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Abstract

This paper introduces the site of Alba Iulia (older Romanian name Bălgrad, Hungarian name Gyulafehérvár), as ones of the most important key-center within the Carpathian Basin around the year 1000, powered probably by the Bulgarian Empire before the Hungarian conquest in early 11th century. While the written sources are scarce, the archaeological evidence has brought to light a significant number of dwelling facilities, cemeteries and, most importantly, three churches operating there at the turn of the millennium. Starting in the mid-10th century, two churches were successively built on the same spot: a Byzantine-style church, and later on, in front of it, a Romanesque basilica, the latter being the first cathedral of the Latin Bishopric of Transylvania, in operation at the end of the 11th century, for about a century. This paper aims to analyze these churches in their particular context and to look up for their historical significance in the process of shaping medieval Transylvania, between Eastern Christianity and Latin Europe.

In: Christianization in Early Medieval Transylvania
Little is known about the Christianization of east-central and eastern Europe, due to the fragmentary nature of the historical record. Yet occasionally, unexpected archaeological discoveries can offer fresh angles and new insights. This volume presents such an example: the discovery of a Byzantine-like church in Alba Iulia, Transylvania, dating from the 10th century - a unique find in terms of both age and function. Next to its ruins, another church was built at the end of the 11th century, following a Roman Catholic architectural model, soon to become the seat of the Latin bishopric of Transylvania.

Who built the older, Byzantine-style church, and what was the political, religious and cultural context of the church? How does this new discovery affect our perception of the ecclesiastical history of Transylvania? A new reading of the archaeological and historical record prompted by these questions is presented here, thereby opening up new challenges for further research.

Contributors are: Daniela Marcu Istrate, Florin Curta, Horia I. Ciugudean, Aurel Dragotă, Monica-Elena Popescu, Călin Cosma, Tudor Sălăgean, Jan Nicolae, Dan Ioan Mureșan, Alexandru Madgearu, Gábor Thoroczkay, Éva Tóth-Révész, Boris Stojkovski, Șerban Turcuș, Adinel C. Dincă, Mihai Kovács, Nicolae Călin Chifăr, Marius Mihail Păsculescu, and Ana Dumitran.