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Unholy bad luck at ancient church site.

Superstitious people avoiding black cats or walking under ladders today, may take comfort in the discovery of what appears to be the world's unluckiest church by a Midland archaeologist.

Located on a precarious cliff in Turkey, it was hit by two earthquakes, a flood and a landslide - all while it was still being built. And the church then eventually became a hang out for medieval drug users, before finally being washed away by the sea.

Dr Stephen Hill, from the University of Warwick, who discovered the church, claimed it was sited where Christian hermit St Phocas was martyred by Roman soldiers during the fourth century. 'It is quite a tale of woe,' he said.

'The problem is they had to build the church where the poor guy was martyred and it wasn't a very good place to put a building. 'No one in their right mind would have put a church there.'

Dr Hill was asked to investigate after a large mosaic was found on a clifftop at the Turkish city of Sinop, on the shores of the Black Sea.

He set up an archaeological dig and soon uncovered not just a mosaic, but a large, previously unknown church.

Research showed disaster number one happened during an earthquake which happens about every 500 years, then, not long after the church was rebuilt, a flood hit the site as workers attempted to finish the mosaic.

A landslide, which shifted the building to its present location, struck next and the clergy decided it was time to call it a day and abandoned the site.

Poppy seeds and pipes from medieval times found in the ruins suggest the church ended up an opium den and even today, it is still bringing bad luck after cracks were found in the soil following the 2000 earthquake.
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Publication:The Birmingham Post (England)
Date:Dec 13, 2002
Words:301
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