The ancient city of Tyana (Nigde, in Turkey) is not finished delivering up its secrets: the former capital of the Hittite kingdom 4000 years ago, the city was colonized by the Greeks and then by the Romans, before becoming one of the cradles of nascent Christianity. This is where an octagonal church was found during excavations in progress in August 2020.
The Turkish daily The Hürriyet Daily News on August 9, 2020 reported the words of Osman Doganay, head of archaeological research. The scholar emphasizes the importance of the discovery: “There are very few examples of an octagonal-plan building in Anatolia, and never of this size anyway,” he said.
The coins found in the same place made it possible to date the church: “We had doubts about the dating of the building. But the pieces we found here confirmed that the church was built in the 4th century after Jesus Christ,” explains Osman Doganay.
Connecting central Anatolia to the Mediterranean coast and the Mesopotamian basin, Cappadocia, where the ancient city of Tyana (today Nigde) is located, naturally makes up the area of expansion of nascent Christianity.
Very early on, since the apostolic period, missions from the city of Antioch were set up there, to the point that at the end of the third century, Cappadocia could be proud of being home to the first predominantly Christian population of the Roman Empire.
The 4th century enshrines the golden age of Christianity in Cappadocia with the figures of Saints Basil of Caesarea, Gregory of Nazianzus, and Gregory of Nyssa. Under the leadership of St. Basil, many monastic communities were established in the region. At that time, St. Gregory of Nyssa wrote: “one could not find as many consecrated altars in the rest of the world” (Letter 2, 9).