXXIII, Ravena 1986,
p. 221-251, abb. 8; A.Mitkoski in excavations in 1990 at Chebren Zovic found this crypt relic
which Lilcic called cruciform carved relics depot, Lili, "Macedonian stone", 961.
Thanks to professor Snively for the informations and for the photos and discussion on the
facility, as well as fellow m-r Goran Sanev.
Sneana Filipova, "Architectural decorative sculpture in Macedonia" (5/6 and 11/12 c.),
House, 1997, 29, T VX, with the older literature.
Blaga Aleksova, "Loca Sanctorum Macedoni", p. 41-78, 165.
V.Lilcic "Architectural stone sculptures in the Republic of Macedonia, the early Christian
period", Text for CD "The Bible through history and art in Macedonia ", II-part, Calamus,
(written 11.07.2000), p. 10.

AD 479,

when he brought destruction on the surrounding population of Lihnidos who took

refuge in the fortress above the church St.Erasmus.47
Aleksova presumes that crypt in the episcopal basilica in Stobi, similar to the rotonda in
Konjuh, is actually a martyry, and proves the existence of memorial-houses in Demir
Kapia, Krnyevo, Karaorman and Morodvis.48 The legend of 15 Martyrs of Tiberiopolis in
Bithynia is from the time of emperor Julian Apostata (361-363). Their fresco in
underground tomb on the west part of the 5-turret medieval church in Strumica indicates
that they were particularly respected. Early presence of the St.dor cult, who kills the
snake (dragon), is very important fact confirmed by Vinica icon (5/6 century), and
indicates that this protector of the military, who would later be highly respected by the
ruling dynasties in 'Byzantium' and Serbia, has deep roots in Macedonia. Church assumed
the role of mediator and creative pillar of the overall artistic activity. Episcopes, beside the
emperor, became the main builders of public buildings in the empire. Dynamic raising of
churches shows three different periods: the first in the 4 th century is represented only by
one certainly dated church the old Episcopal basilica and baptistery in Stobi; the second
from the first half of the 5th century; and the third at the end of the 5th century until the
third-quarter of the 6th century, showed massive and intensive construction of church
buildings, which are connected with the great intensity of the spread of Christianity in the
territory of the eastern and middle Balkan.49
The problem of the donors and the decoration of churches in the province of Macedonia
lately came to attention of K.Hatersli Smith. She highlights the irregularities in the
distribution of mosaics in Stobi Episcopal basilica which is probably a result of a donation
of a few patrons.50
G.Dimitrieska states that in medieval monastery church St.George in Kneino near Kievo
in much later partition as spoils were embedded two marble slabs with shallow carved
variety of motives, which, according to her, served as a template for making mosaics.51
Often above-door capitols bear inscribed titles with information about the donor or
episcop in whose time the church facility was built. Far from the body of work of more
than 500 early christian capitols in Macedonia were saved only three capitols with carved

Brato "Early christian church in Macedonia," Macedonian Heritage (Makedonsko

Nasledstvo) number 13 , 2000, p. 3-82, 18.
B. Aleksova, "Loca Sanctorum Macedoni", 17, 69.
Lili, "Traces of early Christian basilicas in secondary Povardarie", Lychnidos 7, Ohrid, p.
69-80; 79/80.
K. Hattersley-Smith, "The Early Christian churches of Macedonia and their Patrons", BF,
1995, p. 229-234.
Gordana Spasovska Dimitrieska "Monastery complex St.George - Knezino" MAA 16, p. 307321, fig. 9, 314. She calls for analogies to the text of S.Petkovic "Floor mosaic of the king
Milutin in Hilandar", ZLU, Novi Sad, 1969. p. 75-86. But Dimitrieska doesnt provide any
argument for the specified function of the plates, and its oddly enough that they have left
behind the templates. Very similar shallow-derived motifs are shown on plastic sheets of
sarcophagus in the catalog of the islands of Naxos and Paros, Greece.

