The Early Christian Collection houses articles dating from the late classical period, when the Christianity was becoming an established state religion.

The largest part of monuments originate from Salona, the Christian centre of the Roman province of Dalmatia, from Narona and Vis. The late classical archaeological sites abound in interesting material ranging from in situ architecture, architectural fragments, reliefs, statues, and inscriptions (on view in the Collection of Stone Monuments) to articles of everyday use.

The late classical period begins with the rule of Diocletian (A.D. 284-305) and Constantine (A.D. 307-337). With Diocletian's edict of 303 A.D. began the period of large-scale persecution of the Christians. Before the full establishment of Christianity, in Salona, a cosmopolitan metropolis, different religions were practice (cults of Mithras, Cybele....). An inscription dating back to this period mentions three religious communities in Salona of the time: Judaeans, Christians, and Romans. The first news of the spread of Christianity on the Dalmatian territory was brought by Paul the Apostle in the Epistle to the Romans (XV, 19) and the Epistle to Timothy (IV, 10). In the mid-3rd century A.D., Bishop Venancius the Martyr is mentioned.

Towards the end of this century, the Christian community in Salona was growing in strength, under the leadership of Bishop Domnius (Dujam) who was killed in Diocletian's persecutions of 304. In 313 A.D., Constantine and his co-ruler Lycinius issued the Milan Edict by which all religions in the state were granted equal rights. During the rule of Theodosius I, Christianity became an official state religion. In the course of the 4th and 5th cc., the Christian worship became fully established. In Salona, an Episcopal centre and a number of town and cemetery basilicas were erected on the sites of martyr worship.

Head of Collection: Sanja Ivcevic, Curator

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