Excavations at Hierapolis in Phrygia, Turkey (completed)

The Roman East necropolis, in which also the apostle Philip was buried, is the object of the investigations of the University of Oslo.

Look down on a valley with green parts and mountains in the back. Photo.

About the project

Excavations of selected graves will be undertaken in order to establish chronological fix-points both for the growth of the necropolis and for its reuse in later periods. The preserved skeletons will open up for a long series of studies about the ancient population, both along traditional lines on sex, age, nutrition, bone malformations, diseases, but also involving DNA- and isotope-studies. For this part of the project a collaboration has already been established with the Institute of Biology at the University of Oslo.

The field seasons of 2007 and 2008 have already brought forward some important results. Immediately to the west of the Martyrion of St. Philip lies a Byzantine burial ground, but unfortunately badly preserved. One Roman funerary building (C92) close by was opened and appeared full with skeletons lying helter-skelter. Among these appeared a Byzantine cross in bronze and 5 pilgrim badges of metal, badges identified with European pilgrimage places (Rocamadour and Noblat in France, perhaps Cologne in Germany, and Rome). The date of the badges to the early 14th century may demonstrate the longevity of the Martyrion as a cult and pilgrimage place, even at a time when the area was under full control of the Seldjuks.


Since 2007, on the invitation of the director of the Italian Archaeological Mission at Hierapolis, prof. Francesco D’Andria, the Department of Archaeology, Conservation and History, University of Oslo, has participated in the excavation of the Hellenistic-Roman-Byzantine town Hierapolis, excavations which were started by the architect Paolo Verzone of the Politecnico di Torino in 1957. At present 10 Italian and 4 international universities and research institutions are involved in the excavations and collateral research, each with their own defined project, each with their own funding.


The purpose of the project is to map all visible remains of sarcophagi and funerary monuments in an attempt to understand the “urban” lay-out of the necropolis and its social composition.


Contributors to the 2007-2008 excavation seasons:
Institutt for sammenlignende kulturforskning
Stiftelsen Thomas Fearnley, Heddy og Nils Astrup
University of Oslo (”småforsk”-fund and personal research assets)

Contributors to the 2009 excavation and succeeding study season at the Norwegian institute in Rome
Rainpower ASA
H.R. Astrup
Sigval Bergesen d.y. og hustru Nanki’s almennyttige stiftelse
University of Oslo (“småforsk”-fund)


The project is backed by Norway’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Turkish Embassy in Oslo as an important element in establishing closer cultural and academic contacts between Norway and Turkey.

Published May 6, 2010 10:46 AM - Last modified Apr. 13, 2020 10:26 AM