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Ancient church discovered in western Turkey

ISTANBUL - Daily News with wires | 1/31/2011 12:00:00 AM |

An ancient church mentioned in the Bible has been discovered in western Turkey.

An ancient church mentioned in the Bible has been discovered in western Turkey, according to the head of the excavation.

Culture and Tourism Minister Ertuğrul Günay visited the ancient city of Laodicea on Sunday in Denizli province and was briefed by Professor Celal Şimşek, head of the excavation team. The professor said they have discovered the Laodicea Church, one of the seven mentioned in the Bible. Şimşek said the church from the fourth century A.D. was found by underground radar search, a system they have tried this year for the first time. “The major part of the church, which is built on an area of 2,000 square meters, has kept its original [status].”

Minister Günay said he is very excited about the discovery, adding that archeology in Turkey developed greatly recently and the ministry is supporting academics fully. The minister said the excavations have been running nonstop since the site was transferred to the municipality of Denizli. “This summer we may invite the foreign press and organize a gathering after important steps are taken for renovation and the building is fully unearthed.” The minister said the church added to the already present historical richness of the ancient city and said he was happy that important sites other than Ephesus are coming into the spotlight. According to the minister, the baptismal pool at the Laodicea Church is even more exciting than the one at Hagia Sophia in Istanbul.

At a very early period, the city of Laodicea became one of the chief seats of Christianity, and the see of a bishop. Laodicea receives passing mention in the epistle to the Colossians and is one of the seven churches of Asia mentioned in the Book of Revelations. The Laodicean church is thought to have been founded by the Colossian Epaphras, a Christian preacher who spread the Gospel to his fellow Colossian citizens.

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