abacus.52 Above the door on the Episcopal basilica in Stobi episcope Philip is mentioned,
and the capitol of episcopal basilica tribelon in Bargala mentions episcope Eremia.
Inscriptions from the old episcopal basilica in Stobi constantly reminded believer for his
role and tasks on the Earth and the old verse from the entrance is continuity of other signs
and symbols used in antiquity.
Certain information on donors to certain parts of the mosaic decoration are preserved as
part of the inscriptions, which generally can be with christological content or of the donor.
In our examples, the founder of the mosaics or its anonymous (Polyconchave church at
Plaoshnik, Lihnidos) or at least we find out the name or rank or monastic title of
diaconess53 on some donors mosaics, or rank and name, such as episcopal basilica in Stobi
episcop Eustathius then Peristeria Perpetua and Joanes and anonymous diaconess,54 and
diaconess Sosia Paula from the newfound basilica at Plaoshnik. Same formula for
salvation is carved on the east wall of early christian grave at Vrvi in the settlement
Chashka,Veles.55 Few monograms of the church dignitaries (Heraclea, Krupishte, Chucher
and Kamenica) are saved, by which only the monogram of episcope John of Heraclea is
interpreted, from the capitol of the small basilica. Inscriptions on the city fountain in
Heraclea are associated with the birthday of Justinian I, and bestowed the same episcope
John in AD 562/3).56
There are quite many unread carvings, engraved plastics, published by B. Aleksova, for
example, a base from Krupishte.57 Among the rare examples of early ivory relics is a
reliquary in the shape of a sarcophagus from the diaconate of the episcopal basilica in
Bargala, probably a gift from the West, on display at the Museum and Art Gallery tip. It
contains fragmented Latin inscription that reads VCPRAETUR B-i PROC, and the
monogram on one of the plates containing the letters MR. 58 Aleksova interpreted the
monogram as Mother of God and according to it, it talks about dedication of the church.


S. Filipova, "Examples of Early-Byzantine plastic and capitols in Macedonia and applied

scripts/or letters", Systasis No. 6-7, 2005. From site Bargala: Christ help to your slave,
episcope Eremia, " from the so-called rotunda of the village Konjuh; Latin inscription which
reads: DOMATRIRS, and interpreted as DOMUS MARTIRIS (home of Martyrs, martyry).
Shortened version with the same formula, but no name, we read from the door of episcopal
basilica in Stobi, on the impost capitol of Ohrid (Ohrid Gallery and Museum Lapidarium).
First letter of the inscription is missing, perhaps any L , means a shortened
version of the quote from sankt. scripture in Matthew,1.23, or there may have been a cross,
followed (God is with us).

I.Mikulcic "Ancient cities in Macedonia", Skopje,1999; p. 312.

Anita Vasilkova Midoska "Antique motifs from the mosaics in Stobi" m-r thesis, defended in
2007. At the Institute of History of Art and Archaeology, 167.
George Petachki, "Early Christian tomb II in Chashka", MA 24, 2005; p. 28-43, 33. The
dedicator name is missing.
Tome Janakievski, "Heraclea Lyncestis - fountains", Early christian archeology in Macedonia,
Skopje, 2003; p. 191-205. I.Mikulcic "Ancient cities in Macedonia"; p. 306.
Blaga Aleksova "Bregalnica Episcopacy", fig. 149.
Blaga Aleksova, "Loca Sanctorum Macedoni", Skopje,1995; p. 165, fig. 52. Ibid. 163.

In 2009 archaeological excavations in Bargala in space 3. of the episcopal basilica

