Sponsored by: AIA-Ottawa Society
Excavations in the Sanctuary of Ismenion Apollo in Thebes also revealed a later cemetery of Early and Middle Byzantine burials, which are apparently associated with an early Christian hospice or hospital. The skeletons showed that a remarkably high percentage of individuals suffered from significant pathologies with high rates of infectious diseases. Two mass graves are probably associated with the early spread of the Plague of Justinian or a smallpox epidemic. Another epidemic, leprosy, affected nearly everyone in the cemetery, including those who suffered comorbidities such as cancer, brucellosis, and severe trauma. Hospitals serving the whole community were an early innovation of the Byzantine church in Greece, and this project provides a vivid glimpse of the patients whose lives ended there. Thebes also may have been a site of pilgrimage in the early church, drawn by the tomb of St. Luke the Evangelist, located near this cemetery.