n Ekklesiastikos Pharos - Smyrna : the open door to the archaeological rediscovery of the seven churches

Volume 89, Issue 1
  • ISSN : 1018-9556



This paper explores the role Smyrna played in the rediscovery of the Seven Churches starting in the late seventeenth century. It surveys some of the key figures in the search for the Seven Churches and their writings about these voyages of discovery. The messianic movement of the Smyrna native, Sabbatai Zevi, and the millenarian interests of British Christians in the year 1666 combined to bring fresh interest in the Seven Churches. Paul Rycaut, a consul at Smyrna for the Levant Company, was a key figure in this awakening. In 1678 Rycaut published The Present State of the Greek and Armenian Churches in which he recounted his travels to the Seven Churches wherein he rediscovered the site of Thyatira. Tho. Smith also published an account of his visit in 1678 called A Survey of the Seven Churches of Asia, As they now lye in their Ruines. The volume was first released in Latin, with a translation into English soon following. Francis Arundell, who served as a chaplain in Smyrna, published A Visit to the Seven Churches Asia in 1828. In 1837 the publisher Fisher, Son & Co. sent the noted artist Thomas Allom to Asia Minor to prepare a series of sketches. The following year Constantinople and the Scenery of the Seven Churches of Asia Minor appeared, featuring with his notable gravures. The text was written by Robert Walsh, a former Protestant chaplain in Constantinople. In 1869 Alexander Svoboda provided the earliest photographic record of the sites in his Seven Churches, leaving especially vivid images of nineteenth-century Smyrna. William M. Ramsay first visited Smyrna in the 1880s, and the legacy of his pioneering work continues to resonate in Anatolian scholarship today. This essay demonstrates that the modern scientific and archaeological investigation of ancient sites in Turkey began with the rediscovery of the Seven Churches through the "open door" of Smyrna in the seventeenth century.

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