Vestigial Religion: The Legacy of Byzantine Christianity in Ottoman and Venetian Greece

Author(s): Rebecca Seifried

Year: 2017


This paper offers a glimpse into the roles played by religion during the decline of one empire and the emergence of another, from the perspective of a historical case study: the Mani Peninsula. Mani is a peripheral region in the Peloponnese, Greece, that converted to Orthodox Christianity under the Byzantine Empire, and its occupants maintained this religious identification throughout the subsequent periods of Ottoman and Venetian rule. This unbroken religious continuity, which can be traced in both the archaeological and historical records, can help us to understand the perseverance of a state religion even after its collapse, particularly in marginal and rural landscapes. The paper begins with a review of previous research on the Byzantine churches in Mani and offers new interpretations as to how religion functioned in the everyday lives of the rural population. Data are presented from recent fieldwork in the region, detailing what happened to the churches following Byzantine collapse, and in particular how they functioned in relation to the people living in nearby communities. Finally, the paper explores the contentious relationship between local residents and the emerging Ottoman Empire and suggests that Orthodoxy was a key element in undermining the new state’s power in the region.

Cite this Record

Vestigial Religion: The Legacy of Byzantine Christianity in Ottoman and Venetian Greece. Rebecca Seifried. Presented at The 81st Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, Vancouver, British Columbia. 2017 ( tDAR id: 429649)


Geographic Keywords

Spatial Coverage

min long: -11.074; min lat: 37.44 ; max long: 50.098; max lat: 70.845 ;

Record Identifiers

Abstract Id(s): 15848