St. Nicholas dig needs more land

St. Nicholas dig needs more land

St. Nicholas dig needs more land

To allow the full excavation of the historic house of St. Nicholas, also known as Santa Claus in Turkey, the state must assume control of local land around the site, according to the chief historian on duty.

Archeologists have unearthed a number of artifacts and structures in the ancient city of Myra located in the southern province of Antalya’s Demre, the home of the St. Nicholas Church, a site that draws many faith-based Christian tourists, said Sema Doğan, who heads excavation works. 

Excavations have been continuing since 1989 under Turkey’s Culture and Tourism Ministry and Hacettepe University in the capital of Ankara, said Doğan, who also teaches art history at the university. 

However, privately owned land around the site has to be assumed by the state for the excavations to continue, she said. 

“We were able to unearth some very small sections of the monastery,” Doğan said. 

“There’s an important structure that we call the residence of the bishop [St. Nicholas] but unfortunately, the walls of this structure extend north, out of our territory, she said. 

There are other unexplored historic areas on adjacent land that now belongs to locals, but in order for the excavations to continue, all those properties have to be brought under state control, said Doğan. 

“These structures are very important to us and in order for them to be explored, the greenery surrounding the area must be nationalized,” she said. 

The historic St. Nicholas lived and died in the area in the fourth century A.D. The church containing his tomb was built some two centuries later.