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x0x Mystery of Hagia Sophia lies in a cistern to be discovered

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    x0x Mystery of Hagia Sophia lies in a cistern to be discovered Saturday, December 31, 2005 Hagia Sophia has been a place of attraction for both domestic and
    Message 1 of 1 , Dec 30, 2005
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      x0x Mystery of Hagia Sophia lies in a cistern to be discovered

      Saturday, December 31, 2005


      Hagia Sophia has been a place of attraction for both domestic and
      foreign tourists as well as for historians and archaeologists
      throughout history. The historic building is included in UNESCO's List
      of World Heritage.

      ISTANBUL - Turkish Daily News

      A group of scientists claim that there could be a huge underground
      cistern, which is believed to exist yet still not proved, below the
      Ayasofya (Hagia Sophia) Museum in Istanbul, reported the Dogan News
      Agency.

      Hagia Sophia, which was built during the reign of Emperor Theodosius
      and turned into a church during the reign of Byzantine Emperor
      Justinian, is considered to be one of the most important historical
      wonders of Istanbul.

      In 1453, Fatih Sultan Mehmet, the Conqueror, converted the church
      into a mosque after the conquest of Istanbul. To strengthen the
      building, architect Sinan did significant work in Hagia Sophia during
      the Turkish period.

      Hagia Sophia, the legacy of both Christian and Muslim culture, was
      later opened to visitors and began to serve as a museum in line with
      the order of Mustafa Kemal Atatürk in 1935.

      Hagia Sophia has been a place of attraction for both domestic and
      foreign tourists as well as for historians and archaeologists
      throughout history. The historic building is included in UNESCO's List
      of World Heritage.

      A claim that there is a huge cistern underground Hagia Sophia, which
      has a connection with the sea, draws the attention of many people
      among those stories and legends written for Hagia Sophia.

      Art historian Semavi Eyice said that Hagia Sophia's underground
      cistern was a huge one whereas R. Van Nice, member of the Byzantine
      Institute of America, who has carried out numerous research projects
      on Hagia Sophia, indicated that he had not come across any cistern
      during his studies.

      Other archaeologists, on the other hand, initiated studies in order
      to clarify the mystery of Hagia Sophia. In this respect, underwater
      archaeologist Dr. Çigdem Özkan Aygün and underwater photographer Engin
      Aygün entered the 1,500-year-old wells of Hagia Sophia after receiving
      permission from the Culture and Tourism Ministry.

      Aygün, a lecturer at the Istanbul Technical University (ITU), said
      they aimed to examine the water and sewer systems as well as research
      the underground chambers, wells and cisterns situated in and around
      Hagia Sophia.

      We identified eight wells around Hagia Sophia and will examine all
      of them. However, some of them are too narrow which makes it
      impossible for us to enter. We have entered two wells so far, the same
      ones Van Nice found in the museum during his studies.

      Meanwhile, Engin Aygün, who carried out the first of the dives, said
      there were centuries of mud, silt and deposits on the walls of the
      well and in the well itself making it almost impossible to see
      properly. There is a mud layer on the well floor covered in broken
      glass and plates, which I assume were left over from World War I. Some
      pieces of amphorae and handles can also be easily seen in the mud
      layer. However, there was no connection to other wells or a cistern.
      At least, we couldn't observe such a thing.

      Dr. Çigdem Özkan Aygün and Engin Aygün later entered another well
      within Hagia Sophia and discovered various ceramic remains. Talking
      about his observations, Aygün said the wall of the well had been faced
      with bricks that excited some of archaeologists signifying the
      existence of an entrance.



      Two comprehensive scientific studies:

      There are underground chambers almost everywhere in Hagia Sophia.
      Dr. Çigdem Özkan Aygün said it was necessary to examine the surface
      for the wells and chambers to ascertain which ones are suitable for
      entering. In this sense, the ITU and Switzerland's Bern University
      would cooperate to examine the area using geo-radar.

      Noting that a comprehensive scientific study could not be carried
      out so far and are hoping to get permission from the Culture and
      Tourism Ministry so they can continue their research in 2006, said
      Aygün. Researchers are currently using the sketches of Grelo from the
      1600s as well as Van Nice's from the 1940s in the search for the
      cistern.

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