Subterranean ‘Water Tank’ Is Actually the Oldest Christian Church in Russia, Say Nuclear Physicists

Subterranean ‘Water Tank’ Is Actually the Oldest Christian Church in Russia, Say Nuclear Physicists


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The conclusion of a team of scientists testing the hypothesis of archaeologists about the use of a building in the Derbent fortress of Naryn-Kala as a Christian temple is that it is ‘most likely to be true’. If this theory is confirmed, this building is one of the oldest churches in the world.

NUST MISIS scientists together with the colleagues from P.N. Lebedev Physical Institute of the Russian Academy of Sciences of the Russian Academy of Sciences, Skobeltsyn Institute of Nuclear Physics Lomonosov Moscow State University and Dagestan State University published the first results of a "scan" obtained by the method of muon radiography of the underground space in the Derbent fortress of Naryn-Kala.

Subterranean Worship Speculations

The 12-meter building is almost completely hidden under the ground , only a fragment of a half-destroyed dome is visible above the surface. The building is located in the northwestern part of the Naryn-Kala fortress in Derbent and dates back to about 300 AD. To date, the issue of the function of the building has not been resolved, with various speculations claiming that it is a reservoir, a Christian temple , or a Zoroastrian fire temple.

If this is really a Christian temple, then we can talk about the oldest in the country - and one of the oldest Christian churches in the world.

The building was hidden for centuries after being covered with soil by Arabs after the capture of Derbent in about 700 AD.

The modern wire frame covers the building in the Naryn-Kala citadel. (© NUST MISIS/ CC BY 4.0 )

An Innovative, Non-invasive Method

It has not been possible for archaeologists to come to a consensus on the buildings function because the excavations of the temple, used for two centuries as a reservoir, could have destroyed what is a UNESCO cultural heritage site .

Therefore, to study the premises, scientists initially used the method of muon radiography, placing several innovative detectors with a nuclear emulsion inside a buried building at a depth of 10 meters (33 ft) from the surface of the earth. The research lasted from May to September 2018, with the first data obtained confirming the effectiveness of the method for the study of this specific object.

The purpose of the experiment was to find out the possibility of studying the selected archaeological object using muon radiography, determine the optimal exposure, the number, size, and location of the detectors, get the first images of the object using nuclear emulsions.

The results obtained from the muon detector made it possible to confirm the reliability of the study of the building using muon radiography and suggest a plan for a full-scale experiment to identify the contours of the building as a whole.

In addition, in the first test experiment physicists "saw" an unusual distribution of muon fluxes in the western wing of the building, which may be related to the architectural features, indistinguishable by fragments of walls located above ground.

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(a) The cross-section view of the construction, dimensions are given in mm. (b) Computer reconstruction of underground building. (© NUST MISIS/ CC BY 4.0 )

Revealing Dimensions

The construction, built of local shell-limestone, is about 11 meters (36 ft) high and extends 15 meters (49 ft) from south to north and 13.4 meters (44 ft) from west to east. Segments (or arms) of a cruciform design have a width of about 5 meters (16.4 ft), three arms of a length of about 4.2 meters (13.8 ft), and the fourth (northern) -- more than 6 meters (19.7 ft). The brackets are covered with vaults, and a dome wire frame with a diameter of 5 meters (16.4 ft) is located above the central part.

In a number of historical and reference sources, this construction is referred to as an underground water tank, as it was in the XVII -- XVIII centuries. However, the first experiment gave reason to doubt this hypothesis.

The main reasons for the interpretation of this building as originally being a religious building is its cross-shaped design and its orientation to the cardinal directions. This is very unusual for reservoirs, but common for early churches and fire temples.

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Naryn-Kala fortress was taken by Arab invasion of Derbent in 700 AD. (© NUST MISIS/ CC BY 4.0 )

According to the lead scientist of the group, Natalia Polukhina, Ph.D. in Physics and Mathematics, and NUST MISIS leading expert:

"It seems very strange to me to interpret this building as a water tank. In the same fortress of Naryn-Kala, there is an equal underground structure of 10 meters depth, and it really is a tank. This is just a rectangular building. The unusual building, in which we have put our detectors, has the shape of a cross, oriented strictly to the sides of the world, one side is 2 meters longer than the others. As the archaeologists who began excavations say, during construction, the building was entirely on the surface and it stands on the highest point of the Naryn-Kala. What is the sense to put the tank on the surface, and even on the highest mountain? It is strange. Currently, there are more questions than answers."

As the authors of the study emphasize, the characteristics of the probing radiation at this object require the subsequent irradiation of muon detectors in the area under study, and therefore, the continuation of the experiments.

The installation of detectors on the western slope of the fortress outside the walls of the building will be especially effective in order to obtain its full-size underground image.

The main result of the next stage of the experiments will be the final three-dimensional tomogram of the underground building, which will help to define the purpose of this unusual facility.


ONE OF THE OLDEST CHRISTIAN CHURCHES IN THE WORLD.

