Sivas Excavations Reveal Grave of Armenian Bishop

SIVAS (ANA)–Archeological excavations carried out at two historic spots in Turkey’s eastern province of Sivas have been completed, uncovering relics dating back to the Ottoman and Seljuk eras together with a memorial grave that experts believe was dedicated to the bishop of Sebastia in Armenia. Sivas, a historic province of Western Armenia, has been under Turkish occupation since the Armenian Genocide of 1915-1923.

Excavations were undertaken in Seljuk Park and Kent Square as part of the Sivas Municipality’s urban regeneration project for the two sites, which are home to relics from some Seljuk madrasahs (religious schools), namely the Buruciye, the Sifahiye and the Cifte Minareli, relics from an Ottoman hamam (Turkish bath) and the Mosque of Kale.

A group of archeologists from the Directorate of Sivas Museum and the Archeology and Art History Center of Cumhuriyet University, or CU, performed the excavations.

A written statement by assistant professor Erdal Eser from CU said the excavations, which started on June 21 and were completed within a month, were made in compliance with rules set by the Council of Preservation for Cultural Heritage in Sivas.

Some relics were moved to the CU where they will be scientifically explored, said the statement.

"The excavations at Seljuk Park have resulted in unveiling of a number of relics that play a significant role in understanding how the city of Sivas was constructed in the Medieval times and thereafter. Relics of a ceramics workshop, a hamam, and three graves have already been preserved in the area. The newly unveiled relics that belonged to two structures, three gravestones and a gravestone with inscriptions in the Armenian language will be displayed in the area that has been re-landscaped to resemble an open air museum," said the statement by Eser.

But the most striking outcome of the excavations project was the unveiling of an ancient grave that had not been damaged and had managed to exist in the form it was set up in centuries ago.

According to Eser, the grave has a unique design and does not include any human bones but has four pieces of animal bones. "At the beginning archeologists thought that the grave could be a remnant from the Mongolian period as Sivas was also under cultural influence of the Ilkhanates, which was ruled by the Genghis Khan’s gran’son Hulagu Khan; but later on we have discovered that there were no human bones in it. Further scientific research showed us that it was a memorial grave that most probably belonged to the Armenian Saint Blaise of Sivas," said the statement.

Saint Blaise was a physician and bishop of Sebaste (modern day Sivas) in Armenia. It is common for historic Armenian gravesites in Turkey to be emptied of their bones, as Turkey continues to wage on institutional campaign to deny an Armenian civilization existed inside its modern borders.


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