The excavation and restoration of the monastery of Saint Symeon Stylites in the province of Hatay in Turkey, near Samadag, the medieval port of Antioch at the mouth of the Orontes River, has been underway for at least 60 years.
Once all the work is completed, as reported by Anadolu, the monument will be the main religious tourist attraction in the area.
The monastery of Saint Symeon is considered an early Christian center dedicated to religious education. It was founded in the 6th century from the Antioch-born ascetic, who was a proponent of stylites as he lived for 37 years standing on top of a pillar with prayer and repentance.
The third phase of the excavations is currently underway —the first by the French in the 1930s and the second by Georgians in the 1960s. As reported by pontos-news.gr, the 81,000-square-meter excavation employs 15 people in an effort to bring to light the monastery’s katholikon, the baptistery and the cistern.
It is headed by Dr. Aise Ersoy from the Archaeological Museum of Hatay, whose team has already discovered the mosaic floor of the temple which depicts animals. As he told Anadolu, the earthquakes destroyed a large part of the monastery, which will be “rebuilt” in 3D.
Also, the extensive use of glass tiles has resulted in much of the floor being damaged.
Excavations at the baptistery are expected to begin in 2021; this is an important part of the monastery that still remains “untouched”. Dr. Aise Ersoy said that Saint Symeon chose this location at the top of the mountain to be close to God after he lost his whole family during an earthquake around 530 AD.
The ascetic’s reputation was such that believers from all over Anatolia came to the monastery to ask him to heal them and to hear his sermons.