Since the 1980s archaeology at the ancient Roman fort of Halmyris in eastern Romania has been prolific. In 2001, excavations produced an ancient Christian basilica with the possible remains of two 4th century Christian martyrs, Astion and Epictetus. Subsequent investigations confirmed the validity of Astion and Epictetus’ lives. In a country where archaeology has supported nationalist rhetoric for the Romanian government and the Romanian Orthodox Church, Astion and Epictetus are controversial figures for how the state and Church use archaeology to their advantage. Astion and Epictetus were quickly canonized by the Church and prompted immediate scholarly inquiries about their known biography called a passio.

Astion and Epictetus’ modern impact has been felt by the Church and the international archaeological community. Yet few studies have investigated their impact on Halmyris in antiquity. My study examines how the martyrdom of Astion and Epictetus changed Halmyris to a Christian bishopric while precluding the Roman military from ever becoming the principal institution again. Both the passio and the basilica contributed to Christianity’s dominance at Halmyris.

This study also investigates how the excavation of Astion and Epictetus’ remains turned Halmyris into an international archaeological site. Halmyris’ natural geographic positioning in the Danube Delta and international archaeological collaborations have broadcasted Halmyris’ significance to the world.


Florence, Monica

Second Advisor

Sene, Ibra


Classical Studies; History


Ancient History, Greek and Roman through Late Antiquity | Christianity | Classical Archaeology and Art History | Classical Literature and Philology | European History | Historic Preservation and Conservation | History of Christianity | History of Religion | Military History | Oral History | Political History | Social History


Christianity, Halmyris, Archaeology, Romania, Late Antiquity, Classics, Nationalism, International

Publication Date


Degree Granted

Bachelor of Arts

Document Type

Senior Independent Study Thesis



© Copyright 2016 Colin P. Omilanowski