New excavation season underway at St. Nicholas church in ancient Myra


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Archaeological works have started at the St. Nicholas Memorial Museum in the southern Turkish province of Antalya’s Demre district, as well as in the ancient city of Myra-Andriake.

New excavation season underway at St. Nicholas church in ancient Myra
The Byzantine Church of St. Nicholas in Myra [Credit: Turkey Cultural Tour]

The museum situated in Demre and listed on UNESCO’s Temporary World Heritage List and the nearby Greek monastery have great importance for tourism and science, said Prof. Sema Doğan, head of the excavation project at St. Nicholas Museum.

The 25-year project carried out at the site with the collaboration of the Culture and Tourism Ministry and Hacettepe University had been headed by Prof. Yıldız Ötüken, a member of staff at the Art History Department of the Faculty of Literature at Hacettepe University, for 20 years.  Doğan, a member of staff at the same department, has been in charge of the excavation for the last five years.

This year’s excavation activity at the museum will continue for two months with the participation of eight scholars and six students from Hacettepe University and Vienna University, as well as nine workers.

New excavation season underway at St. Nicholas church in ancient Myra
Interior of St. Nicholas church in Myra [Credit: Turkey Cultural Tour]

Works will continue in the west wing of the museum, which was constructed in the 6th century and dedicated to St. Nicholas, who lived in the 4th century.

Last year’s findings included a vault covered in soil and the structure’s authentic entrance. This year’s excavations will focus on the elimination of the dirt and soil suffused in the vault. The upper part of the structure will be scraped to reveal the construction as a whole. After the building is excavated, works on strengthening the structure will begin and the data will be processed.

Doğan highlighted the museum’s significance for Turkey’s cultural heritage, saying, “Northern, eastern and western monastery structures contain notable data concerning our tourism and scientific advancements. It is a central monument for the Orthodox Christian world as it is home to St. Nicholas’ tomb. It preserved its significance during the Middle Ages as a place of pilgrimage. Important data will be obtained as our archaeological project prevails in the upcoming years. Its remaining structures and architecture will be unearthed.”

New excavation season underway at St. Nicholas church in ancient Myra
View of the archaeological site of Myra-Andriake [Credit: DHA]

This year’s works have also started in one of the most important Lycian Union cities in Demre, the ancient city of Myra-Andriake. The head of the excavations, Prof. Nevzat Çevik said the city would draw more attention with new findings to be unearthed during excavations carried out by 20 archaeologists and seven students for the next two months.

Çevik said the works would focus on Andriake, which was the coastal town of Myra.

“The fields near the Andriake Open Air Museum and the Lycian settlements will be handled first. The works in Church A will also be finished and the chambers of the first graveyard in the ancient city will be given priority.”

Çevik said the coastal town of Andriake was one of the biggest harbors of the Mediterranean and one of three big granaries in the era.

Source: Hurriyet Daily News [August 02, 2016]



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