Friday, 22 August 2014

Latest Newspaper Articles On The Rabbit Island Excavations

There have been a number of articles in the Turkish over the past two days regarding excavations on Rabbit Island / Tavşan Adasi / Asar Adasi which may be associated with an end of (excavation) season press release.

The articles suggest that the island will be open to visitors next year, excavations started in 2009 and access has been limited since that date.

The newspaper reports also contain an apparent revised date for some of the human remains first uncovered in 2009. Early reports suggested that the grave constructions and artefacts suggested interment dates from the 5th to the 11th century A.D. however the latest press reports state that some of the remains date from the 3rd century. 

I was only considering the origins of some of the remains earlier this week as I tried to compile a summary of the excavation reports for 2009-2011. It would be interesting if those now dated to the 3rd century have been carbon dated as they most likely pre date the church which has previously thought to have been constructed in the 5th or 6th century.

The Roman persecution of Christians ended with the Edict of Milan in 313 AD and the Council of Nicaea issued the Nicene Creed in 325 making Christianity the religion of the Roman Empire. 

Assuming that any Christian executed for their beliefs would have died before these dates raises several possibilities:

The church was dedicated to members of a local group who been punished for practising their religion prior to 313 and whose remains were reburied in the 5th or 6th century

The remains are “holy relics” which were interred in the church. This is was a known practice later in northern European churches where the remains of saints and other artefacts would be used to attract pilgrims.

That the present church is built on the site of an earlier 3rd century church

The latter is fairly unlikely as it is difficult to believe that followers of what was viewed as an unofficial sect / religion would be allowed to construct a place of worship in such a prominent position. However that does discount the possibility that there was an active covert Christian community practicing in area before 313 AD.

As far as I’m aware there are no biblical references to an early 3rd century Christian community in the area, however there are records of an active Jewish community at Myndos from as early as 139 BC and later around the 4th to 6th century AD

I’ve tried to contact UU regarding the dating of the remains, but I don’t hold out much hope of receiving a reply, past attempts to clarify dates etc have been disappointing.

Haberciniz 21-08-14


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