Thursday, August 09, 2012


For seven and a half months, Dr. Hatice Pamir, a professor of classical archaeology at Antakya’s Mustafa Kemal University, led almost 30 scientists from around the world, aided by about 100 workers, in a massive dig funded by Asfuroğlu.

With its long history involving the ancient Greeks, Romans, early Christians, Byzantines and Ottoman Turks – Turkey is full of layers of ancient culture. The modern city of Antakya was the ancient city of Antioch, one of the great cities of the Roman world that rivaled Alexandria during its heyday. It was also a center of early Christianity: St. Peter the Apostle, one of the founders of the Roman Catholic Church, was said to have lived and preached there for some time.

This city, known for the Cave Church of St. Peter (widely believe to be the first Christian church anywhere) and for fabulous Roman-era tile mosaics unearthed during excavations in the 1930s, now has another gem.

Experts believe they uncovered one of the largest intact tile mosaic floors in the world, measuring just over 9,000 square feet. In the course of the excavations, they also uncovered the remains of buildings and dwellings that go back perhaps 2,300 years.

There are a number of mosaics on the ancient floor. The largest probably belonged to a 6th century public building, possibly a house of government, according to Pamir. The floor is a series of nine side-by-side panels, each panel decorated by a wide variety of geometric patterns in different colors.

Right now the mosaic is covered over and not available for viewing by the public. Neither Pamir nor the Asforoglus have rights to release photos of the finds … so the anticipation builds.


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