türkçe links to original Turkish article
(HaberTürk Newspaper, 30 May 2018)
Pagans got buried, too. Who knew?
During the restoration of the historic Shaikh Süleyman Mosque
in Zeyrek, Istanbul, a "pagan cemetery" estimated to be 1,700
years old was discovered. The restoration project began on 25
September 2013 and was completed on 7 November 2016.
Archeologist Murat Sav said that the structure that is a mosque
today was originally a cemetery from the Late Roman period.
He explained that "in the basement of the building, over which
the mosque was built, there are two floors dating from the Roman
period. The first floor houses a multi-grave structure with eight
portions, which is called an 'arcosolium' - a cemetery from pagan
times. It is very significant that this has been found in Istanbul.
In one of the portions, a mug made for pouring blood was found.
The place was looted during Byzantine time." Sav added that
during the restoration amphoras from Byzantine times were
found, as well.
The cemetery was built 1,700 years ago during the Late Roman
period. After the Ottoman conquest of Istanbul, the building
was turned into a lodge and mosque by Shaikh Süleyman Efendi.
The site sustained damage from earthquakes and fires in the 18th
century. Prof. Dr. Semavi Eyice, who died the day before yesterday,
had said that claims that the structure was funeral chapel and
library of the Pantokrator Monastery of the Byzantine period
were baseless. Paganism is the general name for beliefs based
on nature. In Istanbul, paganism continued but diminished in
Istanbul until the 7th century, as Christianity spread.
Zeyrek: 'A' marks the spot.