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  • Tags: Caves

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The Church of the Nutrition, Nazareth

A short distance from the church of the Annunciation in Nazareth is the church of the Nutrition. It was given this name as its original Late Antique church was constructed over the home and workshop of Joseph and was the place where Christ spent much of his childhood. This church incorporated grottos, cisterns and a ritual bath or baptismal font. It was used in the Crusader period, prior to its destruction by fire in the thirteenth century. The Franciscans rebuilt the current church in the twentieth century.

Type: Architecture
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Soǧmatar (also referred to as Sumatar Harabesi) was the centre of an ancient shrine to a deity known as Marilaha (Lord God). This is known from a number of C2nd AD Syriac inscriptions cut into the summit of a high rock outcrop. The approach to this ritual high place also had reliefs of the sun and moon gods cut into the rock. Nearby is a cave, referred to as the Pognon cave after the first European to record the site, with carved images of gods and a number of Syriac inscriptions that was obviously used for some kind of funerary or cult practice, A large circular building that shows some affinities with Zoroastrian 'towers of silence' completes the grouping of monuments, but the exact function of the last mentioned element has yet to be fully understood. What is clear is that this was not a permanently occupied town, but rather a holy place of pilgrimage where the faithful would gather for key festivals. These would be officiated at by priests, but whether these religious personages lived at Soǧmatar all the time or not is unclear.

Type: Inscription
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Shuayb is the name given to a ruined late antique town east of Harran. The name comes from the local association of the site with the Prophet Jethro, who is venerated in a small cave shrine (a Roman/late antique funerary chamber) in the ruins. The architectural style is close to that of the Syrian Limestone Massif to the south, but is very simple and lacks the decorative relief carvings often found further south. It is un-excavated so little is known about the site, but the remains still above ground do not include any buildings that are clearly linked to religious practice and there are no unusual monuments or distinguishing features that enable scholars to identify the ancient name of this settlement.

Type: Architecture
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Shiomghvime means 'the caves of Shio'. Shio was one of the Thirteen (As)Syrian Fathers and he is reputed to have settled in caves to the west of Mtskheta and it is here that the monastery complex need for him is located. The buildings are of many different periods, meaning that claims that one of the churches dates back to the C6th is difficult to verify.

Type: Architecture
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Rock-cut tomb chambers, Urfa

The chambers are cut out of the rock beneath the west wall of the old city and have the old city to their east and the Halepli Bahçe to their west. They have been excavated by bulldozer as a new hotel is to be constructed over the chambers and the ruins are to be incorporated into the new building.

Type: Architecture
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The well of the Prophet Job

A well and cave that are associated by local tradition with the places where the Prophet Job suffered and was then cured of a skin disease are located to the south of the old city of Urfa. The complex is called the Eyyüp Peygamber Makamı and the well head is constructed of reused Roman masonry.

Type: Architecture
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Caves viewed from Urfa Citadel

A series of man-made caves that have been excavated for use as funerary chambers and that are located to the south and west of Urfa Citadel.

Type: Architecture
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Caves north of Balikli Göl used as funerary chambers in antiquity

Type: Architecture
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