A substantial fortified settlement atop a plateau above the main road from Mardin to Diyarbakir. In recent years archaeological excavation has been undertaken at the site.
The castle of Tsikusdziri is believed by many to be the fortified city of Petra, (not to be confused with Petra in Jordan) mentioned in late antique sources and built by the Byzantines. This identification seems to be because a better candidate has not been located. Tsikusdziri lacks the harbour a trading centre like Petra would have required. Nevertheless the association of Tsikusdziri with Petra is mostly accepted.
The fortification of Zalabiyeh is recorded by Procopius who attributes the building of the defences to Justinian's reign. As with much of Procopius' testimony this claim must not be accepted out of hand. The remains of the defences show evidence of at least two major phases of building. The oldest phase is composed of ashlar faced walls with a rubble and concrete core, the later phase is made up of ashlars throughout. The later phase appears to have been only present in some of the towers and is certainly part of a renovation of the defences where some of the older towers needing replacing. These two different wall building techniques are mirrored across the river at the fortifications of Halabiyeh, Zalabiyeh's sister site. I have proposed that the site was not originally fortified by Justinian but was rather repaired during his reign and had older origins, potentially during the reign of Anastasius.
The impressively preserved city walls of Resafa are the subject of some debate when regards to their age and to who's reign their construction can be credited to. Scholars seem to be split as to whether they were constructed in the reigns of the Emperor Anastasius (491-518 AD) or the Emperor Justinian (527-565 AD). Procopius' attributes the first stone wall to the reign of Justinian. However this cannot be wholly accepted as fact as Procopius' accounts are occasionally deliberately misleading and sometimes wholly inaccurate. The most well preserved and impressive of the gates still extant is the Sura Gate on the north side of the city.
Regardless of which reign they were constructed in the defences do seem to be Late Antique. The walls, their covered galleries, the towers and gates were well preserved when I visited in 2010. As a result of the civil war their current condition is hard to ascertain.
This building started life in the 2nd century AD as an important school of higher education known as a Museion. It was converted into a Christian Basilica in the 4th century AD and significantly modified and added to as part of the repurposing. This church was where the important Ecumenical Council of Ephesus was held in 431 AD. The church was further modified during the reign of Justinian.
Remains of the 6th century AD Basilica to St. John reportedly built upon the saints' tomb and commissioned by the Emperor Justinian. Attacks on Ephesus in the 7th and 8th centuries prompted the fortification of the area immediately surrounding the Basilica The basilica has been extensively excavated and restored since the 1920's.
The town of Bethlehem is located to the south of Jerusalem in the West Bank. Since the second century, pilgrims have flocked to the site traditionally associated as the place of Christ’s birth, a cave to the east of the town. In the fourth century, Helena, the Emperor Constantine’s mother, supposedly rediscovered the cave and had her son build a church to commemorate it. This church featured an octagonal structure at the eastern end that was positioned directly over the cave of the Nativity. At the centre of this octagon was a wide, circular opening to allow pilgrims to glimpse at the holy site. It was badly damaged during a Samaritan revolt in 529 AD and was rebuilt by the Emperor Justinian in the mid-sixth century. Much of this church has survived and is largely what is seen today. There were later modifications during the time of the Crusades, largely with the fresco painting on the nave columns. It is thus considered the oldest church in use.
Tags: Bethlehem, C12th, C2nd, C4th, C6th, Cave, Christ, Christian, Church, Column, Constantine, Corinthian, Crusades, Fresco, Geometric Motif, Holy Site, Icon, Justinian, Mosaic, Nativity, Octagonal, Pilgrimage, St. Helena, West Bank
The ancient city of Ephesus was famous in antiquity due to the presence of one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World - The Temple of Artemis - on the edge of the settlement. This influence continued in late antiquity, despite the gradual silting up of the harbour, due to St. Paul preaching at the site and the fact that in 431 a pivotal Church Council was held at the Church of the Virgin in the city. This influence continued at least into the C6th, when the Emperor Justinian set up a column on the road to the harbour.
Ephesus also has links with apocryphal Christian legends, including the story of the "Seven Sleepers" which is attached to the rock-cut cemetery north of the city and the fact that the virgin is believed to have retired to a modest home in the area.
View of Justinian's C6th aqueduct looking across from the Millet Bridge.