Design of Byzantine Churches

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In this study three Byzantine Churches from Kadıkalesi (Anaia), Başpınar and Aigai were selected as the case areas to study the characteristics of wall paintings from Byzantine period in Western Anatolia (Figure 1).

Figure 1. Location of Anaia, Başpınar and Aigai

(Source: Ramsey 1890)

1. Kadıkalesi (Anaia)

Kadıkalesi is an ancient settlement located in Davutlarlar in the south of KuÅŸadası – Aydın. It is located 8 km from the centre of KuÅŸadası. The site is surrounded by summerhouses at the present (Figure 2).

Kadıkalesi is an upstate castle built in 12th century AD. It is a part of Byzantine circle of defense against Turks. The ancient name of Kadıkalesi has been identified as Anaia. Kadıkalesi (Anaia) was founded in a location opposing Samos Island that controls the Samos Strait. It was bordered by Ephesos in the north and Miletos ancient city in the south.

Figure 2. Aerial photograph of Kadıkalesi (WEB1)

Anaia is situated on a tumulus dating back to the prehistoric ages. Earliest ruins in Kadıkalesi is dated to late chalcolithic period. Six different settlement strata from late chalcolithic to Byzantine have been determined by excavations (Akdeniz 2007). These are:

Stratum I- Islam-Byzantine (Anaia)

Stratum II- Ancient Greece-Roman Empire

Stratum III- Late Bronze Age (three phases)

Stratum IV- Middle Bronze Age

Stratum Va- Early Bronze Age III

Stratum Vb- Early Bronze Age II

Stratum Vc- Early Bronze Age I

Stratum VI- Late Chalcolithic Age

Name Anaia is first seen in the list of taxpaying towns of Attic-Delos Union in the first half of the 5 century BC. There is a lack of knowledge for the Hellenistic period of Anaia. A temple dedicated to Hera had been present in Anaia in the Roman period (2nd – 3rd century AD). By the adoption of Christianity as the official religion in 4th century AD Anaia had been an episcopacy center. In 13th century Anaia had been promoted to archbishop center. The city was transferred to the Genosians in 1261. Through the following 50 years the city was occupied by the Genosians, the Venetians, the Catalans and the Turks. Anaia was captured by the Turks in the early 1300s. In the 14th century the area was under the rule of Aydınoglu Emirate and then in the 15th century it became under the rule of Ottomans (Mercangöz 2007).

Scientific excavation in Anaia began in 2001 under the supervision of Prof.Dr. Zeynep Mercangöz (Ege University). At first the aim of the excavation was to do some clearing and let the castle seen with all its magnificence. But in 2005 a monumental church-monastery complex was uncovered. The Church has a basilical plan with three naves and an apse. Apse of the church is adjacent to fortress wall. There is a five stepped brick synthronon in the apse. On the west end of the church there are an esonarthex (inner narthex) and an exonarthex (outer narthex) that enclose the esonarthex at three sides. On the southeast corner of the esonarthex a chapel is located adjacent to east wall of exonarthex and south wall of nave. There is a cistern associated with the church on the west of exonarthex (Figure 3, 4). Brick and rubble stone had been used in rows in masonry of church.

Figure 3. Partial plan of the church complex (WEB 2)

Figure 4. Nave of the church

The church has been decorated with wall paintings which only a small fragment is present. The most preserved paintings are located on the nathex walls, synthronon walls and clover planned space at the west of exonarthex (Figure 5).

Figure 5. Wall painting fragments on the walls of a: esonarthex, b: nave, c: synthronon

A substructure located under the apse of the church was uncovered during 2012 excavations. This space can be reached through an arched opening on the eastern end of the north facade of the church. The walls of the substructure were built with cut stone blocks. Brick was used for the construction of the vault. At a later period a pair of buttresses and arches were added for reinforcement of the vault (Figure 6). The vault of the substructure has been decorated with intensive wall paintings (Figure 7).

Figure 6. General view of the substructure. A: from north to south, B: from south to north

Figure 7. Wall paintings on the vault of the substructure

2. Başpınar

Mount Nif is located on the east of İzmir Bay. It is bordered with Kemalpaşa lowland on the north, Karabel strait on the east and Torbalı lowland on the east. Former name of the Mount Nif was Olympos. Although there are many ruins of different cultures dated from the eight century BC to the thirteen century AD, most of them are from Hellenistic and Byzantine periods (Tulunay 2008).