Now, thanks to the clever use of scanning technology, we might finally know what the building is. The technology known as the muon X-ray is used by researchers to track the charged subatomic particles muons, generated when cosmic rays interact with Earth’s atmosphere.

As they pass through space, nuclear emulsion plates are used as detectors to ‘catch’ the particles and develop an image of where the muons passed through, and where they were absorbed or deflected. (This same method has been used on pyramids in Egypt before.)

By using this method to meticulously scan the subterranean structure, the team arrived at a suggestion it was once a vast church. In fact, it could be the oldest church in Russia, dating from around 300 CE.

Scientists can’t excavate what lies beneath the Naryn-Kala fortress because it has UNESCO cultural heritage site status (only a small fragment of its dome is above ground). Instead, they lowered detectors into the depths of the structure and spent four months scanning the internal dimensions.

The building appears to be around 11 metres (36 feet) high, 15 metres (nearly 50 feet) from north to south, and 13.4 metres (nearly 44 feet) from east to west. The dome is located at the centre of the cruciform design.

While the site has been referred to as a water tank – and was probably used for that purpose in the 17th and 18th centuries.


Nuclear physics in search of world artifacts

NUST MISIS scientists together with the colleagues from P.N. Lebedev Physical Institute of the Russian Academy of Sciences of the Russian Academy of Sciences, Skobeltsyn Institute of Nuclear Physics Lomonosov Moscow State University and Dagestan State University have published the first results of a "scan" obtained by the method of muon radiography of the underground space in the Derbent fortress of Naryn-Kala. The preliminary conclusion of the scientists -- the hypothesis of archaeologists about the use of the building as a Christian temple is most likely to be true. If this theory is confirmed, this building is one of the oldest churches in the world.

The 12-meter building is almost completely hidden under the ground, only a fragment of a half-destroyed dome is visible above the surface. This building in the northwestern part of the Naryn-Kala fortress in Derbent dates back to about 300 A.D. To date, the issue of the function of the building has not been resolved: a reservoir, a Christian temple, or a Zoroastrian fire temple. If this is really a Christian temple, then we can talk about the oldest in the country and one of the oldest in the world Christian churches, which was covered with soil by Arabs after the capture of Derbent in about 700 A.D.

It is not possible for archaeologists to come to a consensus because the excavations of the temple, used for two centuries as a reservoir, can destroy a UNESCO cultural heritage site. Therefore, to study the premises, scientists used the method of muon radiography, placing several innovative detectors with a nuclear emulsion inside a buried building at a depth of 10 meters from the surface of the earth. The research lasted from May to September 2018, the first data obtained confirmed the effectiveness of the method for the study of this specific object.

The purpose of the experiment was to find out the possibility of studying the selected archaeological object using muon radiography, determine the optimal exposure, the number, size, and location of the detectors, get the first images of the object using nuclear emulsions. The results obtained from the muon detector made it possible to confirm the reliability of the study of the building using muon radiography (which was not obvious given the similar density of soil around the building and the shell-limestone walls) and suggest a plan for a full-scale experiment to identify the contours of the building as a whole.

In addition, already in the first test experiment, physicists "saw" an unusual distribution of muon fluxes in the western wing of the building, which may be related to the architectural features, indistinguishable by fragments of walls located above ground. The construction, built of local shell-limestone, is about 11 meters high and extends 15 meters from south to north and 13.4 meters from west to east. Segments (arm) of a cruciform design have a width of about 5 meters, three arms of a length of about 4.2 m, and the fourth (northern) -- more than 6 meters. The brackets are covered with vaults, and a dome wire frame with a diameter of 5 meters is located above the central part.

In a number of historical and reference sources, this construction is referred to as an underground water tank, as it was in the XVII -- XVIII centuries. However, the first experiment gave reason to doubt this hypothesis. The main reasons for the interpretation of this building as the original religious building were the unusual for reservoirs, but common for early churches and fire temples cross shape of the building and its orientation to the sides of the world.

"It seems very strange to me to interpret this building as a water tank. In the same fortress of Naryn-Kala, there is an equal underground structure of 10 meters depth, and it really is a tank. This is just a rectangular building. The unusual building, in which we have put our detectors, has the shape of a cross, oriented strictly to the sides of the world, one side is 2 meters longer than the others. As the archaeologists who began excavations say, during construction, the building was entirely on the surface and it stands on the highest point of the Naryn-Kala. What is the sense to put the tank on the surface, and even on the highest mountain? It is strange. Currently, there are more questions than answers," says the head of the scientific group, Ph.D. in Physics and Mathematics, NUST MISIS leading expert Natalia Polukhina.

As the authors of the study emphasize, the characteristics of the probing radiation at this object require the subsequent irradiation of muon detectors in the area under study, and therefore, the continuation of the experiments. The installation of detectors on the western slope of the fortress outside the walls of the building will be especially effective in order to obtain its full-size underground image. The main result of the next stage of the experiments will be the final three-dimensional tomogram of the underground building, which will help to define the purpose of this unusual facility.

