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The Archaeology Of The Stylite

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Chapter Summary

Stylites or pillar ascetics and their Syrian prototype, Symeon the Elder, are well known from our literary sources and have been studied extensively within late antique historiography. This is in contrast to the far more limited attention that has been paid to the archaeological evidence of the stylites' pillars, their spatial setting and infrastructure, their representations and other material forms of evidence. This chapter seeks to outline what has been achieved so far on the archaeology of the stylites and proposes a possible agenda for future research, particularly in Syria and Mesopotamia. Essentially, a stylite pillar consists of three parts: a base, a shaft and some sort of platform for the ascetic to live on at the top. Not surprisingly, the most impressive site for the modern visitor to experience the world of the stylites today is Symeon the Elder's posthumous martyrium at Qalat Siman.

Keywords: Qalʾat Simʿān; stylites' pillars; Syrian prototype



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