Assorted Theatre Excavations in Turkey

A useful little post from Hurriyet:

During the destruction of expropriated shanty houses in the outskirts of İzmir’s Kadifekale neighborhood, the stage and some walls of an ancient Roman theater have been unearthed, Doğan News Agency has reported.

The İzmir Metropolitan Municipality has so far spent 11 million Turkish Liras for the expropriation of buildings around to unearth the ancient theater. Dozens of parcels have been expropriated to unearth the theater, which were stuck among the shanty houses.

While deconstruction continues on an area of 12,000 square meters where the theater is located, Roman artifacts have become clearer as debris is removed.

Among the artifacts are the stage and walls of an ancient theater and stones used in the construction. When the destruction is completely finished, excavations will start in 2015, according to officials.

The most comprehensive information about the ancient theater in Kadifekale can be obtained in the studies of Austrian architects and archaeologists Otto Berg and Otto Walter, who conducted studies in the region in 1917 and 1918, from their plans and drawings.

The remains of the theater, which is thought to have held a capacity of 16,000 people, has characteristics of the Roman era according to many researchers, the study reports.

Ancient resources claim Saint Polycarp from İzmir was killed in this theater during the early ages of Christianity, namely the paganism period of the Roman era, suggesting the theater has witnessed some tragic events in history.

When completed, shows and concerts will be organized in the theater just like in the Ancient Theater of Ephesus.

Ancient theater serves as graveyard

Another Roman theater in the northern province of Bartın’s district Amasra is being used as a graveyard. In the district it is possible to see many artifacts from the Hellenistic, Archaic, Byzantine, Roman, Genoese, Seljuk and Ottoman times. The ancient theater in the neighborhood of Kum began to be used as a graveyard after the 19th century.

During the Amasra-Bartın highway construction between 1970 and 1980, the walls of the ancient theater were damaged and its stones were used in pavement. The graveyard would have to be moved for the ancient theater to be explored.

Speaking to Anadolu Agency, the Amasra Museum Director Baran Aydın said they thought some parts of the ancient theater had been covered during the highway construction. A large part of the theater could be revealed if excavations are carried out in the area, he said.

“We don’t exactly know how many parts of the theater have been protected. The best protected side of the theater is its tunnel called ‘Vomitorum.’ Unfortunately, since the area is used as a graveyard, we cannot carry out archaeological excavations at the moment. If it is moved, we can start excavations. But this is a complicated process for both the municipality and the relatives of the deceased,” the director said.

Capacity of 15,000

Aydın said the ancient theater in Amasra was as large as the ancient city of Teos in İzmir’s Seferihisar.

“It was a theater that possibly held the capacity of 15,000 people in a 250-300 meter diameter. We should drill there and find the walls on the right and left, which we call ‘Analemna.’ Then we can speak about the theater,” he said, adding that excavations should be conducted in five-six points in the area.

For some previous coverage on the Izmir theatre:

Tantalizing Tunnels From Niksar

Another rather annoying item from Hurriyet:

Two secret tunnels have been discovered under Turkey’s second largest castle, in the northern province of Tokat’s Niksar district. The tunnels date back to the Roman period, and it has been claimed that one of the tunnels was used by a Roman king’s daughters in order to go to the bath in the Çanakçi stream area.

The excavations are being carried out by the municipality in the 6.2 kilometer-wide Niksar Castle, which is Turkey’s second largest castle after Diyarbakır Castle. The tunnels are located in the southern and northern facades of the castle and are approximately 100 meters long.

The earth masses in the tunnels have been removed, but work was subsequently halted as permission for the excavations expired and the number of staff was insufficient.

The 100 meter tunnel in the northern façade is said to have been used by the king’s daughters to reach the Roman bath near the castle. Niksar Mayor Duran Yadigar, who has inspected both tunnels, said works in the castle unearthed the entrance of the tunnels. “One tunnel goes to the stream below the castle. We have also excavated a parallel tunnel used by the king’s daughters. When the works are completed, the two tunnels in the south and north of the Niksar Castle will be completely unearthed. The artistic features of the castle will be revealed,” Yadigar said.

Yadigar added that once these structures are completely revealed, the castle will make a great contribution to cultural tourism in the region. “We expect the Culture and Tourism Ministry to be interested in the Niksar Castle.

