Archeologists excavating a sixth-century church in southern Turkiye unearthed a mosaic made by a former slave who thanked God after being freed.
Archeologists continue to work in the area where, in 2007 while trying to plant an orange sapling in his garden, Mehmet Keles came across the church, once known as the Church of the Holy Apostles, as well as mosaics including animal figures, stone tombs, and bone remains, in the Arsuz district of the Hatay province.
In recent excavations, archaeologists found the area with mosaics, including a peacock figure and an inscription in which a slave thanked God after being freed.
Ayse Ersoy, the director of the Hatay Archeology Museum, told Anadolu Agency that Hatay is known for its history, nature, and culture and that the Arsuz district has had an important place as a port city since ancient times.
Ersoy said that the church and mosaics found in the area are important for knowing what the city was like in the sixth and 12th centuries.
“A three-naved basilica church was unearthed here. There are mosaics on the floor of the church,” she said. “An inscription was unearthed, and it was clear that this church has the name of the Church of the Three Apostles.”
Noting that another mosaic area was unearthed during this year’s excavations, she said researchers unearthed “a mosaic made by a slave to thank God after his emancipation.”
“There are peacocks and an inscription on the mosaic. And that shows heaven,” she added.
This place will be opened as an open-air museum
Pointing out that many local and foreign tourists flock to the city for seaside tourism, Ersoy said that they aim to open the church by building a roof over it.
“This place will be opened to visitors as an open-air museum. History, sand, and sea will be presented to our local and foreign visitors as a total package,” she added.
Noting that there may be a large settlement in the areas where the church is located, Ersoy said excavations in the region will continue.