Church

Turkey: Church discovered in world’s biggest underground city in Nevşehir with never-before-seen frescos

“Turkey: Church discovered in world’s biggest underground city in Nevşehir with never-before-seen frescos”

by Matt Atherton via “IBT

Church fresco

An 1,500-year-old underground church has been discovered in Turkey with never-before-seen frescoes depicting Jesus and “bad souls being killed”. The church was found in the world’s largest known underground city in the Cappadocia region of central Turkey.

The frescoes have been described as depicting Jesus rising into the sky – known in Christianity as the Ascension – and the destroying of evil – known as the Last Judgement. The discovery of the church itself – which archaeologists suggest could be more than 1,500 years old – still has secrets to be revealed, as so far only the roof and uppermost part of the walls have been uncovered.

“Only a few of the paintings have been revealed,” said researcher Ali Aydin, who told the Hurriyet Daily News: “There are important paintings in the front part of the church showing the crucifixion of Jesus and his ascension to heaven. There are also frescoes showing the apostles, the saints and other prophets Moses and Elyesa.”

An urban housing project was taking place in the city of Nevşehir, where the church was found. It is part of a huge number of early dwellings, which form the largest known ancient underground city. The underground city itself was discovered in 2014, and around four miles of tunnels have been uncovered. The experts believe people lived here around 5,000 years ago.

Archaeologists have had to pause their excavations, however, as the winter humidity can damage the paintings. However, they have managed to reveal the ceiling of the structure which mainly sits underground, and were fascinated by the huge frescoes which can be found across the inside of the roof and top of the walls.

“We know that such frescoes have so far never been seen in any other church,” said Hasan Ünver, mayor of Nevşehir. “It was built underground and has original frescoes that have survived to this day. This place is even bigger than the other historical churches in Cappadocia.

“It is reported that some of the frescoes here are unique. There are exciting depictions like fish falling from the hand of Jesus Christ, him rising up into the sky, and the bad souls being killed. When the church is completely revealed, Cappadocia could become an even bigger pilgrimage center of Orthodoxy,.”

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Road workers find 1,500-year old church near Jerusalem

“Road workers find 1,500-year old church near Jerusalem”

by Ruth Schuster via “Haaretz”

The floor plan of the Byzantine church found by Abu Ghosh.

The remains of a large Byzantine-era church has been discovered on an even more ancient road at the entrance to Abu Ghosh, a town in the hills just off the Jerusalem-Tel Aviv highway.

The current excavation season uncovered a church measuring about 16 m in length. The church featured a large side chapel, 6.5 by 3.5 meters in area, with a white mosaic stone floor. A baptismal font in the form of a four-leafed clover, symbolizing the cross, was installed in the chapel’s northeast corner, the Israel Antiquities Authority says.

The four-clover leaf shaped baptismal font found in the 1,500-year Byzantine church by Abu Ghosh. Photo by Annette Nagar, courtesy of the Israel Antiquities Authority

Fragments of red-colored plaster found in the rubble strewn throughout the building indicate that the church walls had been decorated with frescoes, the IAA adds. The site had a water source – the ‘Ain Naqa‘a seep spring.

Rooms that may have served as dwelling quarters and storage were uncovered just west of the church.

Among the other finds at the site were oil lamps, coins, glass vessels, marble fragments, and mother-of-pearl shells.

A small oil lamp, seen against the white mosaic floor of the Byzantine church found by Abu Ghosh. Photo by Assaf Peretz, courtesy of the IAA

As are so many archaeological finds in Israel, this one was made by the National Roads Company, in this case while expanding the Tel Aviv-Jerusalem highway. The company is also funding the excavation by the IAA, headed by Annette Nagar.

“The road station and its church were built in the Byzantine period beside the ancient road leading between Jerusalem and the coastal plain,” Nagar said in a statement. . . . .

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