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30 October 2001

Sensational archaeological discovery

Researchers discover Pepouza, the "Mecca" of the Montanists - The "new Jerusalem" of the early Christians finally located after centuries of speculation

Foto : Prof. Lampe

An international team of scholars has finally ended centuries of guesswork concerning the location of Pepouza, the long-lost centre of the early Christian prophetic movement known as Montanism. The Montanists were early predecessors of the charismatic version of Christianity, which today is growing rapidly, especially in Third World countries

The Montanist Christians, who lived between the second and sixth centuries AD, spread rapidly from Asia Minor (Turkey) to all other parts of the Roman empire. But their administrative centre and most holy site was Pepouza, where they believed the "New Jerusalem" would descend from heaven as prophesied in Revelation, the last book of the Christian Bible.

Foto : Prof. Lampe

The Montanist movement was denounced by mainstream early Christian leaders as being heretical. The main reasons were the ecstatic prophetic style of its founders, the prominent role played by women and the suspicion that Montanism had been influenced by the cult of the Phrygian mother goddess, Cybele. Though it endured for almost four hundred years, Montanism was finally put an end to in 550 AD, when imperial soldiers destroyed the shrine in Pepouza containing the bones of the founders of the movement. They also confiscated all the remaining Montanist buildings there, including a monastery.

Foto : Prof. Lampe

Announcing this archaeological sensation, Professor Peter Lampe of the University of Heidelberg said, "This discovery is like finding a new Shakespeare play."

Lampe, Dr. William Tabbernee (Tulsa, Oklahoma, USA) and their team located the previously unknown site in a remote area of Turkey, south of Usak. The group used ancient Montanist documents for their search and was supported by the director of the Usak Archaeological Museum, Mr. Kazim Akbiyikoglu. With the permission of the government in Ankara, Dr. Peter Lampe of the University of Heidelberg embarked on an intensive archaeological surface survey of this historically important area. The survey will be continued next year.

Foto : Prof. Lampe

Says Dr. Tabbernee, "Key to our discovery was locating the monastery near where the city of Pepouza had once stood." Tabbernee, an internationally recognized authority on the Montanists, said, "As we drew closer, we found numerous tombs and other evidence of a sizeable city. We tramped through the river flats in a canyon, and scrambled up a steep slope, finally reaching the large rock-carved monastery used originally by the Montanists and later by Byzantine Christians."

Prof. Lampe
Prof. Lampe

"As we stood on the cliff near the monastery and looked across the landscape," Lampe continued, "we could identify other landmarks that fitted perfectly with the ancient descriptions. We knew this was Pepouza!"

Prof. Tabbernee
Prof. Tabbernee

The discovery team also included Prof. Ayse Calik-Ross (Anadolu University, Eskisehir, Turkey), Prof. Robert Jewett (University of Heidelberg, Germany), David Killen (Conifer, Colorado, U. S. A.), Richard Engle (Sioux City, Iowa, U. S. A.), Hüsam Suleymangil (Istanbul, Turkey), Dr. Richard Petrovszky (Speyer, Germany) and Henning Hupe (Heidelberg, Germany).

5 photographs can be downloaded for publication from :
Pictures 1 and 2 show the rock-carved monastery, pic 3 a cross graffito in this monastery, pic 4 the valley of the Pepouza site, pics 5 and 6 Prof. Peter Lampe and Prof. William Tabbernee.

Please address any inquiries to:
Prof. Dr. Peter Lampe
University of Heidelberg
Kisselgasse 1, D- 69117 Heidelberg, Germany
phone: +49 - 6221 - 543319
or +49 - 6221 - 543311
or +49 - 6223 - 2927
fax: +49 - 6221 - 543509,
e-mail: or

Prof. Dr. William Tabbernee, President
Phillips Theological Seminary,
4242 S. Sheridan Road, Tulsa, OK, 74145-1119, U.S.A.
phone: + 918-610-8303, fax: + 918-610-8404

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Updated: 02.11.2001


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