Burial Practices of Ancient Asia Minor

Blaundus in western Turkey reveals beautiful painted necropolis

painted Necropolis sheds light on burial practices of ancient Asia Minor

Intricate murals painted on a tomb in Blaundus.
Photo: Blaundus Archaeological Excavation Project Archive

New excavations at the site of Blaundus in western Turkey are shedding light on the burial practices of ancient Asia Minor. Blaundus was a major city during the Roman and Byzantine periods and the seat of numerous bishops during the early years of Christianity. As reported in Smithsonian Magazine, recent excavations have exposed as many as 400 rock-cut tombs dating to around 1,800 years ago. Several of the tombs contain intricate painted murals depicting vines, animals, and even Roman gods.

The earliest tombs, which date to the second century C.E., were simple chambers cut into the side of a prominent cliff face at the site. As the original chambers became overcrowded with generations of burials, additional rooms were dug further back into the cliff, creating intricate multiroom systems, with their openings covered by massive marble doors. Many of the tombs also contain large amounts of grave goods, such as jewelry, mirrors, coins, and oil lamps which were intended to help the departed on their journey in the afterlife. Evidence suggests that many of the tombs were in use until the fourth century.

Turkish Stonehenge

“Anatolia’s Stonehenge,” one of Blaundus’s many ancient monumental structures.
Photo: Klaus-Peter Simon via Wikimedia Commons.

Originally founded by one of Alexander the Great’s commanders, Blaundus was an important Hellenistic and Roman city. Today, it contains a wealth of archaeological wonders  that have only begun to be explored. In addition to the massive necropolis that sheds light on the burial practices of ancient Asia Minor, Blaundus contains many other impressive structures, including temples, a theater, a public bath, aqueducts, a stadium, and even a monumental building that has earned the nickname “Anatolia’s Stonehenge” because of its uncanny resemblance to the British monument.

Read more in Bible History Daily:

In Turkey, Underground City Thought to be World’s Largest Has Been Found

Jews in Roman Turkey

Apostle Philip’s Tomb Found in Turkey

Jordanian Oasis Reveals Ancient Burial Customs


Members, read more in the BAS Library:

Not a BAS Library or All-Access Member yet? Join today.

Why Bone Boxes?: Splendor of Herodian Jerusalem reflected in burial practices by Steven Fine

Ancient Burial Customs Preserved in Jericho Hills: Illegal bedouin digging leads to discovery of enormous cemetery in Judean wilderness by Rachel Hachlili

Excarnation: Food For Vultures: Unlocking the mysteries of Chalcolithic ossuaries by Rami Arav

Related Posts

Cropped illustration shows Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden, where God gave them the command to “be fruitful and multiply” (Genesis 1:28). Photo: From Charles Foster, The Story of the Bible (1897).
Jun 22
What Does the Bible Say About Infertility?

By: Biblical Archaeology Society Staff

Modern tefillin, painted black, being strapped to the arm. Courtesy Emil Aladjem, IAA.
Jun 21
What Color Were Ancient Tefillin?

By: Jennifer Drummond

Write a Reply or Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Write a Reply or Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Send this to a friend