Secrets of sunken Kibatos Castle unraveled

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The history of Kibatos Castle, an important structure of the Byzantine period, which was discovered at a depth of about 3 meters in 2019 in the Marmara Sea, is being revealed through research.

The “Yalova Coasts Antique Harbor and Underwater Survey” has been carried out for the castle, which is known to have been built in the Byzantine period in Hersek in the Altınova district of Yalova and is believed to have ruined because of the earthquakes.

Serkan Gündüz, a member of the Bursa Uludağ University’s (BUÜ) Faculty of Arts and Sciences Underwater Archeology Department, and his team, with the support of the Turkish Historical Society and the sponsorship of the Altınova Municipality, have obtained important data regarding the castle.

Speaking to the state-run Anadolu Agency, Gündüz said that the underwater research in the region, where the North Anatolian Fault Line is effective, sheds light on earthquakes and coastal changes.

Stating that the surface surveys have revealed archaeological finds underwater at two different points along the Altınova coastline, Gündüz said, “In addition to the remains of the structure, which is believed to be a pier and a lighthouse and which Evliya Çelebi mentioned in his travel books, a group of other structures has also been discovered underwater. The pier and lighthouse, which we learn from written sources, were used from the Byzantine period to the last period of the Ottoman Empire and shed light on the importance of the region in the Ottoman period. Çelebi also writes in his book that he landed from this pier.”

Gündüz explained that another underwater cultural heritage discovered in the region is believed to be the ancient city of Limnae.

Stating that in his research, finds dating from different periods from the fourth to the 12th centuries were unearthed, Gündüz said: “Kibatos Castle is a small one built by Emperor Alexius in Nicomedia Bay. It is verified by many researchers that this castle is the Kibatos Castle built for the Saxon soldier who migrated to the Byzantine Empire after the Battle of Hastings.”

“This castle, which is called Civetot in Latin chronicles and Kibatos according to Byzantine princess Anna Komnena, has witnessed important events in history. The most important of these is the first battle that is not known much in Turkish history, but the Anatolian Seljuk State won against the Crusaders. In 1096, the Crusader Army, settled around the Civetot Castle, was defeated by the Anatolian Seljuks. After the First Crusade, a martyrdom was built here in memory of those who were martyred and was started to be used as a monastery by the Kluni sect of France,” he added.

[HH] Kibatos Castle might enter UNESCO World Heritage List

Gündüz stated that the monastery, whose walls were built and turned into a castle, was allocated to Latin knights after the invasion of Istanbul by the Latins in 1204.

Explaining that while the construction of the walls was not completed, the valuable items in the castle, which were destroyed during the sea battle between the Latins and the Byzantines, were transferred to Istanbul, Gündüz said, “Although the exact date of its sinking is not known, it is believed that it was inundated as a result of a severe earthquake on the North Anatolian Fault Line. The work to be carried out here is very important in order to reveal the connection between these ruins and Civetot Castle more clearly.”

He emphasized that this castle is of great importance for the European cultural heritage of the Klunis.

“Since 2018, the European Federation of Kluni Sites has been working hard to include the cultural and natural sites belonging to the Kluni sect in the UNESCO World Heritage List. The cultural legacy of the Kluni sect is mostly in Western Europe, such as England and France. The Kluni sect has 1,800 different centers, and its only known cultural heritage in the Balkans and Turkey is the Kibatos monastery. It is important in terms of creating a cultural bridge between Europe and Anatolia. The Kluni centers will contribute to the tourism of the region after the underwater cultural assets are registered that they belong to the Civetot monastery,” he said.

Stating that the district is home to an important cultural heritage, Altınova Mayor Metin Oral said: “We have three important castles in the region. One is Çobankale Castle, where works have been ongoing. The other is the castle in the ancient city of Helenapolis. The third castle was searched, and we found it, too. In the future, this may be a virtual museum or maybe a diving center because it is visible from the surface.”

Hurriyet Daily News

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