The church submerged under the Iznik Lake becomes more visible after water level drops

The remains of a 1,500-year-old church dedicated to St Neophytos have become more visible after the water level of the Iznik Lake in Turkey dropped. Greek Reporter quotes Daily Sabah, announcing that draught and pollution reduction have contributed to a better sight of the ruins, now situated only 1.5-2 meters below water level.

The building dates back to the 4th-5th centuries and it was discovered by accident in 2014, while aerial photos of the Iznik Lake were being taken on the site of the ancient city of Nicea, where the First Ecumenical Synod was organized.

The ruins are approximately 20 meters from the lake bank. Scientists believe the church was submerged after an earthquake which happened in year 740.

Several artefacts were discovered during the archaeological excavations in 2015, with the goal of turning the ruins into an underwater museum.

Professor Mustafa Şahin says the church was dedicated to St Neophytos, being built on the place of his martyrdom.

“Neophytos is among the saints and devout Christians who were martyred during the time of Roman emperors Diocletian and Galerius, when bans and punishments against Christians were common. (…) He was killed by Roman soldiers in 303, 10 years before the Edict of Milan that freed Christianity”, declared Mustafa Şahin for Hurriyet Daily News.

When he was martyred, St Neophytos was only 16 years old.