The first Archaeological excavations began in 2006 in Mount Nif. Excavations continues on four different settlements which are Karamattepe, Ballıcaoluk, Dağkızılca and Başpınar (Figure 8). An archaic settlement which was used as necropolis at hellenistic period in Karamattepe, fortification walls in Ballıcaoluk, a necropolis in Dağkızılca and a Byzantine complex in Başpınar was discovered (Tulunay 2008).





Figure 8. Excavation areas of Nif (Olympus) Mountain Research and Excavation Project (WEB 3)

Figure 9. General view of Başpınar Church

BaÅŸpınar is located on the southeastern slope of Mount Nif. Excavations on BaÅŸpınar began in 2007 as a part of “Nif (Olympus) Mountain Research and Excavation Project” under the supervision of Prof.Dr. Elif Tül Tulunay (Ä°stanbul University).

Ruins on BaÅŸpınar is a Byzantine complex of two adjacent churches and a chapel located on the south of churches (Figure 9). The church on the north (Building A) is a three aisled basilica with a apse which is circular from inside and polygonal from outside (Tulunay 2012). The church is 20*17 m in dimension. The church on the south (Building B) has a cross-in-square plan with three circular apses (Yalçın 2011a). There is a simple synthronon in the central apse. Narthex is located on the west of churches.

Figure 9. Aerial Photograph of Church complex

Brick and rubble stone had been used in rows in masonry of churches (Figure 10a). Although the floor covering of the churches was damaged by illegal excavations in some parts “opus sectile” covering is preserved (Figure 10b). Building A had been decorated with intensive wall paintings which only a small part survived today (Figure 10c, 10d). These paintings represent different building stages due to two different finishing layers (Figure 10e). Paintings are generally decorative geometric bordures and stylized floral designs. According to the construction technique, palette and decorative characteristics of paintings and characteristics of the pottery covered through excavations the church complex is dated to Lascaris Period (13th century AD) (Yalçın 2011b).






Figure 10. General views from Başpınar Church. a: brick and rubble stone rows in masonry, b: Opus sectile floor covering, c-d: wall painting fragments, e: plaster layers

3. Aigai

The ancient city of Aigai was located on Mount Gün at the 2 km south of Yunddağı Köseler Village in Manisa. Aigai was one of the twelve cities of Aeolia founded by Aeolians migrated from Greece and settled in northwest Anatolia (Strabon 2005). Archaeological excavations indicate that the foundation of Aigai goes back to the first half of the seventh century BC (DoÄŸer 2007). Aigai make a stand against Persian dominance in 547 BC and maintained its independence. The city had been dominated by the Kingdom of Pergamon until 133 BC. After that Aigai had been dominated by Roman Empire. Aigai was abandoned due to Arabic raids in seventh century AD. In 12 – 13th centuries the settlement contunied as a small Byzantine fortress on a limited area behind the Iron Gate (Sezgin 2013).

Figure 11. Site plan of Aigai (Source: Bohn and Schuchhardt 1889)

The first research on the Ancient city was carried out by S. Reinach and W.M. Ramsay in 1881. The first excavations in Aigai was conducted by French researcher M.A. Clerck in the summer of 1882. The most extensive study was conducted by Pergamon excavation members R. Bohn and C. Scuchhardt (Figure 11) (Sezgin 2013). Recent excavation (since 2004) in Aigai is carried out by a team from Ege University Archaeology Department under the presidency of Prof. Dr. Ersin DoÄŸer.

Figure 12. Agora wall of Aigai

Figure 13. Theatre of Aigai

The most important structures survived in Aigai are bouleterion, agora, theatre, macellum, necropolis, cisterns, Tiberius Gate, Iron Gate and Byzantine Chapel (Figure 12-13).

Byzantine Chapel is located near eastern city wall on the plain called the Iron Gate. The Chapel is a simple building with a rectangular plan (12.40*6.20m) and a single apse (Figure 14). Due to the tomps on the northeast corner of the apse wall, it is thought that the building has served as a burial chapel for the small Christian community. Walls are constructed with spolia stone blocks on the outer parts and alternating brick and stone material on the inner parts. Mud mortar is used. Traces of lime plaster are observed on the interior sides of the walls. Byzantine coins and glazed potteries found in chapel during excavations prove that the building was in use in 12 – 13th centuries (DoÄŸer and Sezgin 2012).

Figure 14. Byzantine Chapel


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