A quarter of the castle’s western section has been restored. Once it is completely restored, this place could be included in the UNESCO World Heritage List, and we could present the value of the Black Sea region to the world. I ask the relevant officials to show an interest in these tunnels,” Yadigar said.
Halis Şahin of the Tokat Museum, who provided information about the excavations, said works to reveal the Roman era tunnels would continue throughout the year.

Of course, the “Roman king’s daughters” thing is a bunch of hooey … in Roman times, Niksar was called Neocaesarea and it’s one of those cities that changed ownership several times over several millennia. I’m not sure if the photo accompanying the original article is of one or the other of the tunnels in question, but I see nothing that identifies it as Roman. Curious to know why this is identified as Roman, other than the story makes for good tourist fodder …

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‘Service Corridors’ from Metropolis

From Hurriyet:

Archaeological excavations in the ancient city of Metropolis, situated in İzmir, revealed a 40-meter corridor, giving clues about life 2,000 years ago.

According to a statement by Sabancı Foundation, which supports the project together with Torbalı Municipality and the Association of Metropolis Lovers (MESEDER), a 40-meter corridor was unearthed during the excavations that have been continuing in the bathing and sports sections of the site.

The brick-vaulted corridors, which had been built parallel to the northern, western and southern walls, were discovered in a well-preserved state, revealing aspects of social life 2,000 years ago.

Archaeologists believe that these kinds of structures were used as service corridors by servants working in Roman baths. Excavations also revealed furnaces built in the same parallel with the pools of the bath.

Associate Professor Serdar Aybek, head of the excavations and the archaeology department of Celal Bayar University, said the finding unearthed from the 6,000 square-meter excavation area was a “surprise.” “It is very exciting that the structures survived to this day in such good condition,” he said.

He said it would be possible to understand all architectural structures of this structure in future excavations, adding they encountered the footprints of a man and a goat in the same excavation area. “When we saw these footprints, we imagined the days when the bath was built or restored. We think the footprints belong to a goat that entered the areas before the structure’s soil mixture dried, and a man ran after it.”

‘Value for Turkey’

The Sabancı Foundation General Director Zerrin Koyunsağan said the historic richness in Metropolis was a significant value for Turkey. She said that every year, they have been surprised with new findings and discoveries in the ancient city of Metropolis, and every finding gave answers about social life 2,000 years ago.

In the meantime, the Metropolis site efforts, which started in 2012, are continuing in parallel with the excavations. A 16,000 square-meter area was surrounded by a fence and the projects for visitor welcome center, view terraces, walking routes and the environmental reorganizations have been finished.

The ancient city of Metropolis is located 40 kilometers away from İzmir and 45 kilometers away from the world-renowned ancient city of Ephesus. The site, which bears traces of the Classical, Hellenistic, Roman, Byzantine and Ottoman periods, has been under excavation for 23 years as a part of a project jointly carried out by the Ministry of Culture and Tourism.

… similar corridors found at Hadrian’s villa were in the news this past summer: Hadrian’s Tunnels at Tivoli

Latest from Zeugma

From Hurriyet … as often, lacking some detail:

Researchers working on the ancient city of Zeugma in the southeastern province of Gaziantep have discovered new Roman-era houses, the head of the excavations has said on the occasion of the end of this year’s digging season.

“We see an architectural layer between sixth century B.C. and the second century A.D. We have reached new data about the architecture of the late ancient period,” said Hüseyin Yaman.

Yaman said works started on July 2 this year with a team of 40 people from various universities. “This year we particularly focused on conservation and restoration works,” he added.

Yaman said that Zeugma was very important to Turkey for its rich mosaic findings and that archaeological excavations also contributed to tourism, as well as scientific research.

“Zeugma contributes to tourism thanks to the findings there. Mosaics found here are being displayed at the Zeugma Mosaic Museum [in the center of Gaziantep] and have drawn a significant number of tourists. Also, the mosaics and frescoes in the excavation area are very important for boosting tourism,” he said.

Excavations on the site began in 1987.

via: Digging season ends at Zeugma (Hurriyet)

Massive Corinthian Capital from Kyzikos

Whether it’s the “world’s biggest” as touted in the Hurriyet headline is doubtful, but:

During excavations at the Temple of Kyzikos Hadrian in the northwestern province of Balıkesir’s Erdek district, the world’s biggest Corinthian-style column head was unearthed. The column head dates back to the Roman period.

The head of the excavations and Atatürk University Archaeology Department Associate Professor Nurettin Koçhan said this year’s excavations in the temple had started on Aug. 15 and would end on Oct. 8. He said the excavations were joined by a team of 30 workers as well as university members and students, adding that they were working in the western part of the temple.

