Do you know Çepni?
Did you ever hear of it?
If your answer is ” no ”, please go on reading our letter …
Çepni is not a country…
Çepni is not an international center …
Çepni is not a capital city …
Çepni is a small town in the Anatolian region of Turkey; in the country of Mustafa Kemal Atatürk who’s vision always has been:
“Peace at home, peace in the world.”
A little town in the middle of Anatolia… A small town which was founded by Armenians in the 8th century. In the 11th century, the Turks settled down.
For nine centuries the Armenians and the Turks lived together. They became a big family, they married, they cried and they laughed together in harmony…
In 1915 the first world war hit the little town and left a scarifying picture of blood, bitterness, orphaned children, women, Families who left their homes, despised cities and countries, millions of deaths and losses behind.
Unfortunately, this little anatolian town has been horribly affected by the first world war.
At that point, this nine-century old family was disbanded …
Our Armenian brothers left their home for good… in fear of war and in fear of death…
Some of them went to France, some to the USA, some of them moved to Canada, and some even to Argentina …
With it they left a trust, in what is left behind …
THE SURP SARKIS CHURCH
Maybe we will return to Çepni again and if we do not return, our descendants probably may come back to explore their origin… to mention the good times and moments of their ancestors… and maybe they’ll pray for us… For this it’s our mission to maintain their origin and future history…
The Surp Sarkis Church is not only a place of worship for us. It means much more to us.
It is a historical symbol of brotherhood and a real example of a peaceful life together with our Armenian brothers…
Therefore, we think that Cepni is a nine-century old idol …
For this we want to transfer this trust to future generations as we have received …
The Surp Sarkis Church and its story should not stay a territorial knowledge and monument in Çepni and Anatolia; İt should enrich the history of the world and stand as a symbol of peace and brotherhood of the cultures.
For this purpose, we want to restaurate the Church of Surp Sarkis.
OUR CONCEPT IS:
”ÇEPNI ARMENIAN SURP SARKIS CHURCH AND ETHNOGRAPHY MUSEUM”
Here people will be able to see, how peaceful and fraternal the Armenian and Cepnian people have lived together for centuries. Either, they will see their common culture, common works.
And here people will also be able to pray and to remember the people they have lost.
We completed all the bureaucratic tasks, plans and projects necessary for our concept and got permission for the restoration.
We need your financial support to continue our restauration project.
Wouldn’t you like to accept this invitation and be a part of this great work?
Wouldn’t it be great to know that your name is alive in a small town of the world?
Please accept this invitation for peace in humanity. We think that there is no limit to our brotherhood. Let us show hand-in-hand that the whole world belongs to all of us, no matter which religion, origin or culture we belong.
Wouldn’t it be great to accept this invitation for your grandchildren, to tell them a story of a monument which stands for peace and brotherhood in Anatolia?
Don’t you want to be a ” fellow countryman ” of an Anatolian township beyond borders?
I’m sure you would like to.
For this, we invite you to create an example of humanity in the country of Mustafa Kemal Atatürk whose vision had always been “Peace at Home, Peace in the World”.
Please rate our application and send it your friends to evaluate …
With our deepest respect and love.
Note: All studies related to this concept have been prepared together with the Kayseri Erciyes University. All formal proceedings have been completed, official approval has been obtained and the stage of restoration has been reached. It is an outline of the project concept which you can oversee in the following link: (Link)
In case of questions and more detailed information please contact Emsalettin Temel.
E.Temel – Marienstr. 33 – 42105 Wuppertal, Germany – E-Mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
The following paper is a summary of the project analysis carried out by the Erciyes University Kayseri It outlines the goal to create a Museum of Ethnography and how to restaurate the Surp-Sarkis-Church in Çepni – Gemerek Turkey
The Surp-Sarkis-Church is located in Çepni, a district of the Central Anatolian province of Sivas. It is an Armenian church, built around 1525 AD. The building of the church preceded the founding of the village of Çepni about 250 years ago by Armenian family clans. The church is an important historical and architectural testimony to the Armenian settlement of Central and Eastern
Anatolia. It is also one of the last testimonies of its kind due to the extensive destruction in the course of the persecution and expulsion of large parts of the Christian population from the middle of the 19th century to the end of the world war.
It also bears witness to the existence of Christian cultures in the history of Anatolia.
1.The origin of the village Çepni
The Çepnis settlement began around 1375 AD. with the decline of the Armenian Kingdom of Cilicia (1199 – 1375) by the Mamluks.
