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Excavations at the St. Nicholas Church in Demre-Myra and the Restorations-Conservation and Documentation of the Wall Paintings, the 2002 Campaign
Semiha Yıldız ÖTÜKEN*

The 2002 campaign of the excavations at the Church of St. Nicholas in Demre-Myra was conducted inside the north eastern annex, inside and outside the bishopric residence (Structure B) as well as both inside and outside the K5 and K6 rooms of the north annex. Soundings in Structure C2 of the north annex showed that this was the actual burial site of St. Nicholas. The greasy soil and myr (myrtle) leaves samples taken from here were analysed and the results supported our opinion as to the function of this building. The tomb in Myra was visited by the pilgrims for many centuries; the historian Skylitzes reports that John Orphanotrophos, brother of Emperor Michael IV, presented a votive offering of myr oil after he had been healed. 33 unguentaria that were recovered during the excavations are examples of the vessels in which the pilgrims took the sacred oil to their countries.

In 2002, a basin measuring 2.40x1.25x0.40/0.50 m and extending in the north-south direction was uncovered, lying to the northwest of the K5, K6 parts of the north annex. The stone paved structure of 1.25 m adjoining the basin to the south has a small masonry jar plastered with a fine quality pink mortar and it is 0.70 m deep. A jug with two handles was found in situ inside this jar. The pipe connection between the jar and the basin suggests that an organic material that was processed in the basin was transferred to the jug in the jar. The size of this basin is not suitable for processing either grapes or olives. As this arrangement lies only about 1 meter to the north of the chapel where the sacred oil was blessed (Myrophylion) and the sacred oil storeroom (Myrophylakion), all information suggests that it was used in the production of this sacred oil.

The 148 slabs with openwork that were recovered constitute an important group amongst the finds of architectural sculpture. The fact that parallel examples dating from the 5th and 6th centuries have also been found at Aperlai, Melanippe, Andriake, Sura, Limyra and Xanthos in the region suggests that the same stone masters worked throughout the region.

Amongst the noteworthy Late Roman-Early Christian ceramic finds of 2002 are oil lamps, red-slip and painted ware and glazed and unglazed Byzantine pottery. The great majority of the oil lamps belong to the "Anatolian type", so named by Miltner, which have been uncovered at several centres, such as Ephesus in Anatolia and in Greece, but whose place of manufacture is today unknown.

Glass finds were also numerous and noteworthy examples belong to lamps and "windows as well as to bottles, beakers and bracelets. A new group for Demre are those glass finds with folded bodies, and body and mouth fragments that display a variety of decorative techniques.

Three of the coins uncovered in 2002 have been dated. Two belong to the Byzantine Anonymous coin groups of the 10th-11th centuries. The first is Anonymous A2 type Basileios II - Constantine VIII (976-1030/35) and the second is an Anonymous C type Michael IV (1034-1041). The third is a coin of Alexius Ist Comnenus (1081-1118) that was minted in Salonica.

*Prof. Dr. Semiha Yıldız ÖTÜKEN, Hacettepe Üniversitesi, Edebiyat Fakültesi, Sanat Tarihi Bölümü Bşk. Ankara.

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