He said besides architecturally decorated pieces, the excavations had unearthed the broken piece of human figures, the claw of a very big eagle and the head of a bull in temple friezes (a long narrow band of sculpture that runs along the architrave of temples).

“The Temple of Hadrian, which is equal to Didim’s Apollo and the Ephesus Artemis temples in terms of size, is different from the others with the use of gilt in women figures and red and blue colors in its decoration. Also, the column heads have so far been unearthed in pieces, but this year a column head was found in one piece. The Temple of Hadrian is 116.2 meters long. The other temples are almost the same size but in Hadrian, decorations are red and blue and the hair of the women figures are decorated with gilt.”

Koçhan said what they found this year was different and significant for the world of archaeology. “This is the Corinth column head, which is nearly 20 meters high and one of the three column heads in the temples,” he said.

Biggest temple column

“The world’s biggest temple column head was found in Balıkesir,” Koçhan added, continuing, “With 1.9 calibers and 2.50 meter height, this is biggest and the most elegant Corinth column head made within the borders of the Roman Empire. There is no other one in the Corinth style. When we compare it to the Baalbek Temple of Jupiter in Lebanon, which is regarded as the world’s biggest and the most magnificent Corinth style temple, the Temple of Kyzikos Hadrian comes ahead. This historic column head will make a great contribution to the country’s tourism.”

As often, much seems to be lost in translation with this Hurriyet piece. Here’s a photo of the capital:

DHA photo via Hurriyet

Here’s a closer view from Al Arabiya:

Sekhmet from the Red Basilica ‘Restored’

From Hurriyet:

An almost nine-meter long lion-headed Egyptian goddess Sekhmet has been revived in the Red Basilica (Kızıl Avlu) in the largest structure of the ancient city of Pergamon in İzmir’s Bergama district, and opened to visits on Sept. 26. The statue has already drawn great interest from tourists in the area.

German Excavation Institute Chairman Ferix Pilson said it would contribute to Bergama’s inclusion in the UNESO Cultural Heritage list in June next year.

The Egyptian statue pieces found during the excavations since 1930 in the Red Basilica are among the most important statues from the Roman Empire. Among them, the lion-headed goddess statue was reconstructed thanks to the support of the Studiosus Foundation. The statue was raised last year for trial purposes and with further works, and it reached an impressive height of 8.5 meters.

… the original article includes a photo, which I have to include here because this is among the worst ‘restorations’ of any statue I’ve ever seen:

DHA photo via Hurriyet

… looks more like an Australian rules goal judge than a Romanized Egyptian goddess …

Head of Aphrodite from Antiochia ad Cragnum

From a UN-L press release:

Shoveling and sweeping to expose still-hidden portions of a 1,600-square-foot marble mosaic that dates to Roman times, a University of Nebraska-Lincoln archeological team this past summer unearthed a new treasure in southern Turkey.

Lying face down in more than a millennium of soil was a life-size marble head, the remnant of a sculpture of the goddess Aphrodite – still beautiful, though scarred by chips on its nose and face.

The sculpture’s body was missing, likely incinerated in a lime kiln many centuries ago.

By somehow escaping destruction, Aphrodite’s head provides yet another telling detail about how profoundly the region was affected by Greek and Roman culture during the first and second centuries, said project director Michael Hoff, Hixson-Lied professor of art history at UNL. Hoff returned to Nebraska in late August after spending nearly three months in Turkey.

The head, Hoff said, is the only piece of monumental sculpture recovered so far in an eight-year archeological dig at the site of Antiochia ad Cragnum (Antioch on the cliffs), an ancient Mediterranean city that once numbered perhaps 8,000 people.

Last year, Hoff’s team discovered a mosaic thought to be the largest of its type in the region. Archeologists believe it adorned an open-air plaza outside a soaring, 60-foot-high Roman bath house.

Aphrodite’s head was a highlight of a 2013 excavation that also uncovered the vestiges of what appears to be a temple, with a second marble mosaic covering its interior floor.

It is unusual to find a mosaic floor in a temple, Hoff said. His next step is to research other examples to learn more about how mosaics relate to temple architecture.

