A Church-Form Gravestone at Silifke Museum
Keywords: Reliquary, model, Cilicia and Isauria, Silifke Museum, Taşucu, microarchitecture
A church-form gravestone has been found on the west side of the narthex of the Greek Church in Taşucu. This gravestone made of lime was registered to the Silifke Museum on December 27, 2005. Its facade bears a niche and an inscription and on the back there are three apses. The central apse is wider and higher than the other two. Via the inscription we learn that this gravestone was made for Eleutherios, son of Demetrios, who has passed away on December 16, 1891. Since the upper section of the gravestone was flattened it is hard to determine its roofing system. Stone objects with architectural forms like our example from Taşucu were frequently used in Caucasia between the seventh and seventeenth centuries. In the descriptions the model of the church was either held by the protector of the church or they were sometimes used as an acroterion at the front of the roof ridge; as a model of the church or as a reliquary. During the Early Christian-Byzantine period and later on in the Eastern and Western Christianity church-formed objects in cross-in-square plan; a basilical-plan or a dome were made of metal and have functioned as artophorions, censers, reliquary or as illuminating objects. Stone objects in church form with different functions seem to be made by the Armenians during the Early Christian-Byzantine Periods and later. Whereas after the Byzantine Period they must have been prepared by the Greeks in Anatolia. Similar gravestones which are at the north part of Anatolia; in the Trabzon Hagia Sophia and the garden of the Giresun Museum are worth mentioning. These examples bear a niche on the facade and one or three apses on their back sides. Their roofs are flat, saddle or hipped with arms in the form of Greek crosses. With dates and inscriptions written in Greek these gravestones must have been made at the end of the 19th and the beginning of 20th century and belonged to Greeks who lived in Anatolia. Besides the gravestone from Taşucu, there is yet another similar example in almost the same form cross-in-square plan at the Silifke Museum which was brought from Ulugöz Village and considered as a reliquary. The gravestone from Taşucu must have been at the grave of Eleutherios, mentioned in the inscription, probably within or in the vicinity of the church precinct. The gravestone must have been removed from its orijinal place and reused on the wall of the Greek Church dated to the second half of the 19th century. There are traces of plaster on it due to this final usage. It is hard to comment about the roofing of the gravestone yet taking into consideration the similar examples in Trabzon and Giresun we may conclude that it was either a flat or a saddle roof. This gravestone, situated at the Silifke Museum and belonging to Eleutherios, son of Demetrios, who died on December 16, 1891, differs from the various examples by domes or cross-in-square plan examples in Caucasia, by its frequently used basilical form and function in Anatolia during the 19th century Christian Architecture in the Ottoman Empire. Together with the Greek gravestones found in Trabzon and Giresun, the Taşucu tombstone can be counted as a variation introduced mainly by the Greeks.