The Armenian settlers, who under the circumstances at that time were more likely to be called refugees, tried to escape the persecution in the turmoil of the Mamluk conquests. The clan of the Deli Kalpaks (“crazy Kalpaken”), under the leadership of their head Bados, set out to find a place for a new life in the distance. They followed the clans of Avedikian, Sarian and Melkonian. In a caravan they crossed the Taurus Mountains towards the north until they came to a green valley, surrounded by mountains, through which a brook flowed. After Bados declared this valley to be the new home of the clans, their heads returned to take their families to their new village. They built their first houses. Her priest Vartan built a Khoran (orthodox altar) from a table. The present church has its origin in it. Little by little, the village population increased as a result of closures between the family clans. The village they founded called them Çongaria, today’s Çepni. The Armenian settlers built their first stone church in 1525 AD.
After the fall of the Byzantine Rechen, and the long-standing rule of the Ottoman Empire, the Turks called the town of Sebastia in Sivas, the present provincial capital. The river Alys (altgrych.), Around whose banks the village of Çongaria was founded, they called Kızılırmak (the red river, because of the color of the earth of this area, which also colored the river red.) At the end of the 18th and the at the beginning of the 19th century, the first Turks came to the village and now lived peacefully with the native Armenian people, who named the village of Çepni, and the records of the registration authorities from the year 1900 show that at that time 800 families in the village and Armenian and Turkish families were to some extent equal.
Pic. 1: The church positioned in the local community of Cepni
Pic. 1: The church positioned in the local community of Cepni
Pic. 3: Surp Sarkis Church plan (top view )
The village Cepni
2. The present state of the Church
In order to gain an impression of the state of the Church, some examples of the present state of the Church are now described, in order to outline the restoration requirements as a whole.
The floor plan of the building is a rectangle divided into 3 x 3 rectangles. On the east side it ends with three vaulted apses. On the north and south sides of the apses there is another rectangular room, which widens the church building on the east side.The columns and beams, which essentially form the supporting structure of the building, are located at the connecting points of these rectangles.The data in the figures referenced refer to the documentation of the rehabilitation project, which was prepared by the Mutual Assistance Association Çepni e.V. in Wuppertal. *
The stone vaults in the interior of the church were presumably covered on the outside by a gable roof covered with stone slabs (Fig.10-18). It can be seen that the supporting walls were originally two to three brick terraces higher than in the present state. Accordingly, the roof, the roof gutters and roof projections are completely missing (Fig. 19). The missing building element on the west side, where the triangular end face and the gable roof meet, suggests that a bell or a cross has been found here before.
The single-winged iron door at the main entrance is presumably not the original door.
The floor in the interior of the building was most probably originally covered with tufts. In today’s condition, the soil consists only of soil and mud debris.
In the north and south walls, there are a total of ten window openings as well as two additional walled windows (Fig. 6, 7 – 23, 24).
On the left side of the main map is a niche, but not on the right. Since Orthodox churches are always symmetrically structured, this indicates a missing element. The domes of the apses are not covered from the outside (Fig. 32). They were presumably also originally covered with stone slabs.
The most sacred areas of the church, the altars and vestibules, are fully visible to church visitors. However, in orthodox churches these must be inseparable from the eyes of others who are not directly following their religious activities.
Pic. 4: Inside view
Pic. 5: Entrance area
Pic. 5a: İstanbul Rumelihisarı Surp Santukhd Armenian Apostalic Church
Pic. 6: Columns and windows inside view
Pic. 7: North side inside view
Pic. 8: Columns, archs and vaults
Pic. 9: Columns, archs and Vaults 2
Pic. 10: Columns, archs and vaults
Pic. 11: Chapel north side 1
Pic. 12 Chapel north side 2
Pic. 13: Chapel south side 1
Pic. 14: Chapel south side 2
Pic. 15: Chapel south side 3
Pic. 16: External view west side
Pic. 17: External view east side
Pic. 18: Beşiktaş Surp Asdvadzadzin Armenian Apostolic Church
Pic. 19: Roofing of the church
Pic. 20: External view east side
Pic. 21: Beşiktaş Surp Asdvadzadzin Armenian Apostolic Church
Pic. 22: Inside view floor
Pic 23: Entrance area south and west Side
Pic. 24: Kayseri Surp Asdvadzadzin Church
Pic. 24a: Original ground in Kayseri Surp Asdvadzadzin Church
Pic. 25: Windows south side
Pic. 26: Supporting pillar
Pic. 27: North side view with windows
Pic. 28: A niche in the north side
Pic. 29: View of the entrance area west side
Pic. 30: Apsis 1
Pİc. 31: Apsis 2
Pic. 32: Apsis and chapels entrance area north
Pic. 33: Apsis and chapels in the entrance area of the south side
Pic. 34: External view of the apsis north side
Pic. 35: Entrance of the Chapel from the North
Pic. 36: Baptismal font hall
Pic. 37: The baptismal font hall of the Istanbul Besiktas Surp Asdvadzadzin
Pic. 38: Water connection of the baptismal font
Pic. 39: Outside view north side
Pic. 40: Outside view south and east side
Pic. 41: Vaults damages
Pic. 42: View apsis 1
Pic. 43: View apsis 2
Pic. 44: View apsis 3
Pic. 45: Niche in the apsis area
Pic. 46: Apsis and Khoran
Pic. 47: View north side
Pic. 48: Stonemasonry in the inside
Pic. 49: Abrank Manastery Church Erzincan Tercan Üçpınar Village
Pic. 50: Erzincan Kemaliye Esertepe Village Armenian Horom Church apsis area
Pic. 51: Entrance door with niche
Pic. 52: İstanbul Boğaziçi Kuzguncuk Surp Krikor Lusavoric Armanien Apostle Church
Pic. 53: Markings in the entrance
Pic. 54: Stonemasonry
3. Restoration and Restitution Work
Surroundings of the church
- Elimination of the accumulations of soil and trees, whose rootwork endangers the church walls.
