Swimming through an ancient basilica

Swimming through an ancient basilica

BURSA – Anadolu Agency
Swimming through an ancient basilica

DHA Photos

Donning their wet gear, administrators in the northwestern province of Bursa recently dove into Lake İznik to take a look at ongoing archaeological work on a basilica whose discovery last year attracted attention around the world.

“It is very exciting to touch an underwater structure,” İznik District Gov. Ali Hamza Pehlivan said following his recent dive to see the basilica along with İznik Mayor Osman Sargın and Uludağ University (UÜ) Archaeology Department head Mustafa Şahin.

“The aim of the work is not to remove the basilica from its place. People will be able to visit it underwater through an underwater system,” Pehlivan said.

Underwater archaeology works have been continuing on the Roman-era basilica that was discovered last year in Lake İznik. 

Swimming through an ancient basilica Swimming through an ancient basilica

The 1,600-year-old basilica, which lies in 1.5 to 2 meters of water, was discovered while photographing the city from the air to make an inventory of historical and cultural artifacts. Archaeologists, historians and art histori-ans believe that the structure collapsed during an earthquake that occurred in the region in 740.

Conducted by the Uludağ University Archaeology Department in collabo-ration with the Culture and Tourism Ministry and Bursa Metropolitan Mu-nicipality, the work aims to obtain detailed information about the basilica.

Before the dive, the district governor said preliminary work had started on the ancient site in 2014 and that they organized the dive to see the basil-ica in its original location. 

“When the work is completely finished, the outcome will be great. Before anything else, thousands of years of artifacts will come to light. It will open to visits of people from Turkey and the world,” Pehlivan said. 

Sargın said Şahin and underwater teams were diving into the basilica non-stop every day. 

“İznik has become the capital of four civilizations and is known in the world. Thanks to the basilica, it will be more recognizable,” Sargın said.

The discovery of the basilica was declared one of top 10 discoveries of 2014 by the Archaeological Institute of America.