discovered a base, which is partialy preserved and inscribed with Koine letters, of the
inscription or name A AON. The letter O is inscribed on a rhomboidal wooden fragmented
relief, found in 2001 in the therms of Bargala.
Decorative plastic
(Tables III and IV)59
Decorative plastic, imported or crafted by the guest masters of Constantinople or centers
under its direct influence (Lehaion, Amphipolis, Philippi) with the highest workmanship
quality are the pulpit of the Episcopal basilica in Stobi of composite capitols and Ionian
impostures of this church, then figurative twozons and "basket" capitols of the ciborium in
the small basilica at Heraclea, and the Episcopal basilica in Bargala, eventually the pulpit
from Bargala and corinthian or corinthian-figurative gilded capitols in Lychnidos from an
unknown facility.60 Although stylized and away from plastic and detailed decoration, with
changes in the morphology - combination of a capitol and stud, coresponding to precious
material and technique of making stands the altar distinguished plastic of the new church,
discovered in 2009 in Bargala. According to the decoration of the external coating of
ceramic kiln found in the same year it is obvious that all the plastic in Bargala is crafted
by a local studio (capitols on the colonnades of the Episcopal basilica, parapet slabs, altar
table, arches of the consignatorium, etc.).
For the very frequent tutorship by the episcopes of this period writes Karaher in Greece. 61
As we have indicated, that is also illustrated by the Macedonian inscriptions in stone and
mosaic of episcopal basilicas in Stobi and Bargala from the 4th and 5th century.
Cultural influences
According to Allison Franz, territorial influence of Constantinople included Thrace and
Macedonia, with the Via Egnatia and the cities of Solun, Amphipolis, Philippi, which form
the southern border. Into the Athenian or Attic areal belonged Thessaly, central Greece and
Peloponnes. Basic element in the standard repertoire of the both schools is the acanthus
foil. In the Attic school it kept his identity, while in the Macedonian it became almost
unrecognizable. The capital city introduces a new technique, which implied free use of
drill for purely ornamental processing.62 Thus was invented the Theodosian capitol with
the embroidery effect often present in Macedonia. Attic style is not noticed in
Constantinople, and the style of Constantinople didnt reach the south of the Via Egnatia,
except in Nea Anchia in Thessaly, Corinth (Lechaion), Nicopol in Epirus, Crete and
Gortinia. The reason for this may be the Ecumenical Council in Chalcedon held in 451
when all these cities fell under the formal authority of Constantinople as part of dioceses

Images available in the Macedonian original (at the bottom of the paper) here:
Vera Bitrakova "Early christian monuments in Ohrid and Ohrid region", Ohrid,1975; fig. 9.
Caraher, "Church, Society and the Sacred in Early Christian Greece", p. 311-312.
Alison Frantz, "Early Christian Ornament in Greece", Byzantine East, Latine West,
Princenton University, New Jersey, 1995; p. 41-45, 42.

Thrace, Asia Minor and Pontica together with the vicariat lllyric, which included
Macedonia. New Rome (Constantinople) almost overnight greatly expanded his power
and prestige.63 The architectural plans of the buildings in Macedonia show great impact
from Asia Minor and Constantinople (according to Blaga Aleksova), and in representative
plastic in lesser measure Solun, and in my opinion prevails the Constantinople influence
and following the see developmental directions. Among the specific effects spikes the east
influence, probably from Syria, which is present in some architectural elements with
plastic (expanded square apse: Konjuh rotunda, small basilica in Heraclea, church/martyry
in Tudence near Tetovo; or plastic: imposture with lower circular expansion, Peristerium
Palace in Stobi, the motives from the pulpit of Konjuh, etc.) and Ohrid mosaics. 64
According to Mikulcic relief scenes of the stone plastic in Konjuh indicates influence
from the art of Ravenna, created in the 6 th century.65 Let's not forget that Ravenna at this
time was part of the Eastern Roman empire and the seat of the Eastern Roman exarchate,
St.Vitale was built according to a plan sent from the Constantinople and the city had
several Syrian episcopes.
Themes and motifs
(Table V)66
Least preserved are the remains of fresco painting, which complemented the glare of
churches equipped with luxurious mosaics and church furniture. Thus, among the
impressive fragments are the saints portraits from the conch of the baptistery in episcopal
basilica in Stobi, where a group of people are represented open, and on one side is the
presentation of the Apostle Matthew with a book in his hands. In these fragments of the
oldest painting of the central colonnade and narthex in the Episcopal basilica, there are no
recognizable compositions, only male heads and a female figure it is preserved
representation of Christ the Good Shepherd on the east wall of the north colonnade,
accompanied by two lambs and 3 'orrans' figures from the 4 th century.67 As a curiosity for
the church art presented on the west wall of the colonnade on the left side of the entrance
appear very unusual animals (rats). The oldest frescoes of the narthex seem to be made in
the period of major turbulences, with dominant role of the color, and the small female
figure resembles Munch's painting and his famous painting 'Scream'. Copies of frescoes
are displayed in the Museum of Macedonia, and originals in the small Lapidary of the
archological locality Stobi. Aleksova emphasized that the stylistic and iconographic
frescoes of the phase 2 baptistery, painted on the stage to which the donor was episcope

