Hotel construction in Antakya, in southeastern Turkey, evolved from a normal construction project into a merged hotel-museum project when archaeologists exposed a 9,000 square foot mosaic, one of the largest intact tile-decorated floors in the world. Antakya lies above ancient Antioch and is the home of the Cave Church of St. Peter, often considered the world’s oldest church. The city played a key role in the Hellenistic, Roman, early Christian, Muslim and Crusader eras, and is considered a cradle of the early Christian religion.
Hotel builder Necmi Asfuroğlu has spent a great deal of energy preserving the extensive mosaics, the largest of which belongs to a 6th century C.E. building. The hotel will be built above what Tomothy Harrison of the University of Toronto described to NBC as an “unparalleled discovery.” Asfuroğlu is working on an ambitious project to built support columns around the mosaics, allowing hotel guests (as well as museum visitors) to view the site from common areas as well as hotel rooms. The expensive construction project preserves the site from any contact with concrete, and has been lauded by conservationists as a triumph of the promotion and preservation of human history without limiting modern construction. No photos of the finds have been released and the site has been covered until the conservation is completed; however, visiting archaeologists have returned with exciting reports about the discoveries, and archaeologists and hotel guests alike look forward to the opening of the hotel.
Read more on NBC news.