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Archaeologists Unearth Temple Challenging History of Christianity in the Roman Empire 

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Archaeologists Unearth Temple Challenging History of Christianity in the Roman Empire 

Archaeologists Unearth Temple Challenging History of Christianity in the Roman Empire 

Source: X

Archaeologists in Spello,  Italy, have unearthed a phenomenal discovery under the grounds of the ancient town. For the first time, researchers have found the remains of an ancient pagan temple that used to be the treasure of the Roman Empire. 

They believe that the legendary Roman Emperor Constantine was the one who built the temple from 306 to 337 C.E. But why does this discovery matter?

It is a Game Changer of History 

Source: X

The significance of this discovery lies in the clarity it has brought to long-held historical accounts. In this case, the aspect of history under the spotlight is the introduction of Christianity into the Roman Empire.

As a result of this discovery, history scholars may have to adjust some of the popular beliefs relating to the practice of Christianity among the Romans. Let’s start from the beginning.

The Legend of Emperor Constantine 

Source: X

The history of Christianity is never exhaustive without the mention of Emperor Constantine. The great Roman Emperor who ruled the Roman Empire in the early stages of the 4th century played a crucial role in the growth of Christianity in the empire. 

He presided over a crucial period of religious transition in the empire and was the first Emperor to convert to Christianity.

Paganism Vs. Christianity 

Source: X

It is no news that the Roman Empire had its roots in paganism. In fact, the Romans were polytheistic and dipped in the knowledge and worship of Greek Gods. But a time came when the Romans charted their religious course. 

According to the Roman origin story, which mixed with its paganistic practices, Mars, the God of War, continued his work through his two sons, Remus and Romulus.

Did Constantine Proclaim the End of Paganism? 

Source: X

A widely held account of the introduction of Christianity into Rome said that it resulted from a Constantine proclamation. Historians believe that Constantine, after his conversion, declared Christianity the official religion of the empire. 

This discovery has cast a shadow on this belief. The Temple and its attendant relics showed that both religions existed side-by-side with each one influencing the other.

The Spark that Created the Fire

Source: X

The team of archeologists didn’t stumble upon the temple. Something led them to dig at the location at Spello. It was an inscription on the town hall that created the spark of the idea. 

The inscription which surfaced as far back as the 1700s, stated in native language that the building of the temple was to promote an undertaking. The inscription also announced permission for the town’s residents to hold religious festivals in the temple.

On One Condition 

Source: X

The inscription gave one condition for which it would host religious festivals. The writing, which was a direction from Constantine, suggested that residents build a temple strictly for his ancestral worship. 

This means that the temple will only allow worship to the Flavian family, which are Constantine’s direct ancestors. This further points to the fact that paganism and Christianity thrived side-by-side.

Why Flavian and Not Constantine?

Source: X

One would wonder why Constantine would want a temple for his ancestral worship instead of for himself. The answer can be found in the depth of Roman tradition. 

In what historians called the Roman Imperial Cult, every emperor was to encourage the worship of their immediate ancestors. This results from the centuries-old belief that the emperors were partly gods. So, Constantine’s wish was in line with a royal tradition.

The Benefit of the Ancestral Worship 

Source: X

Even though it looks like it, ancestral worship means much more than a royal tradition of ancestral honor. The practice provides huge benefits for the unity and sustenance of the empire. 

The Roman Empire was a pretty vast one that covered three continents. Such an expansive kingdom is in great need of unity, and the ancestral worship provided such. The ancestral worship was a culture shared by all the various peoples of the empire who were divided by language and custom.

For How Long Did the Spello Temple Last? 

Source: X

The period of transition between paganism and Christianity was a topic of contention amongst historians for many centuries. But the Spello Temple discovery solved the puzzle. The Temple remained a place of worship for two generations of Emperors after its construction. 

This period forms part of the era during which both religious practices accommodated the other. That was until Emperor Theodosius officially banned paganism in 392 C.E.