Zeugma-like mosaics found in Sinop
SİNOP – Demirören News Agency
After the stone chest presumed to be part of the cross on which Jesus was crucified, the excavations at the Balatlar building complex in the northern province of Sinop have unearthed mosaics similar to those in the ancient city of Zeugma.
Excavations at the Balatlar building complex, which has a history of 2,300 years in the city center, were started 11 years ago with the support of the Culture and Tourism Ministry. Now the excavation team is working to unearth the mosaics under the presidency of Mimar Sinan Fine Arts University Art History Department academic Professor Gülgün Köroğlu. Tens of thousands of artifacts and burial chambers belonging to the 7th century have been unearthed during the excavations so far.
During the excavations in 2013, a stone chest presumably contained within a piece of the cross where Jesus was crucified was unearthed. The artifact, considered sacred by the Christian world, was preserved in the Sinop Archeology Museum.
Within the scope of the recent excavations, mosaics similar to the ones in Gaziantep and the ancient city of Zeugma, dating between the 5th and 6th centuries, were also found.
Noting that this year, for the first time, the Turkish Historical Society and Sinop Municipality supported the excavations, Köroğlu said, “The work is going very well and excavations in this period are almost finished, and now the restoration work is ongoing.”
“Studies on mosaics are continuing intensely. After the restoration, exhibition platforms will be arranged for these mosaics,” the professor said. “This area will be opened to visitors in the coming years.”
Underlining that the mosaics found are of noteworthy importance concerning the Black Sea region, Köroğlu said, “Because we always remember Zeugma when mosaics come to mind, therefore, the mosaics of the Black Sea are very important.”
“These mosaics are ‘tomb offering’ mosaics from the early Byzantine period. These mosaics are on the tombs, which were made for the wealthy people of that period,” the professor added.
Stating that after the mosaic works are completed, the tombs will also be unearthed, the professor noted: “We find this type of structure and mosaics in Jordan and Syria. I came across the mosaic tiles on the graves in Turkey for the first time in Sinop.”
Noting that this year’s restoration work will be completed in November, and the project will start again in March, Köroğlu said, “Work will continue for one more year, and restoration work has started on wall paintings.”
Highlighting that the bird figures on the mosaics attract a lot of attention, Köroğlu said: “These birds represent people who believe in faith. All of them have a symbol in the Christian religion. There are birds of heaven, little birds and parrots as well. In fact, these are compositions that are widely used in the Christian religion. Some birds in the mosaics have ribbons around their necks, which is a Persian tradition and is a sign of nobility.”