Church and Cemetery Found at Archaeological Site in Syria

A cemetery and a church recently found at the archaeological site of Tal Hasaka in Syria dates back to the Early Christian Era.

According to the Syrian Arab News Agency, the church sits south of a cathedral found during earlier excavations. The church consists of basalt stones and is painted with gypsum.

Archaeologists found two chairs in the church, one placed at the northern section of the church and assumed to be belonging to a prominent religious figure. The other chair, placed at the southern side of the church, belonged to a lower ranking clergyman, according to the Syrian Arab News Agency.

The site of Tal Hasaka, meaning “hill,” is located in the northeastern city of Hasaka, near Syria’s border with Turkey.

The church and cemetery were found during the fourth excavation season at the site, and the cemetery is a continuation of the religious compound found during an earlier excavation mission. 

The site also contains a 5th century cathedral and surrounding religious compound, both of which were discovered in July 2010. The cathedral’s 33-foot-long layout proved extensive, with a temple, baptism room, deaconry, and a grape press.

Syria has been known for having a wealth of archaeological evidence, much of which relates to the early beginnings of Christianity. 

In Nov. 2008, archaeologists discovered what they consider to be Syria’s largest Christian church in Palmyra.

“Christianity came to Palmyra in the year 312, at a time when Christians had begun to build churches,” Director of the Palmyra museum, Walid Assad, told the BBC News.

“And this one is huge -- the biggest ever found in Syria. It dates back to the fourth or fifth centuries after Jesus Christ,” Assad added.

According to Syria’s Ministry of Tourism website, the international community has conducted several excavation projects in the Middle Eastern country, including projects in Hama, al Yadoudeh, and al Raqqa.

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