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Adelaide scholars in joint dig at Colossae

Archaeologists and bible researchers and Christians and Muslims are coming together as part of a project to dig up the riches of the past at the ancient site of Colossae in Southern Turkey.

Fr Michael Trainor (pictured), a lecturer at the Adelaide College of Divinity, said he and Flinders University lecturer Dr Claire Smith have been working on a cross-cultural project for five years.

Lecturers from the Adelaide College of Divinity and Flinders University are seeking to work with Turkish people living near the site which has not yet been archeologically researched.

Mr Ismail Iylikci, a former provincial governor in Turkey and now a local civic leader, trade negotiator and environmentalist is currently in Adelaide to discuss this project. He has met SA's Governor Marjorie Jackson-Nelson, Lord Mayor Michael Harbison and Salisbury Mayor Tony Zappia and will address the Rotary Club of Adelaide during his stay.

"We're seeking to work with local people near the ancient site of Colossae to understand and interpret the internationally significant site," Fr Trainor said.

He said the project would allow for Christian theology and biblical scholarship to be considered within a Muslim context in understanding the society of the inhabitants of Colossae, which is now called Honaz.

The inhabitants of Colossae were victims of a form of Christian colonialism that pervaded the Middle East from the 11th century when military campaigns were organised to annihilate Muslim powers.

"It's an important project in that it will also enable the local community to understand its history and develop its own story associated with Colossae," he said.

"The local community will be involved in the project design, and the development of a strategic cultural heritage management plan that could bring increased tourism and a deepened sense of cultural pride in the history of the region."

"The project also offers the opportunity to study the site through the method of biblical interpretation and scholarship on the early Christian letter to the Colossians in particular.

"It will forge strong links between researchers in both Australia and Turkey as well as Christian and Muslim communities, as well as offer innovative opportunities for the redefinition of conventional approaches to the study of an archaeological site."

Un-earthing riches of the past (Catholic Communications Adelaide 11/3/04)

Unearthing Ancient Colossae in Southern Turkey: theology and archaeology in dialogue (Compass Review Summer 2002)
University of Adelaide Humanities Research
Turkey Ministry of Culture: Colossae

12 Mar 2004