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Exciting discovery in 1,500-year-old cave in Diyarbakır

2 November 2023 18:21 (UTC+04:00)
Exciting discovery in 1,500-year-old cave in Diyarbakır

By News Center

After a coin belonging to the reign of Byzantine Emperor Anastasius I was found during the surface research carried out in different areas in the Inkaya District of Diyarbakır's Kulp region, excavations started in 2021 by the Diyarbakır Museum Directorate in the said region.

The excavation continues with the participation of a total of 35 people, 15 of whom are experts. During the excavation, artifacts such as coins, oil lamps, columns, and bases were found in the area, and the ruins of a building were identified at the point where the work was concentrated. While it was determined that the building whose outer walls were revealed was a church, the teams reached graves spread in different areas of the building during the work they carried out inside the church.

During the archaeological excavation carried out in the Kulp district of Diyarbakır, the ruins of a 1500-year-old church with 46 graves were discovered.

"46 graves were found in the church"

Diyarbakır Museum Deputy Director Müjdat Gizligöl stated that they started excavations in 2021 with the permission of the General Directorate of Cultural Heritage and Museums.

Stating that they discovered a building that they did not think was a church ruin before in the excavations they carried out, Gizligöl said, "During the excavations this year, it was clearly understood that this is a Byzantine church. Our work here has accelerated. The church was probably used in the 5th, 6th and 7th centuries, and then was destroyed and used as a cemetery until the 13th century. 46 graves were found in the church. These belong to many different people, including adults, children, women, and men. The graves are spread throughout the church."

Stating that the church is one of the oldest Byzantine churches in Diyarbakır, but it is very damaged, Gizligöl said that they are also working on rock tombs and a quarry at the excavation site, apart from the church.

Stating that they have found 13 inventories and 39 studies in the excavations so far and transferred them to the museum, Gizlingöl said, "Coins, arches, lamps (the hemispherical ball under the spindle used in spinning), columns and their bases, grave findings.... It is possible to come across all kinds of historical cultural assets that reflect the period. The artefacts we found because we analysed them are valuable in terms of providing information about the culture and lifestyle of that period."

"The church ruins are more similar to the examples in Syria"

Archaeologist Kemal Atak, who is in charge of the excavation field, stated that they started the excavations based on the coin they found in the region, belonging to the Byzantine Emperor Anastasius I, dated between 491-518 AD.

Stating that the foundation of the church dates back to the 5th and 6th centuries, Atak said: "The church ruins are more similar to the examples in Syria. The church has a single nave and was later enlarged by additions. We have now identified the walls surrounding the church. The church has a rectangular plan, 25 meters long and 15 meters wide. Inside the church, there are metal crosses and architecture. There are cross motifs drawn on the blocks. Its architecture offers us a basilica plan. It is a rectangular building with an apse (which refers to the vertical axis of a standard two-dimensional graphic). This church represents the first examples when we look at the finds and its architectural plan. This dates back to 1500 years ago."

Atak stated that the apse of the church was very narrow and that they thought that the building was previously a small temple built as a chapel (a temple or sacred area of ​​Christians, sometimes small and affiliated with a large institution), and then, as the population increased, it was turned into a large church by making additions.

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