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Nuclear Physics in Search of World Artifacts: The First 3D Images of the Oldest Christian Church in Russia Were Obtained

MOSCOW , July 11, 2019 /PRNewswire/ -- NUST MISIS scientists together with the colleagues from P.N. Lebedev Physical Institute of the Russian Academy of Sciences of the Russian Academy of Sciences, Skobeltsyn Institute of Nuclear Physics Lomonosov Moscow State University and Dagestan State University have published the first results of a "scan" obtained by the method of muon radiography of the underground space in the Derbent fortress of Naryn-Kala. The preliminary conclusion of the scientists - the hypothesis of archaeologists about the use of the building as a Christian temple is most likely to be true. If this theory is confirmed, this building is one of the oldest churches in the world.

The 12-meter building is almost completely hidden under the ground, only a fragment of a half-destroyed dome is visible above the surface. This building in the northwestern part of the Naryn-Kala fortress in Derbent dates back to about 300 A.D. To date, the issue of the function of the building has not been resolved: a reservoir, a Christian temple, or a Zoroastrian fire temple. If this is really a Christian temple, then we can talk about the oldest in the country and one of the oldest in the world Christian churches, which was covered with soil by Arabs after the capture of Derbent in about 700 A.D.

It is not possible for archaeologists to come to a consensus because the excavations of the temple, used for two centuries as a reservoir, can destroy a UNESCO cultural heritage site. Therefore, to study the premises, scientists used the method of muon radiography, placing several innovative detectors with a nuclear emulsion inside a buried building at a depth of 10 meters from the surface of the earth. The research lasted from May to September 2018 , the first data obtained confirmed the effectiveness of the method for the study of this specific object.

The purpose of the experiment was to find out the possibility of studying the selected archaeological object using muon radiography, determine the optimal exposure, the number, size, and location of the detectors, get the first images of the object using nuclear emulsions. The results obtained from the muon detector made it possible to confirm the reliability of the study of the building using muon radiography (which was not obvious given the similar density of soil around the building and the shell-limestone walls) and suggest a plan for a full-scale experiment to identify the contours of the building as a whole.

In addition, already in the first test experiment, physicists "saw" an unusual distribution of muon fluxes in the western wing of the building, which may be related to the architectural features, indistinguishable by fragments of walls located above ground. The construction, built of local shell-limestone, is about 11 meters high and extends 15 meters from south to north and 13.4 meters from west to east. Segments (arm) of a cruciform design have a width of about 5 meters, three arms of a length of about 4.2 m , and the fourth (northern) - more than 6 meters. The brackets are covered with vaults, and a dome wire frame with a diameter of 5 meters is located above the central part.

In a number of historical and reference sources, this construction is referred to as an underground water tank, as it was in the XVII - XVIII centuries. However, the first experiment gave reason to doubt this hypothesis. The main reasons for the interpretation of this building as the original religious building were the unusual for reservoirs, but common for early churches and fire temples cross shape of the building and its orientation to the sides of the world.

"It seems very strange to me to interpret this building as a water tank. In the same fortress of Naryn-Kala, there is an equal underground structure of 10 meters depth, and it really is a tank. This is just a rectangular building. The unusual building, in which we have put our detectors, has the shape of a cross, oriented strictly to the sides of the world, one side is 2 meters longer than the others. As the archaeologists who began excavations say, during construction, the building was entirely on the surface and it stands on the highest point of the Naryn-Kala. What is the sense to put the tank on the surface, and even on the highest mountain? It is strange. Currently, there are more questions than answers," says the head of the scientific group, Ph.D. in Physics and Mathematics, NUST MISIS leading expert Natalia Polukhina .

As the authors of the study emphasize, the characteristics of the probing radiation at this object require the subsequent irradiation of muon detectors in the area under study, and therefore, the continuation of the experiments. The installation of detectors on the western slope of the fortress outside the walls of the building will be especially effective in order to obtain its full-size underground image. The main result of the next stage of the experiments will be the final three-dimensional tomogram of the underground building, which will help to define the purpose of this unusual facility.


History making discovery found in the ancient Russian city, Derbent

Buried underneath a 5000 year old city on the Caspian Sea coast, a discovery has been made that scientists say could be history-making.

Take a look at some of the most interesting abandoned locations from around the world.

Take a look at some of the most interesting abandoned locations from around the world.

View from the top of the mystery building in Naryn-Kala. Picture: NUST MISIS Source:Supplied

Inside an ancient Russian City, the World Heritage site of Durban on the Caspian Sea’s coast has been hiding a mysterious building.

Scientists may have discovered one of the oldest Christian churches in the world by using muon radiography to scan a subterranean building buried deep in the ancient Russian city.

Archaeologists have long wondered exactly the purpose the building served and one hypothesis is that it was some type of temple. Other possible theories for the building’s function: a reservoir or a Zoroastrian fire temple.

The 11-metre high building, located in the northwest sector of the medieval fortress of Naryn-Kala, is almost completely hidden underground and built of locally sourced shell limestone it dates to about 300 A.D.

