Colossal effort by Adelaide priest
An Adelaide priest, Fr Michael Trainor, is at the forefront of efforts to launch archaeological excavations of the ancient city of Colossae located in present day Turkey and home of the New Testament Colossians.
Writing in Adelaide's Southern Cross paper, Fr Trainor says that of all the ancient sites linked to the New Testament, there is one that has not been excavated - Colossae.
"All modern commentaries are fascinated by the many conundrums the letter throws up," Fr Trainor writes "and add that these might be solved when ancient Colossae, in southern Turkey, is eventually excavated and interpreted."
The earliest historical documents show the city of ancient Colossae, not far from the modern city of Denizli and close to the town of Honaz, was well known in the 6th Century BC. It was known into the 8th Century AD, though its significance gradually waned, Fr Trainor says.
While archaeological investigation of two other ancient sites, Laodicea and Hierapolis, has grown in recent decades, Colossae has remained untouched.
"I first visited the site about 15 years ago when leading one of the regular bible lands study tours out of the Adelaide College of Divinity," Fr Trainor said. "I wondered then about the possibility of working with others to learn more about Colossae, its archaeology, the region and the people of Honaz and Denizli."
"I was aware, too, how challenging such a project might be; geographical distance, differences in cultural and religious backgrounds, the fact Colossae did not have any obvious monumental remains, and working through the protocols of the Turkish government added to the challenge."
Since then, this project to excavate and interpret ancient Colossae has gained momentum and recognition. In 2006, the City of Salisbury recognised the work with an Australia Day award for international community service; this year came an Order of Australia.
The project is also supported financially by Flinders University.
At the initiative of the Adelaide College of Divinity the first national Colossae conference is now being planned for September, Fr Trainor concluded.
Quest to unearth ancient Colossae (Southern Cross, 1/3/07)
LINKS (not necessarily endorsed by Church Resources)
The Colossae Project (Flinders University)
Adelaide College of Divinity
Adelaide scholars in joint dig at Colossae (CathNews, 12/3/04)
1 Mar 2007