Researchers set to discover Istanbul’s lost island


Vordonosi, dating from Byzantine times, reportedly sank 1,000 years ago due to a massive earthquake

By Burcu Arik

ISTANBUL – A team of Turkish archeologists are to dig deep to unearth a lost underwater island off the coast of Istanbul.

Vordonosi was an island in Byzantine times, but is now underneath Turkey’s Marmara Sea.

According to Maltepe Municipality, researchers and divers from three Turkish universities are set to re-discover the island which is 700 meters off from the Maltepe shore on Istanbul’s Asian side.

Local mayor Ali Kilic said in a statement: “Vordonosi Island is to be brought to light after 1,000 years by a research team from Istanbul University, Bursa Uludag University and Duzce University with the support of Maltepe Municipality.”

Vordonosi [small island] is known as the tenth of the present-day Princes Islands of Buyukada, Heybeliada, Burgaz, Kinali, Sedef, Tavsan, Kasik, Sivri and Yassi.

The island reportedly hosted a Byzantine monastery built by Patriarch Photios I who was sent into exile there between 858-886 CE.

According to Turkish local media, the island was shown on old Byzantine maps and was photographed by an exploration team in 2015.

According to Kilic, the monastery was built 1,200 years ago but was buried beneath the waves in a massive earthquake in 1010.

“We aim to see the historic sunken island included on the UNESCO World Heritage List,” Kilic said.

“The island will be discovered in all its aspects with the help of this research and then we will present a study to Istanbul Metropolitan Municipality, the Culture Ministry and UNESCO.

“The next step will be opening the island to tourism,” the mayor added.

Turkey has also recently witnessed the discovery of the Arginusae islands, now called the Garip islands, in the Aegean Sea.

According to National Geographic, the peninsula was once an island and an ancient site of an epic sea battle between the Athenians and the Spartans nearly 2,400 years ago.