A Gothic warrior, who was buried with his weaponry, was found recently in an early Christian basilica in Thessaloniki, Central Macedonia, Greece.
The extraordinary discovery was made by a group of archaeologists who are working on the three-aisled Christian basilica dating back to the 5th century AD near the Syntrivani station of Thessaloniki’s new metro system, which is under construction.
What is particularly interesting about this discovery is the fact that this is the first discovery of such a burial not only in Thessaloniki but also in the wider region of Roman Macedonia.
The skeleton of the male figure, dating back to the 5th century, was found in the southern part of the Christian church in downtown Thessaloniki along which remains of weaponry were also found.
One of the most well-preserved of his weapons was an iron sword that was found bent, or ”folded” as described by archaeologist Melina Paisidou. The astonishing part of this discovery was the fact that despite the burial taking place in a Christian basilica, the folded sword is a sign of ancient pagan rituals.
According to archaeologists, this provides evidence that this warrior, despite the fact that most probably embraced Christianity and the Roman customs of the time, did not forget his Gothic roots, as his burial included a custom embedded in pagan tradition.
The Basilica in Thessaloniki where Gothic warrior was found
According to the official website of the municipality of Thessaloniki, the three-aisled paleochristian basilica was discovered in the western part of the Sintrivani underground station of the city. It was built on the site of an older place of worship from the 4th century AD.
This building also housed a mosaic floor, part of which has been uncovered, showing a vine stalk with birds on its branches, including the mythical “Phoenix.” The mosaic was still visible during the initial phase of use of the basilica.
Thessaloniki grew to be an important trade hub located on the Via Egnatia, the Roman road connecting Byzantium (later Constantinople) with Dyrrhachium (now Durrës in Albania), which facilitated trade between Europe and Asia.
The city became the capital of one of the four Roman districts of Macedonia while maintaining its privileges but was ruled by a praetor and had a Roman garrison.
For a short time in the 1st century BC, Thessaloniki (known in Roman times as Thessalonica) was also the capital of all Greek provinces under Roman rule. When the Roman Prefecture of Illyricum was divided between the East and West Roman Empires in 379, Thessaloniki became the capital of the new Prefecture of Illyricum.