Alison Frantz, "Early Christian Ornament in Greece", Byzantine East, Latine West,
Princenton University, New Jersey, 1995; p. 45.
V. Bitrakova, "The Mosaics", p. 79. She underlines the analogy of the conch plan Plaoshnik
with the Syrian church in Resafa.
I.Mikulcic "Ancient cities in Macedonia", Skopje,1999; p. 320.
Images available in the Macedonian original (at the bottom of the paper) here:
Blaga Aleksova, "Loca Sanctorum Macedoni", 1997; p. 132-137, Fig. 7-17, and 77, footnote
109. However, very little attention has been paid on fresco-painting, and an effort to
reconstruct the painting fragments was not made.

Eustathius signed on fresco from the phase 1, follow the Roman tradition, despite the
proximity of Solun. These frescoes, according to my observations are stylistically very
similar, made by the same hand or studio, with painters who painted the basilica in Hisar
fortress, in today Bulgaria, dated 4/5 century.68 The most expensive painting technique,
mosaic, 4th and 5th century, in preserved monuments indicates the presence of
polychromatic, geometric and floral motifs, where most commonly are seen scales or
braids as framework of square and rectangular fields, and by the end of 5 th and 6th century
we admire the master pieces with figural compositions. And like in the lllyric vicariat,
prevailing are the so-called symmetrical scenes where two animals or two pairs of animals
flank central motif (fountain, rivers of paradise, tree of life). These are very representative
illustrations of biblical ideas. From the artistic influences that are reflected in them,
according to Gordana Tomashevi, a lot came from the art centers in the Middle East and
North Africa.69 Among the most attractive ensembles are the small, large episcopal
basilica and the basilica 'D', as well as from episcopal residence in Heraclea, then
baptistery of the episcopal basilica in Stobi, Peristeria and Polycharmon palaces in Stobi,
and the four-conch church and baptistery discovered in 2001 at Plaoshnik, of the basilica
Oktisi and newfound basilica near the old St.Clement. For Atcaka major Balkan mosaic
centers are located in Stobi, Amphipolis and Heraclea, where he worked with mosaic
teams over several decades.70 Bitrakova, a longtime researcher of the mosaics in Ohrid,
concludes that many similar geometric, floral and figural representations in Lyhnidos
mosaics speak of the existence of a prominent mosaic workshop in the city. 71 (see Table
Among the most interesting spectacles is the tetrastyled building (temple?) accompanied
by animals and birds of paradise, which perhaps represents the Holy Sepulcher or Ark of
the Alliance from the village of Oktisi near Ohrid. 73 The faade of the temple looks like
late-antique palace, and arches have hung-lights, accompanied by birds from paradise.74
For its look Mano Zisi states that there are analogies with the architecture of St.Demetrius
in Solun.75 He believes it is the liturgical landscape and the architecture alludes on
paradise. But H.Stern such similar performances interpreted as iconostasis or shrines of
churches. There are analogies of this iconography in works of ivory. 76 The performance of
the cosmos from Heraclea is the only such display in the church in Republic of

"Tesori dell/arte christiana in Bulgaria", edition Valentine Pace, Sofia 2000 (kataloque), 12,
fig. 22.1.
Gordana Tomasevic "Early christian floor mosaics in Dardania, Macedonia and Epirus",
1978, p. 8-78.
Panagiota Asemakopolus Atcaka, "The early Christian mosaic pavements of Eastern
Ilyricum", ACIAC 10, n.1, Colun 1984, 442.
Vera Bitrakova Grozdanova, "Lychnidos a l'Epoque paleochretien et son noyau urbain,
Mosaque Grcoromaine IX", vol.1, Rome, 2005; p. 23-36, 36.
Images available in the Macedonian original (at the bottom of the paper) here:
Vera Bitrakova "The Mosaics in Ohrid region and links with Mediterranean Civilizations
soil" MANU Macedonia, Skopje, 1995, 67-80, 71-73.
Mano Zisi "Early Christian basilica", p. 15.
Footnote 17 in Gordana Tomasevic "Early-byzantine floor mosaics", Belgrade 1987, p. 57.
Same, p.58.