Excavating could endanger the UNESCO site, so archaeologists have not been able to fully access the structure.

Instead, researchers from the Russian Academy of Sciences, Skobeltsyn Institute of Nuclear Physics, Lomonosov Moscow State University, and Dagestan State University harnessed a non-invasive technique — muon radiography — to produce an image of the buried building.

If they can fully understand its structure, perhaps they could determine its use.

View from the top of the mystery building in Naryn-Kala. Picture: NUST MISIS Source:Supplied

The results showed that the building is in the shape of a cross, furthering the belief that it could be a church. The space was found to be 11 metres high, 15 metres long and 13 metres wide.

“It seems very strange to me to interpret this building as a water tank. In the same fortress of Naryn-Kala, there is an equal underground structure of 10 meters depth, and it really is a tank,” Natalia Polukhina, head of the scientific group and the study’s author, said in a statement.

“This is just a rectangular building. The unusual building, in which we have put our detectors, has the shape of a cross, oriented strictly to the sides of the world, one side is 2 meters longer than the others.

3D-model of the underground room, obtained from the results of muon detection. Picture: NUST MISIS Source:Supplied

𠇊s the archaeologists who began excavations say, during construction, the building was entirely on the surface and it stands on the highest point of the Naryn-Kala.

“What is the sense to put the tank on the surface, and even on the highest mountain? It is strange. Currently, there are more questions than answers,” she added.

The study’s authors also emphasise that more muon detectors will need to be installed, in particular on the western slope of the fortress, in order to obtain a full-size underground picture.

Their work was published in the journal Applied Sciences.

This article originally appeared on Fox News and has been republished with permission.


Subterranean ‘Water Tank’ Is Actually the Oldest Christian Church in Russia, Say Nuclear Physicists - History

By Stuart Littlewood

Nineteen years ago, throughout April and into May, the lunatic Israeli regime laid murderous siege to the Church of the Nativity

In 2002 a young girl from a refugee camp triggered events that led to a 40-day siege of the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem. This is probably the oldest Christian church in the world, built by Constantine the Great and dating from AD330. A member of the girl’s family had been killed by Israeli occupation troops. Grief-stricken, she took revenge by turning herself into a suicide bomber.

The Israelis’ over-the-top response was to send 250 tanks and armoured personnel carriers, F-16 fighter jets, Apache gunships and hundreds of soldiers into West Bank towns like Nablus, Jenin and Bethlehem late at night. In Bethlehem they cut the electricity supply and invaded the old township with helicopter gunships and occupied all key points around Manger Square. Many innocent Palestinians were killed by shelling and army snipers, and the market and some shops were set on fire as troops tried to hunt down suspected “fighters’. Civilians tried desperately to hide from the troops and a large number of people took refuge or arrived for other reasons at the Church and found themselves trapped, unable to leave.

I interviewed one of the survivors, who recalled:

248 took refuge there. They included one Islamic Jihad, 28 Hamas, 50 to 60 Al-Aqsa Martyrs. The remainder were ordinary townsfolk and included 100 uniformed Palestinian Authority workers, also 26 children and eight to10 women and girls. The Israeli soldiers would not allow them to leave, but they escaped in the first week by a back door.

Priests and nuns – Armenian, Greek and Catholic – from the adjoining monasteries brought the number to over 300 at the beginning. “Some of them went back to the monasteries but some stayed with us every day for the 40 days,” the survivor said.

‘Armchair slaughter’

The Vatican was outraged. The Greek Orthodox Church of Jerusalem called on Christians worldwide to make the upcoming Sunday a “solidarity day” for the people in the Church and the Church itself, and urged immediate intervention to stop what it called the “inhuman measures against the people and the stone of the Church”.

The Israelis set up cranes on which were mounted robotic machine-guns under video control. According to eye-witnesses, eight defenders, including the bell-ringer, were murdered, some by the armchair button-pushers playing with their video joysticks and some by regular snipers.

From the start, said my survivor, the Israeli troops used psychological warfare methods – for example, disorienting noise to deprive them of sleep, bright lights and concussion grenades. They paraded the families of the besieged in front of the Church to pressure them to surrender. They also used illegal dum-dum bullets which cause horrendous wounds and trauma. “Most of those who were killed… it was because of the dum-dums… so much bleeding, and it took so long to arrange to send them to a hospital.”

He said the soldiers fired tracer rounds into two of the monasteries and set the ancient fabric of the buildings alight.

Fifteen days into the siege those inside managed to recharge their cellphones using the mains that supplied the Church towers and call for help. The Israelis had overlooked the fact that this was a separate electricity supply coming from the Bethlehem municipality. Friends responded by sending food to the medical centre. From there it went by ambulance, along with authentic casualties, and was delivered to houses near the Church. At night young girls carried the food in plastic bags from house to house until supplies reached the dwellings next-door to the Church. The bags were then thrown from roof to roof. This went on for six days until one girl dropped a bag, which the soldiers found. The Israelis, now alerted, shot and paralysed another young man. It put an end to the food operation.

