2015 Archaeology and Research on Christianity

Cappadocian Underground City from the article by Jennifer Pinkowski, National Geographic, March 26, 2015

Acra Discovered in Jerusalem

Antiochus IV Epiphanes built the Acra citadel during the time between the testaments (Acra is a Greek term meaning “highest point.”) The Romans likely buried the remains of the citadel when they destroyed Jerusalem in AD 70. The Israel Antiquities Authorities announced the rediscovery of the citadel under a Jerusalem parking lot (MSN, November 3, 2015).

Ancient Greek Shipwrecks

Marine archaeologists discovered twenty-two shipwrecks in a seventeen square mile area around the Fourni Archipelago, which is in the eastern Aegean Sea (Nick Romeo, National Geographic, November 3, 2015). Twelve of the twenty-two wrecks date from the late Roman period (300–600 AD) when Christianity was ascendant or dominant in the Roman Empire. Excavations should yield new information about life in those times and perhaps also matters of faith.

Cappadocian Underground City

Nevehir University geophysicists surveyed the caverns of an underground city in Cappadocia, Turkey. Workmen discovered entrances to the city in 2013 but archaeologists continue to work their way into the depths of the tunnel network, which may go down more than 370 feet into the earth. The recently discovered city may even be larger than the famous Derinkuyu city in the same region, which could house 20,000 people (Jennifer Pinkowski, National Geographic, March 26, 2015). Byzantine Christians created the city for protection against Muslim invaders who reached the region in the late eighth century.

Holigost Ship of Henry V

Historian Ian Friel discovered the wreck of a ship while studying an aerial photograph of the Hampshire River in England (BBC, October 12, 2015). He identifies the wreck as the Holigost, one of four war ships commissioned by Henry V (1387–1422). By naming the ship after the third person of the Holy Trinity, the medieval Englishmen illustrated how fully the Christian faith was integrated into medieval life and their understanding of war.

Jamestown Church Reconstruction

The remains of four Jamestown men were discovered in 2010 buried beneath the chancel of the oldest discovered church in a North American English colony. Records indicate the church was built in 1608. Analysis has now identified the remains of Rev. Robert Hunt, the first chaplain of the Jamestown colony (Kristin Romey, National Geographic, December 28, 2015). Archaeologists are currently rebuilding the historic structure (Newser, April 29, 2015).

King James Book Draft Discovered

In fall of 2014, Jeffrey Alan Miller of Montclair State University was searching the archives at Sidney Sussex College in Cambridge, England, when he found a notebook labelled as a biblical commentary (Beatrice Gitau, Christian Science Monitor, October 15, 2015). After considerable study, Miller has concluded that the notebook is actually the earliest known draft of the King James Bible first published in 1611. The notebook shows how contributors worked on the famous and most influential English translation of the Bible.

London Cemetery

In order to make way for a rail line, archaeologists in London began excavating the Bedlam cemetery in London, which holds some 3,000 burials (Suzanne Plunkett, Reuters, March 10, 2015). Among those buried are persons who died from plague during the Reformation Era and Levellers from the English Civil War, who urged religious toleration. Archaeologists will study their remains.

Remains of Miguel de Cervantes

The famous author of Don Quixote was buried in the Convent of the Barefoot Trinitarians in Madrid according to Fernando de Prado and Francisco Etexberria (Rowena Lindsay, Christian Science Monitor, March 17, 2015). Cervantes sought burial in the monastery since the Barefoot Trinitarians helped free his from pirates in 1575.

Vatican Archives Releases Historic Documents

Just before the 100th anniversary of the Armenian Genocide, the Vatican library released documents from its archive of the Congregation of the Eastern Churches, which includes correspondence from Vatican officials and Eastern Christian officials that describe the killing of 1.5 million Armenians by the Turks (Andrea Gagliarducci, Catholic News Agency, March 20, 2015). Vatican correspondence regarding the sinking of Lusitania (1915) was also released (Andrea Gagliarducci, Catholic News Agency, March 10, 2015). Additionally, the Vatican received a ransom demand for two documents by Michelangelo that were stolen in 1997 (Guardian, March 8, 2015). One of the documents was a letter signed by the Renaissance genius. Other details about the documents were not relased.


2015 also yielded some important discoveries in biblical archaeology. The following link will take you to the Christianity Today summary.