The house in southern Mersin province where a mysterious excavation had been carried out under the surveillance of an elite police unit and Turkish intelligence was marked as “Gizemli Ev” (Mysterious House) by Google’s map service.
The one-year enigmatic excavation in Mersin’s Tarsus district ended in 2017 and gave way to many conspiracy theorists in an attempt to fill in the blanks, as authorities said no important discovery was made. The presence of intense security at the tightly guarded site fueled even more rumors. The excavation followed the killing of a police officer who reportedly went undercover to expose a gang of illegal treasure hunters. An informant in the gang reportedly told police that he saw a room full of gold coins under the house.
However, the mystery was more than a room full of gold coins. Aytuğ Atıcı, a lawmaker from the Republican People's Party (CHP), claimed that the Vatican helped Turkish authorities find "St. Paul's missing bible" in the excavated area after he tried to enter the premises five times but was denied access each time. After rumors spread like wildfire especially on social media, the Vatican Embassy in Turkey had to make an announcement and deny the claim.
The excavation, which was launched on Nov. 16, 2016, ended on Nov. 3, 2017. The archeology team left the shanty. The official report said that no cultural assets had been found except one bronze coin, a piece of a broken column and several ceramic pieces.
The excavation remains a mystery for many people. On Friday, Turkish newspapers reported that Google marked the house where excavations were carried out as Mysterious House.
Tarsus is a Turkish city 27 kilometers (17 miles) east of Mersin, best known as the birthplace of Paul the Apostle, commonly known as St. Paul. It has a history of settlements dating back to the Neolithic period. The city was under Achaemenid and Seleucid rule before being annexed to the Roman province of Cilicia.
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