A Kyrgyz archaeologist believes he may have located the burial place of the Apostle Matthew.
Vladimir Ploskikh told a news briefing in Bishkek today that his team this summer uncovered on the northeastern shore of Lake Issyk-Kul what he believes are the remains of the Christian monastery that a 14th-century map indicates is the site where the Apostle Matthew was buried.
According to legends, Apostle Matthew died on his way to India and established several Christian communities during the course of his journey.
The document, which is kept in Venice and is known as the Catalan map, mentions a place named "Issicol," where it says there is "a cloister of the Armenian Brothers where the body of the Apostle and Evangelist Saint Matthew is."
Ploskikh, however, cautioned that further investigation is needed.
Four years ago, a Russian-born U.S. photographer, Sergei Melnikoff, said he had found Apostle Matthew's grave near Issyk-Kul. Kyrgyz scientists dismissed his claims.
Director Sergey Melnikoff is certain that he found the grave of one of the authors of the Gospel. Ancient legends say that Apostle Matthew died on his way to India. Archbishop of Bishkek and Central Asia Vladimir supported Sergey Melnikoff. Vladimir said that Matthew organized several new Christian communities during his journey, including on the territory of Kyrgyzstan. This journey was a hard one for an old man, he fell ill and eventually died. Specialists say that Matthew was buried on the shore of Issyk-Kul lake in one of Christian monasteries, which was inundated later.
Archeologists say that there are a lot of ancient towns on the bottom of the lake. Kyrgyz archeologists know about a dozen of drowned settlements. One of them was the town of Chigu, the capital of the powerful state of the Usuns. Usuns were the people that used to populate the entire Issyk-Kul basin.
Arabian chronicles also mention a lot about the ancient settlements in the Issyk-Kul region. Ancient Mideast travelers told many stories about the southern shore of the lake. They said that the towns of the “mountain pearl” were celebrated for their riches and a great number of people. There used to be a lot of little towns in the region in the eighth century B.C. the major one of them was the town of Barskhan.
This town was mentioned in the works of the outstanding Asian philosopher Biruni. He wrote that the residents of the Issyk-Kul town unraveled the secret receipt of the ferro-alloy, which only the Chinese used to know. However, any historic evidence of the ancient Kyrgyz cities are lost by the end of the 16th century. Scientists believe that the towns were inundated as a result of the monster earthquake. According to another version, the lake flooded those towns without any quake.
The attention to the Issyk-Kul basin is growing every year. The fame of the mountain pearl even reached the USA. IPV News USA’s success is basically explained with the so-called underwater radar that the company used in its research. This radar allows to see silt-covered objects on a computer screen. Nevertheless, the foreigner’s finding caused a negative reaction on the part of local scientists. Representatives of the Kyrgyz Academy of Sciences claimed that Sergey Melnikoff falsified his discoveries in his chase after a piece of sensation. They also accused the American team of illegal activities, since they allegedly did not have a permission for the archeological research.
Nevertheless, the works are still going on. The news about the relics of the Biblical apostle attracted attention of other international companies. A special television expedition of the world-known Discovery channel is reportedly going to visit the Kyrgyz lake.