Macedonia, which contains four figural images that line up horizontally, but is present in
the secular palaces (beginning of the 6 th century - Polyharmos palace, middle of 6 th
century - palace Peristeria in Stobi), and as a ceilling mosaic program is performed in the
first half of the 6th century in basilica St.Vitale in Ravenna. Scenes of fighting and hunting
in the church are preserved only in Heraclea (narthex of the great basilica and the dining
room from the episcopal court). There is the only representation of the Paradise surround
with transens. We see the paradise rivers (polyconch church, Plaoshnik within the
representation of the cosmos, Heraclea). Often illustrated is the David's Psalm no.41 in
symmetrical scenes, where in Macedonia is very common, otherwise rare for the lllyric
deer: "As the hind thirst of water, so my soul, God, cries for you." For E.Dimitrova, this
psalm is the most recognizable emblem of creative achievements in the artistic creation of
the early christian era.77 Except that symbolizes baptism, the scene of this psalm has
evcharistic connotation, which refers to the desire for God's blessing and the mystery of
communion. It is usually illustrated by grapevine that pours out of the bowl-fountain as
evharistic symbol of Christ's sacrificial blood that turns into wine for communion. Same
for the dove-symbol of the blessed souls in heaven, and the peacock - a symbol of
resurrection, that complete this topic. Mosaic from the northern chapel of the episcopal
basilica in Heraclea from the first half of the 6 th century has its parallel in the mosaic of
the narthex of the Basilica 'D' in Bilis, Albania. 78 Symbiosis of meanings of certain topics
is not distinctive only for the mosaic, but through the early christian manuscript matrices
will become part of the carolingian illuminations. 79 The representation of the lion as biting
three snakes from the entrance in the newfound monumental baptistery at Plaoshnik can
be interpreted as an illustration of the Old Testament scene of the miracle of turning the
Aaron's rod into three snakes. But it can also be symbolic soteriological presentation of
Jesus replaced by a lion, which destroys evil, such as the deer's biting snakes head in the
baptistery from the 6th century in Tunisia, at Henshir Mehsud.80 The composition may be
an allusion to the saving role of the baptistery water that washes away sin caused by the
snake and does not allow the poison to enter the body, or the same is hereby repealed.
Similar interpretation suggests Puech for the Tunisian baptistery, that such a scene staged
in baptistery presents the idea of baptismal initiation, which neutralize the action of the
mortal dangers and frees the believers from temptation and sin. Bitrakova too considered
that the meaning of the figurative presentation is soteriological, the message of victory
over demons, and connects with the inscription from the catechumenicate or diaconate of
the nearby Basilica, where a small snake and a lion are presented at the foot of the
fountain, stepped from two major flanked deer, rustically manufactured, unlike the
quadratic baptistery, which reads:





Elizabeta Dimitrova, "Forty-first psalm of David - iconographic paradigm of Christian

antiquity," Patrimonium 1-2, 65-76, 76.
S. Mucaj-M. P. Raynaud, "Les mosa ques des glises protobyzantines de Byllis (Albanie), La
mosaique Grecoromaine IX", vol.1, Rome, 2005; p. 389, fig.4a.
Among the most representative examples is certainly 'Soasonskiot evangjelijar' from the late
8th century. See in G. Kubah "Karolingian Ottone Art", Novi Sad 1973, Fig. 5th
Charles Puech, "Le Cerf at le Serpent, Note sur le symbolism de la
mosaique au baptisterire de lHenchir Mesaouda", CA IV, Paris 1949, p. 32.