With assistance from Clark University in Worcester, Mass., and Ataturk University in Turkey, the project has excavated sites in a 200-square kilometer area where Antiochia was located. The project’s co-directors are Rhys Townsend, an art history professor at Clark University; Ece Erdogmus, a native of Turkey who is an architectural engineering professor at NU’s Peter Kiewit Institute in Omaha; and Birol Can, an associate professor of archeology at Ataturk University.

One of Erdogmus’ roles is to help reassemble the stones of another temple located not far from the site of the bathhouse.

The new discoveries add evidence that early residents of Antiochia – which was established at about the time of Emperor Nero in the middle of the first century and flourished during the height of the Roman Empire – adopted many of the trappings of Roman civilization, though they lived in relative isolation a thousand miles from Rome. In the past, scholars believed the region’s culture had been too insular to be heavily impacted by Rome.

Yet Hoff and his team have found many signs that contradict that belief.

“We have niches where statues once were. We just didn’t have any statues,” Hoff said. “Finally, we have the head of a statue. It suggests something of how mainstream these people were who were living here, how much they were a part of the overall Greek and Roman traditions.”

Before the city was founded, the region had been a haven for pirates, including the Cilician pirates who kidnapped Julius Caesar in about 75 B.C. Francis Beaufort, an officer in the British Royal Navy, identified Antiochia’s location in the early 19th century using a guide written by the ancient Roman geographer Ptolemy.

Time, and probably Christian vandals, erased much of the evidence of Antiochia. The bath’s vaulted ceilings may have collapsed in an earthquake. By the third century, Rome’s influence was disrupted by insurrections and rampaging armies. By the fourth century, the area was a key site in the development of Christianity – and Hoff suspects that radical Christians destroyed many of the marble statues and reliefs in an effort to eliminate pagan idolatry.

The archeological team has found evidence of lime kilns near the site, leading Hoff to believe many statues and marble panels were burned to make slaked lime used in concrete. It also appears that at about the same time, the sturdy floor created by the plaza mosaic was used as the base for a glass-blowing furnace.

The glass furnace dates to the late Roman period, which began in the middle of the fourth century, Hoff said. He is now convinced that the bath and temple and their mosaics date to the late second or early third century.

Only about half the plaza mosaic was excavated in 2012. The archeologists returned to the site this summer to excavate the its west half. Their efforts included clearing out a 50-foot long, marble-lined swimming pool in the center of the plaza. They found two stairways leading into the oval pool, as well as built-in benches along its inner sides.

The team turned its shovels toward a mound just south of the plaza, where toppled columns lay half-buried. Telltale signs in the layout make the archeologists believe the building had been a Roman temple, though that has yet to be confirmed.

“Everything about it is telling us it’s a temple, but we don’t have much in the way of to whom it was dedicated,” he said. “We’re still analyzing the finds. But the architecture suggests heavily that it was a temple.”

While the larger bath plaza mosaic features large patterned areas, the temple mosaic uses smaller tesserae to compose geometric designs, as well as images of fruit and floral images amidst a chain guilloche of interlocking circles. The temple mosaic measures about 600 square feet.

Though both mosaics are “spectacular,” the temple mosaic is definitely different from the much larger plaza mosaic, Hoff said.

“I don’t think they are connected,” he said.

The two mosaics likely were designed by different artists, with wealthy patrons of the region hiring itinerant contractors to construct the buildings for public use.

Conservators followed the archeological team to protect the mosaics from additional damage and to repair damaged areas with special mortar. Though the mosaics eventually will be prepared for public display, they now are covered with a conservation blanket and a thick layer of sand.

The rubble of the bath’s collapsed ceilings will be cleared during a future excavation season. Parts of the stone substructure of the bath’s walls have remained standing, their marble veneer long missing. Local lore was that treasure was buried at the site.

Hoff said the excavations have, indeed, yielded treasures – though perhaps not those anticipated by legend.

Some nice photos accompany the original article. There’s also this nice little video:

For some previous coverage of this dig:

Graecomuse also had a nice post this past June just prior to the digging, chock full of background and bibliography:

House of Mosaics in Tripolis

From Hurriyet:

Archaeologists working on the ancient city of Tripolis in the Aegean province of Denizli have uncovered a 1,600-year-old house complete with a rich set of mosaics.

“When we removed the earth, we saw that the structures underground had survived. They are in very good condition. We have found the agora and a columned gallery as well as stores. Unexpectedly, we found a house covered with mosaics. The house is fully covered with mosaics, and they were very well-protected. There is little damage to the mosaics,” Denizli Gov. Abdülkadir Demir recently told Anadolu Agency.

