The Early Christian Basilicas of Kastri at Chersonesos
In the modern settlement of Limenas at Chersonesos, which has been built atop the ancient city of Cherronesos, three basilicas have been discovered, indicative of the great prosperity of the settlement also during the early Byzantine period when it was the seat of the homonymous ancient diocese. The most important of these, the basilica B, on top of the hill of Kastri, in the northeastern part of the city, was already from the Hellenistic years, and continued into the early Christian years, the worship centre of the ancient city. The Christian church in the plan of the three-aisled, timber-roofed basilica with an apse on the east side and a narthex on the west, has been built atop a building of the Hellenistic period, perhaps the ancient temple of Artemis Vritomartis [Sweet Virgin], known from the sources, and another unknown rectangular building of the 4th century AD which has a mosaic floor. The basilica, dating to the end of the 5th century, preserves partially surviving floor mosaics with vegetal and geometric motifs in the nave, the narthex and the south funerary chapel. In the southeast corner is a grave with marble inlay and the inscription “PEGASIOS FOR HIS OWN HEALTH.” The basilica was subject to a large interpolation at some unknown point before 616, during which the tribelon opening of the nave was rebuilt, while part of the mosaic floor was replaced with limestone slabs. Its original collapse may have been caused by an earthquake during the reign of the emperor Heraclius (610 – 641). From then onwards the space began to be used for rough habitation.