She believes that this is based on the Psalm 91, 13 from the Old Testament. Various
iconographic themes illustrated on the mosaics of early christian buildings at Plaoshnik
are taken from the holy scripts and illustrate the same idea about the strong acceptance
and the success of the new faith.81 Evharistical/eschatological/soteriological meaning of
several mosaics from Heraclea were of interest of E.Dimitrova. 82 It is known that after the
4th century floor mosaics avoided presenting realistic figures and moved to non-ikonical
presentations. According to some, the reason for this is because such performances caused
direct associations with pagan cults and gods. Thus, the absence of figures becomes
chronological indication of the late 4th - early 5th century, and changes as the century
passes,83 which is illustrated by the mosaic from baptistery at Plaoshnik. The most
intriguing is the image from the baptistery floor where two Peacocks flank the fountain.
Very frequent presence of the swastika on the floor mosaic, and 8, 9 and 12-foil rosettes
and Heracles node may indicate an apotropaic meanings. 84 Additional fields with stag and
doe, a lion and a snake and a symbolic structures around baptistery, which obviously are
not simultaneous with the rest of the floor, it is possible to date from developed 5 th
century. Background evharistical scene with peacocks that flank the fountain (fountain
which arises styled water) from the floor is filled with two pomegranate trees. 85 This
mosaic seems to be the youngest. The layout of this baptistery pool as is illustrated in the
2 of 4 pools from the mosaic aside the tetraconch church, which is from the 6 th century,
where the water flows out of each of the 4 poles flanked by lambs, deer and gazelles spans
heavenly rivers that spring from the mouths of symbolic male heads. 86 According to
Midoska the impacts from the mosaics of Stobi combine the impacts of creations which

"Tu marcheras sur le lion et sur l'aspic | Tu foul eras le lionceau et le dragon". Bitrakova Vera
"Lychnidos in the early Christian period," p. 262-3.
E. Dimitrova, "Forty-first David psalmikonografska paradigm of Christian antiquity," and
here literature cited by the same author.
Caraher, "Church, Society and the Sacred", p.153-154.
H. Maguire, "Magic and geometry in Early Christian floor mosaics and textiles", JOB 44
(1994), p. 265-274, 157. Central swastika adorns fountain in the baptistery polyconchal
church, and this is present in dining mosaic of the Episcopal palace in Heraclea, and the
colonnade of the Episcopal basilica in Stobi.
Pomegranate motif is common in the decoration of ionic impost capitals of Corinth
(Lehaion), 450-460 g., And similar fruits look and plastics from the 6th century by St. Simeon
Jebel Seman, Syria. Krauthajmer, uri, "Early Christian and early byzantine architecture",
p. 133, fig.92,155, fig.117. Mosaic of pomegranate tree with fruit represents triclinei episcopal
court in Heraclea, from the 6th century. I.Mikulcic "Ancient cities in Macedonia", p. 329, etc.

Bitrakova Vera "Lychnidos in the early Christian period," p. 263. Bitrakova states that the
baptistery is constructed after, in regard to the basilica, and undergone a makeover that was
worked hastily, but archaeological excavations didnt brought any architectural plastics which
wouldve been dated more accurately.

are spread in the provinces of the great early christian art centers in Amphipolis, Solun,
Antioch, Pergamon, and from more distant Carthage, Volubilis El Jem. 87 This statement is
too broad and does not help, suggesting even six cultural centers, and the 5 th and 6th
century mosaics from Stobi have quite unified artistic expression, where the analogies
with Amphipolis are strongly represented with the birds and the flora.
As a separate cultural center which made ceramic reliefs and where the metallurgy, mining
and pottery developed, flourishes Vinica. Recent excavations in Bargala in 2009
discovered the furnace for glass and metal, thus confirming that the development of
certain crafts and works of applied art were local product. The oldest ceramic icons were
unearthed in 1985 (Balabanov dating them in 6/7 century,88 Dimitrova at the end of the 5th,
beginning of 6th century89), and several fragmented that were discovered some years ago,
originally dating from the late 2nd early 3rd century are unique artistic creations of which
there are still no analogies. Tablets resembling Achilles and centaur (2 plates) or the
symbolic icon of St.Andrea (2 plates, a whole plate with impressed X or 'Andreas Cross'
filled with three fish, two shells and two sea crabs, peacock, dog, moon, lamb in the
middle of the cross and in the empty space between its legs one more fish and shell, and
one fragment made inversely as shallow raised relief where it is stored only one fish, at
the annual exhibition in the Museum of Macedonia, 2009, dated like the fragment with
centaur and Achilles in 5/6 century) introduced us with a different iconography in relation
to the tablets found in the 80s. This is a cryptic language that is rich in symbolism and
requires very good theological education. Art rules talk about a completely different
source and inspiration, and perhaps the earliest depictions of holy warriors on horseback.
Balabanov assumption is that the plate with 'St.Andreas Cross', which in addition to the
basic theme of the preaching activity has subtopics, Paradise and Hell, may have been
applied as an ornament of early christian grave in the period before the recognition of
christianity, like the role of the fresco in the catacombs. 90 The existence of very few
analogies for them underlines their preciosity and points to local circumstances and
inspirations. For Mikulcic this is peripheral folk art, local rustic interpretation of early
christian models, which arose in the provinces of Carthage and Egypt, and from there was
transferred to the West, and in Vinica appeared in a strange way around the middle of the
6th century.91 Thermal spas from the vicinity of the episcopal basilica in Bargala as a
secondary finding stems being the most early christian wooden relief discovered in
Republic of Macedonia. This fragment reflects the performance of Avram victim
(10,8113.)92 Isaac's head is missing, and he sits on a stone, with his back to his