“Inside the Church we vowed not to harm the soldiers unless they actually broke in. When soldiers did gain access and killed one of the resisters, four of them were shot.”

Those trapped inside the Church were surprised to discover an old lady living within the complex. She had a small horde of olives and wheat, with which they made bread. So they managed to eke out the food for 28 days.

The governor of Bethlehem and the director of the Catholic Society were among those holding out in the Church. According to my survivor’s first-hand account, those inside opened the door only if someone died or was injured. He recalled watching through a peephole and seeing people approaching across the forecourt. “They were from the Peace Movement, 28 of them. By now the world media were watching. Seventeen were arrested but 11 took a big risk, managing to bluff their way in and bringing food in their rucksacks, which lasted another four days, and basic medicines.

The worst time, he said, was the final week – no food and only dirty water from the well. They resorted to boiling leaves and old chicken legs into a soup. He ate only lemons and salt for five or six days. “Many were so ill by this time that they were passing blood.”

Outside some 15 civilians had been indiscriminately shot in the street or in their homes. The Israelis refused to allow the dead in the Church to be removed for decent burial. “In the end, the governor decided it was better to be in jail than die. So we opened the door and surrendered on the 40th day. One hundred and forty eight had survived. We were promptly arrested and interrogated.

America and the European Union get their hands dirty

“Thirteen were exiled to the EU, 26 were exiled to Gaza, 26 were wounded, 26 had surrendered because they were under-age. Eight were killed inside the Church, and with Samir (the bellringer) makes nine. They shot Samir in front of the Church as he came out to surrender.” According to some reports, those exiled were not even allowed to say goodbye to their loved ones before being packed off. I hear they were not even allowed to work or receive visits from their families.

The rest were sent home, including my survivor. “The Israelis said to me, ‘Do you know why you are going home? Because America wants it’.” The whole disgraceful episode would no doubt have ended in more carnage if the world’s media hadn’t tuned in and 10 international activists, including members of the International Solidarity Movement, hadn’t managed to enter the Church. The adverse publicity had prodded the CIA and EU into taking a hand in deciding the fate of the survivors.

What exactly were they guilty of? Some may have been Palestinian gunmen but the last time I checked it was perfectly OK to put up armed resistance against an illegal military occupation. Israel’s gunmen happen to wear uniform and are equipped with the best weaponry American tax dollars can buy. They are fond of saying, “We have a right to defend ourselves.” So do the Palestinians. Obviously.

So why did America and the EU lend themselves to this shameful act of exiling, thereby helping boost Israel’s ongoing programme of ethnic cleansing of the West Bank?

The Israeli press were soon issuing their usual distortions and telling readers that “the terrorists took shelter in the famous church, and used about 40 priests and nuns as a shield, knowing Israel would not take a chance on inadvertently hurting priests and nuns”. In reality, for Israel’s gunslingers it had been open season on bellringers and other innocents.

And does anyone know if those exiled – for whatever mysterious reason – have been allowed home in the 19 years years since Israel’s sick-minded outrage against this most famous of Christian churches?


Russian nuclear physicists might have just found one of the oldest churches in the world

Nuclear physicists in Russia may have just detected one of the oldest Christian churches in the world after using muon radiography to scan a subterranean building located in the medieval fortress of Naryn-Kala, in the ancient city of Derbent.

To find out what the building was used for, researchers from Russian Academy of Sciences, Skobeltsyn Institute of Nuclear Physics Lomonosov Moscow State University, and Dagestan State University used a non-invasive technique to create a picture of the buried building.

The team placed several detectors inside the building and used nuclear emulsions to create the first images of it.

Extended Summary | FAQ | Feedback | Top keywords: building #1 used #2 foot #3 tank #4 Nuclear #5


Tragedies of Christians Living Under Rule of Islamic State

Mohammed Abdullatif Published on May 3, 2016

Christian refugees from Mosul who now live in camps in Iraq hold a prayer session for the thousands of fellow Christians who have had to flee Mosul from Islamic State in August 2014. Photo Gail Orenstein/NurPhoto.

After the “Islamic State” in June 2014 took control of large swaths of northern Iraq and Mosul, 450 kilometers north of the capital Baghdad and the second largest city in Iraq, the radical group destroyed the oldest Christian monastery in Mesopotamia, the St. Elijah Monastery, which is older than 1,400 years and was built by the Chaldean Catholic. This was not the first time the extremist group destroyed a monastery. It previously committed similar acts and destroyed a number of ancient buildings that belong to both Christians and non-Christians, because these buildings violate their interpretation of Islam. The European Union Mission to Iraq had announced that IS militants, after the occupation of Mosul, burned several churches in the city.

The Christian community in Iraq and in Mosul in particular, is one of the oldest Christian communities, dating back to the early stages of Christianity. Christians and their civilization in Mesopotamia were subject to killing, destruction and displacement throughout history. The tragedy of Christians, whose numbers before the fall of Saddam Hussein and his Ba’athist regime were more than 1.5 million according to figures from Hammurabi Human Rights Organization, began in 2003 and reached a peak when Islamic State captured Mosul.

