Early Medieval Church

Detail of fresco, fifth century, Nevşehir, Anatolia. Photograph Nevşehir Municipality/ Castle Urban Transformation Project.

The heartlands of Early Christianity, although difficult to imagine nowadays, were Syria, Iraq, Iran, Egypt and Turkey. The earliest depictions and iconography of the first Christian communities from the first century onwards are found in these countries. Religious disputes that are now forgotten led to numerous different Churches in this region. The ultimate separation of the Latin and Greek Church in 1054 also dragged these Churches into a conflict of loyalty and choice between the Latin Church and the Pope as increasingly powerful leader and the Greek Church, ruled by the Byzantine emperor in his capacity of highest priest of the Greek Church.

Ancient Churches and their often magnificent fresco’s can be found throughout these countries. The former Roman province of Cappadocia, Turkey, was not only the region of the three famous Cappedocian Fathers (Basil of Caesarea, Gregory of Nyssa and Gregory of Nazianzus) and the writer/bishop Eusebius (263- a. 339 AD), but also of numerous early medieval churches in caves. An excavation of a massive ancient city of around 5000 BC has revealed a new Christian church that could date to the fifth century AD, with depictions like fish falling from the hand of Jesus Christ, Jezus rising up into the sky, and bad souls being killed. (Further information: Nevşehir Municipality Turkey).