Anita Vasilkova Midoska "Antique motifs mosaics in Stobi" m-r thesis, defended in 2007, p.
Kosta Balabanov "Vinica, old ancient city and center of early christian art", Vinica 2006, p.
29, 18.
Elizabeta Dimitrova, "Ceramic reliefs from Vinica Kale, Gyurgya 1993, p. 227.
Kosta Balabanov "Vinica, old ancient city and center of early christian art", Vinica 2006, p.

I.Mikulcic 'Ancient cities in Macedonia', p. 361,etc.. 235,308.

Sneana Filipova, "The Early Christian fragmented wooden Relief from the site Bargala, near
tip" Proceedings of the 21st International Congress on Byzantine Studies, London, 2006,

father, to the left of them are seen part of the tree on which was tied the sheep (missing)
but there is a fragment of a sheep that can belong here. Abraham is barefoot, represented
in the moment of the swing with the knife. The upper part of the relief had a sort of a
frieze with figures of animals - lion, sheep, inserted between a swastika ornament. One of
the fragments of the frieze, in Latin, reads ... VENTU (T?) ... Another fragment with frieze
which shows a representation of a lion with the head turned backwards (coating chair or
trunk?), in motion, there are Koine letters , with letter O is repeated several times, shaped
like a rhomb. ( or I) O.. N O. Such A shows also the latest fragment of Vinica icons
with horseman.93 Of the present scripts one part is Latin, another part is on Koine and it is
possible that theyre not part of the same whole.94
End of Justinian's state and strong cultural activity
According to written sources, about AD 600 church life in North Macedonia extinguished,
while the south was very threatened by the attacks of the Bulgars and Avars. The king
ordered the Illyrian episcopes in 591 to help other episcopes who had to withdraw infront
of the attacks. After 602 falls the Justiniana Prima, which Justinian I formed in 535, as
autocephalous and as a counterweight to the vicarage of Solun which was adherent to
Akaki schism (484-518), and by reducing the influence of the Pope and as a substitute to
the Sirmium Archdiocese. Last who addressed the Numismatic evidence for the end of the
6th and 7th century on Macedonian territory was Maya Haji Maneva, specifying that the
coins completely disappeared from circulation at the end of the 7 th century.95 Much of the
medieval church facilities in the Republic of Macedonia are built on older early christian
or ancient temples, which implies continuity in selecting the cult place. Spoils embedded