Kamil Zuzu, leader of the Chaldean Syriac Assyrian People’s Council, announced in his speech to the European Union in 2013 that the number of Christians in Iraq is estimated to be 300,000 only. He stressed that this drop in the number of Christians is the outcome of organized operations in Iraq against the Christian minority.

The latest chapter of the suffering of Christians in Iraq concluded with IS entering the Governorate of Ninawa in early June 2014 and launching attacks on Mosul. With the passage of days and the collapse of the Iraqi army following IS’ successive attacks, the group captured the city of Mosul and most of the areas of the Ninawa Governorate on 10 June 2014. Abu-Bakr al-Baghdadi, the leader of IS announced the establishment of the Islamic State and proclaimed himself to be a caliph on 4 July 2014.

In a statement distributed in Mosul, IS gave Christians the choice to either convert to Islam or be given protection in return for paying jizyah [a type of tax paid by non-Muslims). If they refuse to accept either option they would be beheaded. In the same statement Christians were invited to attend a meeting to discuss their situation, which they refused. Subsequently, IS issued a statement on Friday 18 July, 2014 ordering the Christians “who do not want to convert to Islam or pay jizyah to leave the city of Mosul and the Caliphate State by Saturday noon on their own, otherwise killing them will be the only choice.”

After the statement issued by al-Baghdadi, a mass exodus of Christians started from the city of Mosul and surrounding villages towards safe areas in the Kurdistan Region. IS did not allow Christian families to take any personal property with them, and erected barriers and confiscated all items carried by the Christian refugees. This led Mosul to become vacant of Christians. Louis Sako, patriarch of the Chaldean Catholic Church, announced that “for the first time in the history of Iraq, Mosul is now empty of Christians”. As indication of the gravity of the situation, Reverend Joseph Francis, patron of the Association of Christian Churches in Baghdad, said that what is happening in Mosul is “ethnic cleansing” and called for securing international protection for Christians .

Hostile acts by IS against Christians did not stop at the expulsion from their city, but the group’s attacks also targeted their personal property and holy places. With the start of forced migration of families and individuals, IS wrote/painted the letter “N” [English equivalent of an Arabic initial that stands for Christians] on the walls of any real estate owned by Christian families, and announced them Islamic State property. According to some reports, IS distributed this property to its members and put others on auction.

IS militants also attacked Christian holy places such as capturing the premise of the Assyrian Orthodox Archdiocese of Mosul, and removing the cross from St. Ephraim Cathedral in late June 2014. IS gunmen also stormed a Chaldean church in Al-Shifa neighborhood, demolished the statue of the Virgin Mary and the church clock, and bulldozed a Christian cemetery in July of the same year. In addition, IS militants blew up St. George Church and the nunnery located in the Arab neighborhood in Mosul on November 24, 2014. The Associated Press, through use of satellite images revealed this in 2016, with the destruction estimated to have taken place between 27 August and 28 September 2014. The extremist group also destroyed St. Elijah Monastery, the oldest Christian monastery in Mesopotamia, which belongs to the Chaldean Catholic and its construction dates back to more than 1,400 years .

In a report issued by the United Nations in cooperation with the United Nations Mission in Iraq (UNAMI) and the office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (UNHCR), stressed that the practices of IS against religious and ethnic minorities, including Christians, is “a systematic and large scale policy” that aims to repress and expel minorities permanently, as IS is depriving them of their basic rights and deliberately subjecting them to all kinds of abuses in blatant contravention of the international humanitarian law and human rights laws.”

Another sign of IS policies of displacement and religious cleansing in the areas under its control was the announcement made by Raad Jalil Kajaji, head of the Endowments of The Christians, Ezidian & Sabian Mandaean Religions Divan, that IS forces bombed the small town of Qaraqush, leading to the displacement of thousands of Christians late July 2014. IS forces also denied basic services of water and electricity to villages Tall Kayf, Barqalah, Bashiqa, and Sinjar, forcing the residents of these areas to flee as well.

Impact of IS Practices on Christian Minority

Islamic State’s occupation and tight measures have had a major impact on the Christian minority and their lives. With the exodus of Christian families from the territory of the Islamic State in the Ninawa Governorate and them moving to the Kurdistan region, these families have lost property and livelihood. This has also affected the social fabric of Christians, because some of them live in camps in the region or live in buildings that are still under construction, whereas others have immigrated to European countries. Also, (Christian) students suffered many problems in terms of the academic levels and living standards. Students faced “educational and administrative obstacles beyond their control” and were affected by “high prices of needs in the Kurdistan region compared to the living standards in their original areas,” according to the bi-annual report issued by Hammurabi Human Rights Organization in 2015 on violations against several Iraqi minorities.