Five of Denizli’s 19 ancient cities are in a flat area of the province, including Tripolis, he said, adding that excavations had been continuing in the ancient city for 15 years.

“More than 50 percent of the excavations and restorations have been finished in the agora. The works will be finished by the end of the year and the closed bazaar area in the agora will be opened to tourism,” the governor said.

Different from others

Tripoli was different from other ancient cities in that historic structures had been buried, thereby protecting them from the elements over the intervening centuries.

The head of the Tripolis excavations, Pamukkale University Professor Bahadır Duman, said they were currently working on the agora.

“The house has seven or eight rooms, and its floor is covered with colorful mosaics with herbal and geometric designs. This is why we think that a wealthy family of Tripolis was living in this house. Although it was constructed in the fourth century A.D., the house was also used in the fifth century A.D. People living in this house were not ordinary people; they were very influential,” Duman said.

Archaeologists, however, have determined that human settlement in the area dates back to the third century B.C.

The archaeological excavations have been carried out for two years by Pamukkale University in Tripolis, which was located at the junction point of Phrygia, Karia and Lydia in the Hellenistic period. The city was surrounded with walls in the early Roman period.

In last year’s excavations, geo-radar work revealed a marketplace in good condition. One of the most important findings in 2013 was a church from the early Byzantine period in the sixth century. The soil in the church has been removed, and its roof will be covered with a wooden material as per the original before being opened to visitors

No photos of the mosaics there, alas, but I did track down a video, which works most of the time:

Roman Amphitheatre from Hatay

From Hurriyet:

Researchers and local officials are hailing the discovery of a Roman-era amphitheater in the southern province of Hatay’s Erzin district, noting that the finding could help transform the area into a center of tourism.

“There is an Ephesus-style ancient city here. It will be revealed and this place will become a center of tourism,” said Erzin District Gov. İskender Yönden. “We plan to turn this area into an open-air museum.”
The Roman amphitheater was found during works carried out on a hill. So far, researchers have revealed the facility’s seats, while work is ongoing to unearth the theater stage.

“When the works are done, the district will become a museum area,” Yönden said, adding that the ancient city located along the Erzin-Dörtyol highway was being gradually unearthed. “We already knew about the existence of an amphitheater here and now we are beginning to see it.” Yönden said the excavation area was located at the site of a great battle between Alexander the Great and Persian King Darius.

A somewhat puzzling photo accompanies the original article … Archaeology in Hatay is somewhat confusing to me as I can never be sure where, specifically, they find things. A couple years ago, e.g., they found a huge mosaic in the province (Huge Mosaic Found in Turkey) at a to-be hotel construction site and now we read of this amphitheatre. Is it in the same area?

Still Waiting for that Kizilburun Column to be Delivered …

Interesting item from Hurriyet which is an update of sorts:


A 10-meter column, which was ordered 2,200 years ago for the construction of a temple in one of the three most important oracle centers in antiquity, Klaros, but went down when the cargo ship sank in Çeşme Kızılburun, will finally be delivered to its address. The column was discovered in 1993 by researcher and writer Cemal Pulak, and removed in 2007 by six archaeologists under the coordination of the U.S-based Underwater Archaeology Institute. Research revealed that the column was carried for the Apollo Temple in Klaros, in İzmir’s Menderes district.

The head of the excavations in the ancient center, Professor Nurdan Şahin, said that a team from the Texas A&M University had carried out works to determine the place of the column and found out that it was the sixth column of the Apollo Temple in Klaros Oracle Center.

“For the first time in the world, the address of a sunken ship was found. Following the cleaning process, the plan was to display the column in Çeşme Museum but we said that it would be more truthful to display it in its original place, Klaros,” she said.

We first heard about this column back in 2009: Kizilburun Shipwreck

Another ‘Mass Grave’ from Pisidian Antioch

From Hurriyet:

Excavations that have been continuing for four years in the ancient city of Pisidia Antiocheia in the southern province of Isparta’s Yalvaç district have revealed a second well containing the remains of six people.

Last month, the excavation discovered a mass grave of five people in a well on the ancient city’s Cardo Maximus Street.

Along with the six human bodies, a pig jaw was also found in the well-shaped hole inside a Roman villa with a pool in its garden.

