Wednesday, June 01, 2011

New discoveries in Laodicea, Turkey

Today's Scotsman posts on new discoveries in Turkey: a fourth-century church in Laodicea, for example.

"This is one of the oldest churches in the world to survive in its original state," said Celal Simsek, the archaeologist who is leading the excavation team that has worked through the winter to reveal the huge church that was first spotted underground last year on a sonar scan. "When the ten most important archaeological discoveries of the 21st century are totted up one day, this church will definitely be on the list."

Simsek dates the construction of the church to between 313 and 320AD, immediately after the Edict of Milan, by which Emperor Constantine I of Rome legalised Christianity in the year 313.

Most encouraging is the support of Turkish authorities:

"We have recognised this as a special field of tourism and as a special cultural wealth," Turkish culture minister Ertugrul Gunay said. By next year, his ministry aims to increase the number of religious tourists to Turkey to more than three million, from 1.3 million last year.

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