Only a few families remained in Mosul for various reasons such as having an elderly or ill member of the family, and in order to avoid possible punishment proclaimed by IS, some of these claimed to have converted to Islam or they escaped to hide in different areas of the city and started to practice their religious rituals in secret.


World's Oldest Attested Christian Monastery Discovered in Egypt – Photo

The find, which is the oldest attested monastery in the entire world at over 1,600 years old, may change mankind's perception and knowledge of Christianity. Unfortunately, it will have to be reburied in sand, as the decrepit walls will not withstand the test of weather.

In a startling find during excavations at the Bahariya Oasis in the Egyptian desert, a Norwegian research team has found what appears to be the oldest dated Christian monastery in the world.

Walls and floors with Greek inscriptions were found well-preserved, which is considered a rarity since the buildings are over 1,500 years old. Using carbon dating, the crew confirmed that the numerous excavated objects, including coins, ceramics, and glass objects stem from around the year 350 AD.

The last part of the monastery was excavated in December. Among other things, well-equipped kitchens with ovens and tables were found. The researchers found holes in the ground that they believe were used to store sharp, Egyptian clay jars with wine. In the middle there is a hall with remnants of wardrobes.

"It's like breaking into someone's house. We found plates, cookware in the oven, their last meal, remnants of fish bones and animal hair, jars of grain. All this they left behind when they left the monastery, probably in the fifth or sixth century", Ghica said.

Perhaps even more surprisingly, the monks of the monastery did not live a Spartan life. The findings show that they were surrounded by very exclusive goods, such as glass from present-day Tunisia and Algeria.

Religion historian Håkon Steinar Fiane Teigen argued that the find will arouse great interest among researchers, because while a lot is known about Egyptian monasteries from written sources, spectacular archaeological discoveries remain few and far between.

"Even if we won't rewrite the story completely, we must at least make it richer", Teigen ventured.

Despite the great cultural and historical value, the monastery will never become an attraction for tourists or other researchers, the reason being that it is nearly impossible to preserve it in the open air.

"Unfortunately, parts of the monastery are vulnerable, especially the walls built in clay. Two rain showers and four years of wind will destroy the monastery. The best way to preserve it is to put the sand back. It is heartbreaking, but I have seen with my own eyes how other archaeological sites have disappeared", Ghica concluded.

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"You Are Finished!": Turkey's Growing War on Christians

When pretexts cannot be found, assailants sometimes resort to other tactics. In an apparent attempt to conceal the online presence of at least one church, for instance, authorities labeled its website "pornographic," and blocked it.

"[T]his hateful environment did not emerge out of nowhere. The seeds of this hatred are spread, beginning at primary schools, through books printed by the Ministry of National Education portraying Christians as enemies and traitors. The indoctrination continues through newspapers and television channels in line with state policies. And of course, the sermons at mosques and talk at coffee houses further stir up this hatred." — Uzay Bulut, Ahvalnews.com., March 16, 2020.

Just what, then, do so-called "radical" Muslims. regard as the "proper" treatment of Christians?

On May 8, 2020, a man tried to torch the Surp Asdvadzadzin Armenian Church in Istanbul, which had been repeatedly attacked with hate-filled graffiti, among other desecrations. (Image source: Vmenkov/Wikimedia Commons)

Islamic terror attacks that target Christians in Turkey have been noticeably on the rise. During Christmas in 2011, for instance, a large-scale al-Qaeda plot to bomb "all the churches in Ankara" was exposed. Before Christmas 2015, ISIS issued death threats to at least 20 Protestant churches, and warned that "Koranic commandments. urge us to slay the apostate like you."

In 2017, as widely reported, a gunman dressed as Santa Claus entered a nightclub in Istanbul during New Year celebrations, and murdered 39 people. A "heroic soldier of the caliphate," the Islamic State ("ISIS") later claimed, "attacked the most famous nightclub where Christians were celebrating their pagan feast." The statement further characterized the government of Turkey as being the "servant of the cross."

In once-secular Turkey, hate for Christians has, in fact, come to permeate every segment of society — from the average Muslim citizen to the highest levels of government. The examples are many two of the most obvious — the slaughter of Christians and attacks on their churches — follow:

In 2009, a group of young Turks — including the son of a mayor — broke into a Bible publishing house in Malatya. They bound its three Christian employees, tortured them for hours, and murdered them. "We didn't do this for ourselves, but for our religion," one of the Turks accused said. "Let this be a lesson to enemies of our religion." Later, they were all released from prison on a technicality.

In 2012, an 85-year-old Armenian woman was stabbed to death in her Istanbul apartment. Lest anyone mistake the motive, her murderer carved a crucifix on her naked corpse. According to the report, that "attack marks the fifth in the past two months against elderly Armenian women (one has lost an eye)."

In 2019, an "86-year-old Greek man was found murdered in his home with his hands and feet tied" he too had reportedly been tortured.

In late 2019, a 16-year-old Muslim boy stabbed a Korean Christian evangelist in the heart several times the 41-year-old husband and father died shortly thereafter.

More common than the targeted killing of Christians are attacks related to churches.