Süleyman Demirel University Archaeology Department head Mehmet Özhanlı said they were very surprised that they had found two mass graves in one excavation season. “While our works have been continuing on the western side of Cardo Maximus Street, we found five skeletons in a well in a structure. This time we found a well-shaped structure in a Roman house. There were six human skulls and a pig jaw. We have determined that the murdered people were randomly thrown into the well,” Özhanlı said.

I’m not sure whether the previous month’s find made it to the English press … there is a Turkist report at Antik kentte cinayet izi (Milliyet). Back in January, the head of the excavations was hyping the town planning at the site: Town Planning at Pisidian Antioch.

Mycenean Rock-cut Tombs from Bodrum

Interesting item from Hurriyet:

Rock tombs dating back to 3,500 years ago have been uncovered in Bodrum’s Ortakent district, which form part of the necropolis area.

Bodrum Underwater Archeology Museum manager Emel Özkan and archeologists Banu Mete Özler and Ece Benli Bağcı are leading the excavations. The experts are still not sure if there was a settlement or not.

The tombs are believed to belong to the early “Mycenaean Greece III A” era, which was a cultural period of Bronze Age Greece taking its name from the archaeological site of Mycenae in northeastern Argolis, in the Peloponnese of southern Greece. The tombs also revealed human and animal bones, bronze containers and many different kinds of pieces. The necropolis area has been taken under protection. The findings of the excavation may belong to the bronze age and also to the Akha Hellenistic era.

The tombs also reveal the culture and the lifestyle of the early Mycenaean Greek era, as well as the period’s artistic approach, according to experts.

Hurriyet has another version at Mycenaean artifacts found in Bodrum which has a different photo … there’s also some added detail from the Today’s Zaman coverage (inter alia):

[...] Speaking to the press, Professor Yusuf Boysal, the supervisor of the excavations, said his team so far has found the remains of several tombs, a canteen, a three-handled cup, a jug, a bronze razor, animals’ bones, many pieces of glass and beads with different shapes.

Boysal added: “Along with these new discoveries, now we will have more information regarding this ancient era. These tombs and other historical ruins are very important and they will give us information about the culture of the people who lived in that era.” [...]

Greek Graffiti from Izmir

Yet another one from Hurriyet which leaves us asking for more:

A rich Greek graffiti collection has been found in the İzmir agora during excavation work in the area. The graffiti shows daily life in the Hellenistic and Roman periods.

The graffiti is estimated to date back to the 2nd and 4th centuries A.D. Experts have said the graffiti was the richest Greek graffiti collection in the world. Besides writing and paintings done with paint, there are also dozens of carvings on the wall.

The graffiti shows that İzmir was very tolerant even in ancient times. The writings on the wall mention the names of different cities, showing tolerance of other cultures.

There are many different figures in the graffiti, from trade ships to gladiators. There are also confessions; one read, “I love someone who does not love me.” One inscription read, “The gods healed my eyes, this is why I dedicate an oil lamp to the gods.” Another piece of graffiti read, “The one who ensouls,” which symbolized Jesus Christ in early Christianity. There are also riddles that have not yet been solved on the walls.

Professor Cumhur Tanrıver said İzmir had the most Greek graffiti in the world. “There are some pieces of graffiti under the plaster as well that we cannot prepare yet. We are having talks with Swiss experts to uncover them without damaging the ones on the top layer.”

The article is accompanied by a photo which is presumably an example of the graffiti, which seems to be a gladiatorial scene. Seems kind of ‘sketchy’ for graffiti … I couldn’t track down any other photos:

DHA photo via Hurriyet

Temple of Roma at Alabanda

… at least that’s what I think they’re referring to; not sure if there’s an ‘Augustus’ or something in there too because it seems to be earlier than the empire. From Hurriyet:

Excavation works of a 2,200-year-old “Goddess Rome Temple” have started in the Alabanda Ancient City near Turkey’s southwestern province of Aydin.

The ancient city sheds light on the history of the region, Archeology lecturer at the Adnan Menderes University, Dr. Suat Ateslier, told Anadolu Agency. Ateslier emphasized that Roman historian Titus Livius Patavinus (Livy) mentioned the Alabanda and temples in ancient articles and added that by following their works in that way, they finally identified the location of the temple.

Built for strengthen relations with Ancient Rome.

Ateslier drew attention to the greatness of the Goddess Rome Temple as it was bigger and much more magnificent than the previously unearthed Apollo and Zeus temples in Alabanda.

“As the Goddess Rome Temple is bigger than the mother goddesses’ temples, we have to think about receiving the political and military support of Ancient Rome. Alabanda had an intense war period during the second century BC with Rhodes and asked support from the Ancient Rome.

