Dark and Ferudun Özgümüş
The rescue archaeology programme for the walled area of Byzantine Constantinople reported in BBBS 25 and 26 (the Istanbul Rescue Archaeological Survey) continued in 2001, after a year-long pause to analyse data resulting from the 1998 and 1999 seasons in the districts of Ayvansaray, Balat, Kocamustafapasa and Yedikule. During 2000, the project’s Turkish co-director, Dr Özgümüs, undertook his own separate survey in the districts of Fener, Unkapanı and Cibalı, but this ‘Golden Horn survey’ was not part of this project and so is not reported here.
As described in earlier issues of BBBS, the Istanbul Rescue Archaeological Survey was initiated, and all its work is co-directed, by Dr Ken Dark, Director of the Research Centre for Late Antique and Byzantine Studies at the University of Reading. It is co-directed by Dr Özgümüs of Istanbul University, and sponsored by the Late Antiquity Research Group (LARG) – as part of its ‘Istanbul Rescue Archaeology Project’ – and The British Museum, in collaboration with Istanbul University. In 2001, the British Institute of Archaeology at Ankara joined these as a sponsor of the survey.
The Istanbul Rescue Archaeological Survey employs methods of ‘rescue survey’ (principally ‘site-watching’ and the systematic, street-by-street, survey of surface remains) to record all Byzantine and pre-Byzantine material in the survey area that is unpublished or at risk of damage or destruction. Large quantities of previously unpublished material (including architectural fragments, column capitals and column shafts) have been recorded across the west of the Byzantine city, ranging from individual sherds of pottery to standing structures. This has resulted in the discovery of several ‘new’ foci of Byzantine activity and substantially increased known material evidence at several sites prominent in written sources.
In 2001 survey concentrated on the areas of Fatih, Zeyrek and Karagümrük, well-known to Byzantinists as the locations of the Church of the Holy Apostles and the Pantocrator monastery. Fine, but unprovenanced, Byzantine columns with monograms and mason’s marks and other architectural fragments, were recorded at Zeyrek Han, immediately east of the surviving Pantocrator churches, where these are employed as restaurant garden ornaments.
Architectural material was also found at the Ottoman mosque of Nisancı Camii and in the nearby cemetery at Meymenet Sokak. This included complete monolithic columns, an elaborately carved panel and a fragment of spiral-fluted stonework.
Other finds included a column capital and monolithic column shaft at Mehmedaga Camii and an unpublished fragment of a carved stone panel from the well-known standing Middle Byzantine church at St John in Trullo. Kasim Aga Camii, examined in detail by the project in 1999, is on the boundary between the 1999 and 2001 areas and was re-visited, resulting in the discovery of a porphyry monolithic column and other architectural stonework, along with an additional length of the walling recorded in 1999. The latter – a straight east-west wall with a northern apse – runs beneath the standing Byzantine structure and clearly pre-dates it.
Two sites produced particularly interesting in situ evidence. At Seyh Süleyman Mescidi additional architectural fragments were discovered west of the standing Byzantine building today used as small mosque. Entering the previously-known substructure below the mosque it was clear that the walls are covered with unreported Byzantine-period whitewash decorated with red paint. The painting outlines side niches and a (also previously unreported) series of ribs radiating from a central boss in the domed ceiling. The first accurate measured plans of the substructure (perhaps a burial crypt) were made by the project.
New material came from the mosque of Fatih Camii, rebuilt in the eighteenth century but constructed between 1463-1470 on or near the site of the Byzantine Church of the Holy Apostles. During fieldwork the broad precinct surrounding the mosque was being re-paved, exposing substantial pieces of one or two large monolithic columns identical to some of those re-used in the mosque courtyard and adjacent Tabhane Medresesi, usually said to derive from the Church of the Holy Apostles. A well inside the mosque seems to be built of Byzantine brickwork and another small fragment of Byzantine architectural stonework was recorded in one of the walls of the surrounding complex.
The most surprising discovery came immediately after the 2001 fieldwork, when Ken Dark realised that some of what had been assumed to be the mosque foundation clearly pre-dates remaining parts of the fifteenth-century structure. The stubs of walls of a Byzantine structure were apparently re-used in situ for the later mosque and its enclosed cemetery. Although fragmentary, these suggest a large cruciform building with a rectilinear eastern enclosure. Given the location he suggests that the ‘new’ structure can be interpreted as the Church of the Holy Apostles and its eastern enclosure as the textually-attested courtyard surrounding the mausoleum of Constantine the Great. If so, the second greatest church in the capital of the Byzantine Empire, hitherto believed entirely lost, still stands up to three courses high in places. In view of the importance of this, a detailed presentation of the evidence has already been submitted for publication.
If permission is granted, the project will continue in 2002. Preliminary interim reports for the 1998, 1999 and 2001 seasons, containing brief accounts of all sites examined, are available for £7.00 each (post free) from: K.R.Dark, 324 Norbury Avenue, London, SW16 3RL, UK. All enquiries about the project should be directed by post to the same address, or by email to: K.R.Dark@reading.ac.ukAcknowledgements
The project directors would like to thank the Turkish Ministry of Culture for granting permission for the 2001 work and to our Government Representative, Ms. T. Kavala for her continual support, encouragement and help throughout the survey. We would also like to thank all the authorities, especially the Museums and the staff of Fatih Camii, for permission to visit their property and for their help. Thanks are also due to those who actually carried out the survey under our direction and to the sponsoring bodies, especially LARG and The British Museum. Dr A. Harris deserves special gratitude both for assistance relating to LARG and for participating in the 2001 season.
Dr Ken Dark would also like to thank Ms E. Ecer and Mr K. Ipek of the Turkish Embassy and Consulate in London for their help and encouragement.