Archaeologists have discovered what may be the long-lost Great Baptistery at the largest Christian cathedral ever constructed in the ancient world. Inside that structure, emperors would have baptized their children more than 1,400 years ago. In addition to the baptistery, the archaeologists made several other discoveries at the Hagia Sophia (which means “holy wisdom”) cathedral, located in what is today Istanbul. Between 2004 and 2018, the researchers discovered previously unknown buildings, reconstructed what the cathedral’s Patriarchal Palace looked like and even identified a spot where the Byzantine emperor once stood during a ceremony, said project leaders Ken Dark and Jan Kostenec in a recently published book, “Hagia Sophia in Context: An Archaeological Reexamination of the Cathedral of Byzantine Constantinople” (Oxbow Books, 2019). [See Photos of the Discoveries at the Hagia Sophia] The cathedral has a long history. In the year 532, a series of riots resulted in a church called Hagia Sophia being burned down. In response, Justinian I (reign 527 to 565), the Byzantine emperor, ordered the construction of a massive cathedral, also to be called Hagia Sophia. Completed in 537, that structure has a dome that soars 180 feet (55 meters) above the ground. Then, in 1453, the… Read full this story
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