In 2014 in Istanbul, a random gang of Muslims disrupted a baptismal church service in Istanbul. They pushed their way into the church, yelling obscenities one menacingly waved a knife at those in attendance. "It's not the first, and it won't be the last," a local Christian said.

In 2015, a Muslim man, shouting "Allahu Akbar" ("Allah is greater") and "Revenge will be taken for Al-Aqsa Mosque," hurled a Molotov cocktail at Istanbul's Aya Triada Orthodox Church, and set parts of it on fire. In a separate incident, four Turks shouting "Allahu Akbar" attacked and kicked at the door of Agape Church in the Black Sea region. According to the besieged pastor, they wanted "to go inside and hit someone or attack in some other way."

In 2015, as many as 15 churches received death threats for "denying Allah." "Perverted infidels," one threat read, "the time that we will strike your necks is soon. May Allah receive the glory and the praise." "Threats are not anything new for the Protestant community who live in this country and want to raise their children here," church leaders commented.

When a man opened fire on the Saint Maria Catholic Church in Trabzon in 2018, it was just the latest in several attacks on that church. Weeks earlier, a makeshift bomb was thrown at its garden in 2016 Muslims crying "Allahu Akbar" vandalized the church with sledgehammers in 2011 the church was targeted and threatened for its visible cross and in 2006 its priest, Andrea Santoro, was shot dead during service.

Threatening and defacing churches is especially common. In early 2019, hate-filled graffiti — including "You Are Finished!" — was found on the Armenian Church of the Holy Mother of God in Istanbul. Commenting on it, an Armenian activist tweeted, "Every year, scores of hate attacks are being carried out against churches and synagogues."

In late 2019, while shouting abuses and physical threats against Christians gathered at the Church of St. Paul in Antalya, a man said he "would take great pleasure in destroying the Christians, as he viewed them as a type of parasitism on Turkey."

Most recently, on May 8, 2020, in Istanbul, a man tried to torch a church that had been repeatedly attacked with hate-filled graffiti, among other desecrations.

Rather than threaten or attack churches, Turkish authorities have the power simply to confiscate or close them (here, here, and here, for examples). In one instance, police, similarly to the marauders mentioned above, interrupted a baptismal ceremony while raiding and subsequently shutting down an unauthorized church. "Turkey does not have a pathway for legalization of churches," the report noted.

When pretexts cannot be found, assailants sometimes resort to other tactics. In an apparent attempt to conceal the online presence of at least one church, for instance, authorities labeled its website "pornographic," and blocked it. The ban was "horrible," a church representative responded. "It's a shame. It really pains us at having this kind of accusation when we have a high moral standard."

In addition, ancient churches that predate Islam by centuries — including Stoudios monastery, the oldest Christian place of worship in Asia Minor, and founded a millennium before the Islamic conquest in the fourteenth century — are being transformed into mosques. After explaining how the Turkish government built nearly 9,000 mosques in one decade, while banning liturgy in the Sumela Monastery — another historic site inaugurated in 386, about a 1,000 years before Asia Minor became "Turkey" — a report adds, "This arbitrary ban seems to be yet another demonstration of the 'unofficial' second-class status of Christians in Turkey."

Hate for Christians in Turkey has reached the point where "infidels" are pursued even beyond the grave. Attacks on Christian cemeteries are on the rise, prompting one Christian to ask: "Is it now the turn of our deceased?"

According to a March 2020 report, 20 of 72 gravestones in just one Christian cemetery in Ankara were found destroyed. In another recent incident the desecraters broke a cross off a deceased women's grave. A few days earlier, her church burial service had been interrupted by cries of "Allahu Akbar!"

What is behind all these attacks on anything and everything Christian — people, buildings, even graves? The recent response of a journalist in Turkey was an "environment of hate":

"But this hateful environment did not emerge out of nowhere. The seeds of this hatred are spread, beginning at primary schools, through books printed by the Ministry of National Education portraying Christians as enemies and traitors. The indoctrination continues through newspapers and television channels in line with state policies. And of course, the sermons at mosques and talk at coffee houses further stir up this hatred."

In other words, Turks, once "secular," are now educated to hate Christians.

Notably, even that is not enough to prevent ISIS from accusing Turkey of being a "servant of the cross".

Just what, then, do so-called "radical" Muslims — between 63 and 287 million Muslims support ISIS in just eleven nations — regard as the "proper" treatment of Christians?

Raymond Ibrahim, author of the recent book, Sword and Scimitar, Fourteen Centuries of War between Islam and the West, is a Distinguished Senior Fellow at the Gatestone Institute, a Shillman Fellow at the David Horowitz Freedom Center, and a Judith Rosen Friedman Fellow at the Middle East Forum.

© 2021 Gatestone Institute. All rights reserved. The articles printed here do not necessarily reflect the views of the Editors or of Gatestone Institute. No part of the Gatestone website or any of its contents may be reproduced, copied or modified, without the prior written consent of Gatestone Institute.


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