The site of Küçükyalı, at Maltepe on the Asia side of İstanbul, is now an archaeological park. Investigations under the direction of Alessandra Ricci have shown that the large triple-apsed church with cross-in-square plan and the large (2700 cubic metres) cistern must have belonged to the Monastery of Satyros (AD 867-877) and not the Palace of Bryas (first half of the 9th century) as had been thought. The church was refurbished in the 12th century, with the addition of a “reliquary chapel” and opus sectile flooring in the apse of the church. Georadar and geoelectrical prospection, combined with topographical study of remains, indicates that the church and cistern were the nucleus of a much more extensive complex.
Byzantine monasteryThe archeological site project covers the only remaining Byzantine monastery in Istanbul and was explained by the director of Koç University Anatolian Civilizations Research Center, archeologist Alessandra Ricci.
Ricci said she started surface research around the Küçükyalı Çınar Camii neighborhood in 1995, and she has been working on the excavation project in cooperation with Istanbul Archeology Museum since 2007.
The site was discovered 150 ago by German archeologists, Ricci said. “Since urbanization in the 1980s, this area was filled with buildings. Çınar Mosque, built in 1988 is one of them,” she said. During the research and excavations the group of archeologists found an ancient piece belonging to a church. The research revealed that it was built between the years 860 and 877.
Ricci said that they found the cistern in 2002 and started rehabilitation work only after they informed the eight young people who lived there.
Declared a greenfield by the Maltepe Municipality in 2001 the cleaning of the cistern inside the site was supported by the municipality. With the allowance of the Tourism and Culture Ministry, iron gates were installed to protect the area.
Ricci said they opened the excavation site to the neighborhoods’ residents to organize cultural events to raise awareness. She said they shared the findings with them by opening exhibitions.