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S U M M A R Y

A Church Beneath the Sea at Aperlea-Lycia
R. L. VANN*
K. SHEDRICK**
R. L. HOHLFELDER***

In 1996, the authors began the first systematic survey of the ruins both on land and beneath the sea as an extension of the University of Maryland Survey of Ancient Harbors in Turkey. Previous seasons had focused on Cilician harbors and their immediate surroundings. The opportunity to work at Aperlae with a team from the University of Colorado expanded those objectives. Here was not simply a well-preserved waterfront, but one that was inundated and thus held the promise of being more intact. Likewise, Aperlae offered our staff of architects and surveyors a unique opportunity to record the first measured drawings of the site. Fortification walls complete with towers, gates, and posterns communicated with a system of isolated signal towers spread along the adjacent coasts. Within the immediate urban core were at least three churches, two baths of Imperial date, dozens of other public or domestic buildings, as well as a diverse range of cisterns and funerary monuments. The purpose of the paper is to report on the 1998 investigation of an apsidal building in the submerged part of the town’s waterfront.

It has been suggested that this structure, clearly based on a basilican plan with some regional design variation, was sited in an area of the harborfront that was probably in constant use from at least the 1st century BC to the 7th century AD. This location was too critical to Aperlae’s life not to have been occupied by some private or public structure for as long as the site was regularly inhabited. Over a span of centuries one would expect several different buildings to have stood there, each serving this small provincial city in different ways. A Christian church, however, was improbable before the reign of Constantine (306-337 AD). Once the area had been consecrated, it is likely that a church or some type of religious building stood there until Aperlae was abandoned in the aftermath of attacks by Arab corsairs.


*R. L. Vann, School of Architecture, University of Maryland, USA
**K. Shedrick, The Madeira School, McLean, VA, USA
***R. L. Hohlfelder, Department of History, University of Colorado, USA

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