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From Ephesian Artemis to Wonderworking Virgin Mary: The Case of Treskavec

Svetlana Makuljević

Universitet Metropolitan Beograd

A Hellenistic inscription from Treskavec, published in the 1930s, tells us about a woman who, alarmed by Ephesian Artemis, freed slave Helena and her son Perister with the heirs (female) at the locality of Kolobaise. A preserved inscription built into the dome of the Treskavec church testifies to the existence of a temple to Ephesian Artemis, which was originally located in Kolobaise, which is assumed to represent an ancient city on the site of the medieval monastery of Treskavec. The inscription that mentions the Ephesian Artemis testifies to the cult, to the belief in the wonderworking power and the intermediary role of this goddess, the veneration of whom was widespread in the Western Balkans. Fitting of spolia with an inscription into the dome of the church testifies to a kind of renovatio memoriae after one of the restorations of the church during the medieval period. In the Middle Byzantine period, a monastery was built at the site of the temple of Artemis with a church dedicated to the Virgin Mary.

Together with archaeological findings and graves, the artifacts with inscriptions that mention the cult and temples not only of Ephesian Artemis, but also Apollo, also testify to the fact that in antiquity a kind of holy mountain was on the site of today's medieval monastery. In the medieval period, the Treskavec monastery is the place around which a holy mountain is formed, modeled after those in Sinai and Mount Athos, as evidenced by written sources and anchorite dwellings.

Finally, this paper draws attention to an important transformation that is present on the holy mountain of Treskavec. From the Hellenistic cult of the Ephesian Artemis, the locality of Treskavec turns into a space where the wonderworking cult of the Virgin Mary of Treskavec is venerated. The fourteen-century charters signed by King Dušan testify that the church of the Virgin Mary, which is cared for by the Bulgarian, Byzantine, and Serbian rulers, is the site of the wonderworking cult of the Virgin Mary. The visual culture in the monastery and around it testifies to the development of the cult of the Virgin Mary in fresco- and icon-painting from the 14th to the 19th century.

Session/Panel Title

Goddess Worship...and the Female Gender

Session/Paper Number

62.2

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