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The Great Palace of Byzantium

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Archaeologists in Turkey believe they could have unearthed some of the remains of the Great Palace of the Byzantine Empire which ruled much of the known world for nearly a thousand years from the heart of Constantinople.

The dig in the Sultan Ahmet area of Istanbul has so far unearthed labyrinthine passageways and chambers with exquisite vaulted ceilings patterned with swirling red tiles which have been lying underground choked with earth and debris for centuries. One of the chamber walls is covered with a fresco of fruit clusters and geometric patterns. The red and blue colours are still vivid. Alpay Pasinli, the director of Istanbul's Museum of Archaeology, remembers the moment when the fresco began to emerge.

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