Poking around Perseus, we get the Livy story (43.6) in the context of the Third Macedonian War:

There was a gathering of numerous deputations from Greece and Asia in Rome. [2] The Athenians were the first to obtain an audience. They explained that they had sent to the consul and the praetor what ships and soldiers they had. [3] They had, however, made no use of them, but demanded 100,000 modii of corn. Though the soil which they tilled was unproductive and even the cultivators themselves had to be fed on corn from abroad, they had nevertheless made up the amount that they should not fail in their duty, and they were prepared to supply other things which might be required. [4] The people of Miletus mentioned that they had not furnished anything, but expressed their readiness to carry out any orders the senate might wish to give with regard to the war. [5] The people of Alabanda stated that they had built a temple to “The City of Rome” and had instituted annual Games in honour of that deity. [6] They had also brought a golden crown weighing fifty pounds to be placed in the Capitol as an offering to Jupiter Optimus Maximus, and 300 cavalry shields which they would hand over to whomsoever the senate might name. [7] They requested to be allowed to place the gift in the Capitol and to offer sacrifices. [8]

Back in January, excavators found a possible head of Artemis (Artemis (maybe) from Alabanda) …

Honourary Pillar from Sagalassos

The incipit of a Hurriyet piece:

The latest excavations at the ancient city of Sagalassos, in the southwestern province of Burdur’s Ağlasun district, have uncovered the fourth “honorary pillar” of the city’s agora. “They started the 2013 excavation season two weeks ago and the hamam, city mansion, library and neighborhoods have been revealed,” said Sagalassos ancient city excavation vice president and architect Ebru Torun.

The president of the excavations, Professor Marc Waelkens, is from Belgium’s Leuven University. Waelkens’s team consists of 80 people. “There are many different people in the excavation team such as architects, archeologists, geophysicist and many more. These excavations address all kinds of sciences,” added Torun. There are scientists from Belgium, Turkish, Sri Lanka, US and Slovenia participating in excavation works.

The fourth pillar revealed

Torun said one of the most important developments of this year’s excavation was finding the fourth pillar of the agora. The pillar is 12 meters long and the sculpture part of the pillar has been unearthed. “We had found the other three honorary pillars before, now we are working on them to erect them. We were wondering about the fourth pillar and we have found it in a very good condition,” Torun explained.

The pillar has many special features and belongs to the first century B.C.. Noting that they had learnt the writings and the patterns on the pillar and their origin, Torun said, “In each corner of Agora there are sculptures of people that build the agora. This pillar is the fourth of them. These pillars are constructed by the famous people of the city.”

Torun also said that in 2010 the Antonin fountain was the most important find of Sagalasos and that they were currently working to reconstruct the agora a whole. “We want to finish the works in the north of the area and we want to finish the restoration of the agora next year,” added Torun.

Experts have also uncovered traces of Ottoman settlements at the Sagalassos ancient city, in the western town of Ağlasun.

Burdur Provincial Director of Culture and Tourism Mehmet Tanır said July 17 in a written statement that the interesting findings had revealed that the ancient city was abandoned after the 13th century. He said that during the excavations in the upper part of the old Ağlasun-Isparta highway structures, ceramics and metal tools from the Ottoman period had been found. “These findings show that settlement existed at Sagalassos in the Ottoman period and continued until the 18th century. This brings a new dimension to the ancient city.” [...]

A few months ago, Carole Raddato — of Following Hadrian fame —  had a nice two-part feature on her trip to Sagalassos, with plenty of photos:

… and, of course, Sagalassos is one of Archaeology Magazine’s Interactive digs with plenty of info on a decade or so of digging: City in the Clouds. For the most recent info, check out the Sagalassos Archaeological Research Project page …

Myndos Excavations

A somewhat vague and chronically-challenged item from Hurriyet … excerpts:

The ancient city Myndos has been unearthed in on Tavşan (Rabbit) Island in the district of Bodrum. The excavations, which lasted for four years finally revealed some important artifacts and monuments. As a result of the excavations, the King’s Road, churches from the Christian era and storage houses have been revealed.

Archaeologists also found stone tablets that had Myndos written on them. The Roman Emperor Marcus Ulpius Nerva Traianus’ thousand-year-old temples were also uncovered. The excavations also revealed tombs that date back to the early years of Christianity.

