Ruins Of Ancient Church Return To View As Waters Clear During Lockdown
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One of the few benefits of lockdown has been the impact it has had on the environment, with people enjoying cleaner air and water in many parts of the world.
The latest example is in Turkey, where the remains of a submerged 1,600-year-old basilica have returned to view.
Incredible photographs show the crystal clear waters of Lake Iznik in the north-western region of the country, with the Byzantine-era basilica just a couple of metres below.
The ruins, which are usually slightly shrouded in algae, were first discovered in 2014 and are an architectural example of early Christianity.
At the time of the find, the Archaeological Institute of America named the basilica as one of the top 10 discoveries of the year.
Historians believe that the basilica was built in AD 390 in honour of St. Neophytos, a Christian saint martyred in AD 303.
Speaking back in 2015, the Head of Archaeology Department at Uludag University, Professor Mustafa Sahin, said: "We think that the church was built in the 4th century or a later date.
"It is interesting that we have engravings from the Middle Ages depicting this killing. We see Neophytos being killed on the lake coast."
However, it's understood the church collapsed during an earthquake around AD 740, causing it to sink into the lake.
Prof Sahin told Live Science that he was surprised about the find as he had been carrying out research in Iznik for years and had never come across it.
He said: "I hadn't discovered such a magnificent structure like that.
"When I first saw the images of the lake, I was quite surprised to see a church structure that clearly."
He echoed these sentiments in an interview with the Archaeological Institute of America, adding: "I did not believe my eyes when I saw it under the helicopter.
"I thought to myself, 'How did nobody notice these ruins before?'"
Prof Sahin also speculated that there might be more than meets the eye with the historic find - in the form of a pagan temple.
Documents about the area show a link between the Roman emperor Commodus and a temple matching the one in Iznik which, at the the time, was known as Nicea.
Discussing these claims, the professor posed the question: "Could this temple have been underneath the basilica remains?"
Featured Image Credit: CEN
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