Late Roman Mosaics Rediscovered in Ancient City of Idyrus in Turkey’s Antaliya Province

The Late Roman Early Christian floor mosaics from a 4th century church in Idyrus in Turkey’s Antaliya Province have been rediscovered 40 years later. Photo: Hurriyet Daily News

1,600-year-old Late Roman mosaics decorating the floor of an Early Christian church have been rediscovered and explored further in the ancient city of Idyrus in the Kemer district of the province of Antaliya in Southern Turkey.

The Late Antiquity mosaics were first found in 1976 among the ruins of Idyrus but the excavations were terminated a year later, Hurriyet Daily News reports, citing the state-run Anadolu Agency.

Now the Turkish archaeologists have unearthed the Late Roman mosaics anew, and have started researching them further.

The lead archaeologist for the Idyrus digs, Mustafa Demirel, who is the Director of the Antalya Museum, explains that Hellenistic, Roman, Byzantine and Seljuk Turkish settlements were found in Kemer.

He points out that Idyrus was an ancient city established in the Ayisigi Cove, and the ruins of the Early Christian church reveal its development phases from the Hellenistic Era to the Roman and Eastern Roman (Byzantine) periods.

Part of the church ruins and mosaics were discovered by the Antalya Museum during surface surveys. They were restored and reburied but further archaeological excavations were put on hold for the next 40 years.

Now, 41 years after their original discovery, the 4th century AD Early Christian mosaics have been uncovered under the inspection of the experts from the Antalya Restoration and Conservation Lab.

“After Antalya Governor Munir Karaloglu’s visit, excavations have started again under the academic consultancy of assistant professor Murat Karademir with the participation of students from Selcuk University," Demirel says.

He adds that the renewed excavations in Idyrus focused on the church, which is believed to have been in the center of the ancient city.

The floor mosaics in question were used in the central nave (the place of religious ceremonies) and on the right and left side of the Early Christian church.

“Here we see late-era mosaics with geometrical and botanical motifs. In the entrance of the western part, we found an inscription with the names of people who had made donations during its construction," Demirel says.

“We cannot find too many architectural units because only the foundation of the structure has so far survived," he notes.

This is an important structure featuring the characteristics of the era. The names of the people, who were some form of sponsors for the structure, are written on the inscription," elaborates the lead archaeologist.

The rediscovered Late Roman Early Christian floor mosaics in the Idyrus are made of orange, red, white and grey stones.

Demirel has also announced that his team has found wall ruins, three gates and an apse-like wall in the excavations.

A large number of candles and coins from the Roman Era have also been unearthed in the excavations.

Mustafa Cihad Feslihan, the Governor of Kemer District in Turkey’s Antaliya Province, is quoted as saying that the aim of the renewed research of the ancient city of Idyrus is to finish the archaeological study of the site in order to contribute to the development of cultural tourism in Kemer.

Once the excavations are completed, the ruins of Idyrus are supposed to be turned in an archaeological park.

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