By Serkan Avci and Mehmet Bayrak
HATAY, Türkiye (AA) - Many icons and Bibles have been unearthed from earthquake debris of a historical Orthodox church in the quake-hit Turkish province of Hatay.
Disaster Area Excavation Directorate, established by the Turkish Culture and Tourism Ministry to save valuable cultural assets in the wreckage after Feb. 6 earthquakes, launched a rescue work in the Antioch Greek Orthodox Church in Hatay.
The church, made of wood and built in 1833, was destroyed by an earthquake in 1872 and faced the same destiny when the twin quakes struck southern Türkiye last month. An excavation team worked meticulously in the church and reached 11 religious icons in the area that turned into a rubble heap.
The team, led by the head of the Art History Department of Kafkas University, Muhammed Arslan, also unearthed a large number of Bibles, including manuscripts, and some liturgical materials -- objects with symbolic meaning used in rituals -- from under the debris.
The artifacts, which were documented, classified, and inventoried, were taken under protection in the temporary excavation warehouse.
Speaking to Anadolu, Arslan stressed the significance of the church.
“There were many liturgical works, especially icons. We removed these materials safely from the scene with our teammates. After we do the inventory work, we will return the works to the church's foundation representatives,” he added.
Arslan also stressed that they worked meticulously during the recovery of the historical artifacts from the rubble, adding that the recovered artifacts are valuable to the church.
*Writing by Seda Sevencan in Ankara.