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Niculitel - Palaeo-Christian crypt of Zotikos, Attalos, Kamasis and Philippos and 4th century basilica

Niculitel - Palaeo-Christian crypt of Zotikos, Attalos, Kamasis and Philippos and 4th century basilica
Byzantine Chant
Title: "Αποβλεψάμενος ο τύραννος" (Kalophonic Sticheron "When the tyrant saw")
Service: The Service of the Furnace; The Play of the Three Holy Children
Performers: Cappella Romana & Alexander Lingas
Album: "Mt. Sinai: Frontier of Byzantium (Voices of Byzantium: Medieval Byzantine Chant from Mt. Sinai)"



Palaeo-Christian crypt [3rd century AD]
and Christian basilica built over it in 370 AD
Niculitel village, Tulcea county, Romania
-archaeological site discovered in 1971

Basilica elevated at the end of the 4th century, under Emperors Valens and Valentinianus and rebuilt in the reign of Theodosius II in the early 5th century – over a Palaeo-Christian crypt. The crypt – covered by a hemispheric dome with pendants, housed two superimposed martyr tombs: în the lower level there were the remains of two martyrs with unknown names. At the top level, in a collective coffin, there were the remains of four martyrs whose names: Zotikos, Attalos, Kamasis and Philippos as martyrs – Martyres hristou – are recorded on the walls of the crypt.



The Holy Martyrs Zotikos, Attalos, Kamasis, Philippos from Niculiţel
Martyrs Zotic, Atal, Camasis, and Filip of Niculiţel
Feast day on June 4

The Land of Scythia Minor, the actual Romanian region of Dobrogea, situated between the Danube and the Black Sea was one of the first Christianized regions in the world.
The popular traditions say that St. Andrew the Apostle, in his way from Greece to Scytia (the today Ukraine) went through this region, where he would have stayed a few years, preaching the Gospel to the Dacians, Scythians and the Greek colonists from the cities here.
The attestation of the early Christianity here is also recognized through the archeological discoveries. A few dozens of churches from the 2nd-4th century show the intensity of the Christian activity here. Beyond the rich traditions about the Andrew’s preaching here, there is not much known. It is possible, that the Christianity would be preached here peacefully, also because the Dacians, the ancestors of the Romanians, the dwellers here were already monotheists.
At the end of the 3rd century and the beginning of the 4th there are registered some strong actions of persecutions in the area, in the periods of the Emperors Diocletianus (284/305), Licinius (319-324) and later in the times of Julian the Apostate (361-363), respectively of the King Athanaric of Gothia (about 370-372). More than a dozen of soldiers, priests or simple citizens were killed because they confessed their faith in Jesus Christ.
About those saints martyrs there was not very much to know, only a few notes in some Synaxaries. At 4th of June, the Syriac Martyrologium indicates only the Feast of St. Philip, but the “hieronimian” Martirologium, adds here the names Zoticus, Atalus, Eutichius, Camasis, Quirinus and other 28, unnamed.
These saints were almost forgotten, but they came one more time in the attention after an event which passed about 40 years ago.

In the summer of 1971, after some rich rainfalls, some locals from the small village of Niculitel, known much more because of its vineyards, discovered in a landslide some ruins. After more digging, it was obvious that there are not only some ruins, but an entire crypt built like a small chapel. Inside of it were the bones of 4 men, put into a wooden coffin, and above it were on the walls 2 inscriptions in Greek, painted in red colour: “Martyrs of Christ”, respectively “Martyrs Zotikos, Attalos, Kamasis, Philippos”. Both inscriptions were accompanied by the sign of Chrismon (XP), an old Christian symbol.
Even if the discovery occurred in the middle of the communist era, it made sensation between the archaeologists, historians and theologians. The crypt confirms the notation about some martyrs with those names, included in the synaxaries mentioned above and into an extended Greek synaxarion, together with other 32 more Christians who died in Scythia Minor, in the Old Noviodunum, a port at the Danube, not far away from the Danube Delta (the actual Isaccea). The historians believe that they died during the persecution of Licinius (319-324), or Julian the Apostate (361-363).
About the other 32 there is no more informations. Only the 4 Saints Zotikos, Attalos, Kamasis, Philippos were buried here. Because of the barbarian migration that occurred beginning with the 4th century, probably the church, which was initially built over the crypt, was destroyed, and the crypt itself, situated under the altar, was covered with rests which protected it for more than 1500 years.
The archaeological researches discovered 2 more rooms, under this crypt, where there were found the bones of 2 more martyrs. The way those bones were found, made the specialists to believe that also these were martyrs. In the earth found, there were 2 offering vessels and a piece of sandstone with the inscription: “here and there the blood of the martyrs”. The 2 martyrs may be some earlier, maybe from the persecution under Decius (249-251).,_Atal,_Camasis_și_Filip</

(plus d'infos...)

Photo prise @ Sarica le 21 octobre 2018 (© fusion-of-horizons / Flickr)

Voir aussi :
 niculitel, palaeo-christian, crypt, zotikos, attalos, kamasis, philippos, basilica, scythia minor, dobrogea, danube, orthodox, church, architecture, biserica, paleocrestina, bazilica, greek, niculițel, noviodunum

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