Early Anatolian church found in Karabük
A 1,500-year-old structure believed to be one of the earliest churches in Anatolia has been unearthed during archaeological excavations in the ancient city of Hadrianapolis (Paphlagonia) in the Black Sea province of Karabük’s Eskipazar district.
Experts believe Hadrianapolis was established in the first century and served as a settlement until the eighth century.
Speaking to the media, Ersin Çelikbaş, a member of Karabük University’s archaeology department, said the structure is believed to be one of the oldest churches in Anatolia.
“The find dates back to the mid-fifth century. When we take into consideration church architectures in Anatolia, we can say that this one is one of the earliest churches in Anatolia. Ancient resources on Saint Stylos Alpius mention the existence of a men’s monastery and women’s monastery belonging to him in Eskipazar. In our works, we have a big opportunity to detect the existence of these monasteries or churches. The church is in a very important location. It is nearly 20 meters in length and has significant floor coverings,” he said.
“We found important figures on the mosaics. This place was a big ancient city after the fourth century. Stylos Alpius was born here and died here. So this city is very important for the Christian world. We know very well that the Christians arrived in the Amasra harbor during this era and visited Hadrianapolis. Later, they went to Istanbul for commercial purposes,” he added.
Excavations for the structure, whose floor is decorated with mosaics, have been continuing under the inspection of Kastamonu Museum.
Çelikbaş said that the church is located on the pilgrimage route.
“There are Christian structures in Hadrianapolis. We found that these structures cover an area of 20 kilometers from the center of Hadrianapolis. We will work on them in the coming years and support them with archaeological findings. Hadrianapolis is the most important archaeological city in the western Black Sea region,” Çelikbaş said.
Ancient city of Hadrianapolis
Located three kilometers to the east of Eskipazar, Hadrianapolis had settlements in the late Hellenistic, Roman and early Byzantine periods. Archaeological surface surveys have uncovered 14 public buildings and other structures in the ancient city.
Among these public buildings are two baths, two churches, a defense structure, rock tombs, a theater, an arched and domed structure, a monumental cultic niche, walls, a villa, other monumental buildings and some religious buildings.
The church floors are decorated with mosaics and have images of the rivers of Geon, Phison, Tigris and Euphrates imprinted on them, which are mentioned in the Bible. Various animals are also depicted in the mosaics of the ancient city, which has been likened to the ancient city of Zeugma.
Excavation works in Hadrianapolis started in 2003 and have been continuing with intervals.