A 1,600-year-old church, buried 10 feet under Lake Iznik in Turkey, reveals some fascinating details about the Roman empire. Read on to find out why this is an archaeologist’s dream project. By Deepali Sharma
A church, referred to as the Basilica in Turkey, lies 10 feet under Lake Iznik with some baffling history attached to it. This church is said to have been built in AD 390 by the Romans in Nicaea, an ancient city in north-western Anatolia. It is suggested that a massive earthquake around AD 740 caused the destruction of the church, after which the entire city sank under the lake.
The wrecked church is now covered with algae. It belonged to religious martyr St Neophytos who built this church 10 years before Romans adopted Christianity. Some of the significant discoveries include human graves under the basilica’s main transverse wall known as the ‘bema’ wall. Experts also believe that there are chances that this church is hiding another ancient treasure beneath it, a pagan temple, and that the church may have been built on top of the temple. This temple was built for Greek and Roman God Apollo, the Sun God who is sometimes associated with Jesus.
Mustafa Sahin, Head of Archaeology at Bursa Uludağ University, along with local government leader Alinur Aktaş, have been calling for the site to be established as Turkey’s first underwater archaeological museum. But there would be considerable preservation that would need to happen first, including the construction of a 20-metre high observation tower above the relics and a diving club for visitors to experience underwater archaeology.