Neighboring buildings and drainage: The proximity of two neighboring buildings and the absence of drainage channels causes corrosion of the masonry by rainwater and moisture. For example, the roof drainage channel of the neighboring building is on the north side as well as near the church wall. The rainwater flows into the masonry. A drainage is to be remedied. Furthermore, the demolition of the neighboring buildings will be advised in the medium term, so that more air and heat will reach the masonry and moisture bridges can be avoided.
Wall and vaulted roofing by internal stone slabs
Pic. 1: Excavation area
Walls and walls
- removal and renewal of cracked and corroded masonry, which could pose a risk to the building structure.
Re-use in the interior, if possible, restoration of the original plaster
Exchange and restitution of unstable and damaged masonry stones.
removal of moss and vegetation
Desalination of masonry rock
Pic. 2: Change and pestitution
Pic. 3: Removement and renewal
Pic. 4: Sections
- The pillars on the western side already have static instabilities which are aggravated by movement and vibration, which endanger the overall structure of the church. The other pillars have not yet used any movement processes.
However, stabilization by epoxying the rock at medium column height is also to be ensured preventively.
Pic. 5: Preventive stabilization
- The vault arches have been statically stable so far, but all the chisels through which they were connected were removed. This would lead to imbalances
between the arcs in the future. Therefore, it would be necessary to re-cast and incorporate new sprockets.
- Rebuilding the vault (Fig. 6)
cleaning of the rock joints, renewal of the joint fillings (Fig. 7)
– desalination of the vaults (fig. 8) renewal of the vaults between the vaults and the masonry
Pic. 6: New construction of the vaults
Pic. 7: Cleansing of lithoclases renewal of joint fillings
Pic. 8: Desalination of vaults
- Determination and restitution of the original roof form
Increase the roof level by 1 meter
Cleaning and restoration of preserved roof parts
Design and manufacture of roof coverings
Installation and restoration of water drainage channels
Roofing Stones in the Kayseri Darsiyak Yanartaş Church
- Complete restitution of the church windows
4. Proposal for the future use of Surp-Sarkis-Church
In essence, the church could be used as a “digital museum” or “ethnographic museum”, equipped with the modern possibilities of digital communication, presentation and interaction. Both permanent exhibitions and traveling exhibitions could take place here. An attention should be paid to the history of the Armenian population and its culture, which also represents the history of the Turkish population living there. Thus, the possibility of bringing the rich cultural history of Çepnis and Central Anatolia to their present inhabitants would be a possibility.
Other possibilities of use should also be possible. It is also known that in the past the villagers were used for meetings and festivals by the village population. Since the church is an important part of the collective memory of the indigenous population, opportunities should be created for this purpose. Thus the apse could be used as a stage. In addition, visiting groups from schools and universities should also be able to hold conferences and seminars. Therefore the elements of the exhibitions should not be fixed, but should be mobile and changeable.
However, the church should offer non-Muslim visitors the opportunity to perform prayers, light candles, etc. The space north of the apse offers itself as a prayer room for these purposes.
Gegenseitige Hilfe-Verein e.V.
Wuppertal – Germany
Contact person : Mr. Temel, Emsalettin
Translated to English: Dursun Atılgan, Emine Temel