Vol.III, p. 315-316.
Composition closest stylistic analogy with Isaac comes from a Istanbul marble plate that has
the same iconography found in St.John Studit, and it is dated in the 5 th century. See in Nezih
Firatli, 'La sculpture Byzantine figuree Au Musee archeologique D'Istambul', Paris 1990,
p.154, fig. 305; and Andre Grabar, 'Sculptures Byzantiens I', Paris 1963, p. 52., Pl. XV, 3.
It remains unclear how could such a relief, perhaps part of a reliquary, to be used as material
for terms heating. Was it becaiuse they were no longer in use, so after the sacking of the city
barbarian tribes used it for fire in the pre-burner of the terms, or it did when looting while the
population retreated? Or it was a vandal act which demonstrates intolerance toward a member
of a religious minority or heretics, whose reliquary contained relics of their patron saint?
Similar to the proceedings from the middle of the 6 th century in Ravenna, when the mosaics of
Arian saints from St.Martin (Apolinare Nuovo) will be replaced with those of the
Constantinople rite.
Maya Hadi Maneva, "Numismatic evidence for the end of the VI and VII century," MAA, p.
381-395 18, 388-390. The fightings around the Danube limes in the last decade of the 6 th
century and migrations, were the cause for absence of leaves of coins as registered in
Macedonia, once led him c. Popovic opinion that after 585 d. here do not functioning
commodity exchange money. But this Haji Maneva binds to the monetary factor decreased
production of the Thessaloniki mint, the main supplier, which is the case with leave other parts
of the territory lllyric. But individual findings show that even the 7th century at the end of the
7th century are going finally leave money on our territory. Thus, many of the conclusions of
earlier researchers bound by findings of coins as post quem non fall into water and need to be
more elastic prolonged.

in later churches or monastery conacs indicate the existence of such facilities, and speak
for the respect of the sanctity of the object to which it belonged, and perhaps a tendency to
transfer part of it to the new facility. Eastern Roman artist during the period of 9-11
century, when the shallow relief returns around the Mediterranean belt, took as the basis
the art from the time of Justinian I. Architectural plans of the churches with free and
cruciform basilica with a dome, its emergence and popularity have during the reign of
Justinian will remain recognizable characteristic of 'Byzantine' art and Orthodox art in

The Road to Candavia (Roman "Via Egnatia") was very important infrastructural communication.
Connecting the eastern and western part of a once powerful state, the Macedonian kings had
already built a road from the Adriatic to the Aegean Sea. In the Macedonian age sections of the
road (which will later become the Via Egnatia), as the ones crossing the gorge of Stena Kirli
Derven, were delimited by 'horoi' (boundary markers) and by road stones bearing distances in
stadia. This first part was mentioned by Strabo and it was called the "Road to Candavia". From
the Adriatic coast and Aulon passes through the city of Lychnidos [mod. Ohrid] and Pylon, a
place on the road which later marked the boundary between the Roman provinces of Epirus Nova
and Macedonia. From Pylon the road runs to Barnus through Heraclea [mod. Bitola] and the
country of the Lyncest and that of the ordeia (Eordaia) through Edessa and Pella, and as far as
Thessalonica. East of Thessalonica, the road continued to Amphipolis, Philippi, Neapolis, and
Kypsela on the Hebros. Another route is heading north-west, wedges in the Balkans and the
Rhodope mountains climbing up the Maritsa basin and then Morava's, until the Belgrad junction,
where it continues until Central Europe following the right bank of Danube. A main junction
between the two axes, whose direction is North-West South-West, which goes from the Morava
valley, crosses the river Vardar valley and leads to the Aegean at Thessalonica, has always
enabled people to travel over the whole network, in various historical situations, both by
intersections and by fragmentary routes.

It was rebuilt by a Roman senator named Gnus Egnatius, who served as prtor with the powers
of proconsul in the newly conquered province of Macedonia in the late 140 B.C.E.. A
milestone found near the place where the Via Egnatia crossed the Gallikos River, just west of
Thessalonica, is evidence of his activities.
Cicero' speech On the consular provinces 4 proves that before 56 B.C.E. the road had been
extended to the Hellespont, where it would continue to Perinth and Constantinople. After
Constantinople had become the capital of the eastern half of the Roman Empire, a special gate for
the Via Egnatia was made, called the Golden Gate.
The road from Constantinople to Thessalonica was still important during the Eastern Roman
empire: merchants, soldiers, and monks were among the travellers, and it is interesting to notice
that in the age of the Crusades, Bogomilism spread from the East to the West along the Via
Egnatia. The first missionaries were Macedonic speaking missionaries; later, the knights of the
Fourth Crusade returned to the Languedoc with dualist beliefs