The excavations were conducted by Professor Mustafa Şahin of Uludağ University’s archaeology department. The island is close to the shore, and tourists can walk through 50 to 70 meters of shallow water to reach the island.

A temple of Roman Emperor Traianus, who lived between 53 and 117 A.D., was among the discoveries.

The ancient city has been taken under protection. The excavation work is expected to end within two years, and an archaeopark will be opened on Rabbit Island.

In case you were wondering about the rabbits:

As part of a project titled “Rabbits and history will live,” Rabbit Island also got its rabbits back. The fauna and the environmental conditions of the island are suitable for rabbits. In the past there were many rabbits, and with this new project rabbits have been returned to the island. As part of the project, five rabbits have been placed on the island.

… and even more interesting

“The island, which took its name from rabbits and has a 2,500-year history, lost its rabbits because of the excavations. The rabbits that had been sent to Bodrum have been brought back again,” Gümüşlük Mayor Tire said. [...]

That said, it seems odd that they don’t mention a theatre, which was found a couple of summers ago (and which I don’t seem to have mentioned at rogueclassicism because the report was so brief: Ancient theatre discovered in Turkey’s Bodrum)

Sculpture Find Leads to Dig

From Hurriyet:

Sakarya Museum has launched excavations in Kaynarca district’s Uzunalan village after a 2,000-year-old damaged sculpture from Roman times was discovered in the area.

Archaeologists believe the sculpture is not the only work in the area and that there could be other artifacts in the vicinity, according to a written statement from the director of the museum, Murşit Yazıcı.

“Since the sculpture cannot be here alone, we are looking for a settled area,” said Yazıcı. “This sculpture that has a missing hand and no head is from the Roman era and probably belongs to a Roman aristocrat.”

The sculpture was delivered to Sakarya Museum, where examinations confirmed that it was a 2,000-year-old sculpture from the Roman era.

Archaeological studies and pre-excavations have started in the area with contributions from Süleyman Acar, an art historian at Sakarya Museum; archaeologist Gökhan Beyazcem and experts from Kaynarca Municipality.

Yazıcı said the studies that were being conducted in the area were not archeological excavations but that only the pre-excavations were being undertaken in an effort to determine whether or not to proceed with a more comprehensive dig.

We cannot know that without an examination. Now we are conducting pre-studies because we think that the sculpture cannot be alone here; we are looking for an ancient settlement,” said Yazıcı. “This is not an archaeological excavation yet. After the studies, we are going to make a decision.”

“They said that I have found a treasure,” Uzunalan village headman Saffet Tezer said.

There’s a typically not-great photo accompanying the article, which we’re going to include here:

via Hurriyet

The drapery is vaguely reminiscent of the Prima Porta Augustus, but clearly by a lesser artist.  It would be nice to know more about the conditions of its discovery …

Possible Sunken Ships Near Tieion/Tios

From Hurriyet comes a piece exhibiting their frequent problems with B.C./A.D. and its variations:

Two sunken ships have been seen by fishermen off the ancient city of Tieion in Çaycuma’s Filyos district in the Black Sea province of Zonguldak.

With notice that two sunken ships have been seen off the ancient city of Tieion in Çaycuma’s Filyos district in the Black Sea province of Zonguldak, officials have applied to the Culture and Tourism Ministry for diving permission and funding.

The head of the Karabük University Archaeology Department and archaeological excavations, Professor Sümer Atasoy said that they had previously known about the sunken ships in the port of the ancient city but could not have determined their place.

Atasoy said they estimated that the ships had sunk after hitting the rocks, and continued: “We are waiting for permission and funding from the relevant ministry. Two ancient ships are in question. It is told that the ships have pots, columns and stones. We don’t know how deep they are. When we get the fund and permission, divers will dive to take photos and we will have an idea about their location and depth.”

Second AD and 13th BC

Atasoy said after the first examinations, archaeologist divers would continue working, adding, “Underwater archaeology necessitates a different technique. We need to hurry to preserve the sunken ships, which may be from the Roman, Byzantium or Genoese periods between second A.D. and 13th centuries B.C.

We first heard about the plans to dig at Teion back in 2007 (Digging Teion) and the digging seems to have commenced a year later (Digging Teion Redux). More recently, we’ve heard about plans for the theatre they’ve been excavating (Cashing in on Tios’ Theatre?).

Dig Permit Problems in Turkey?

Very interesting item in Spiegel:

It used to be easy for foreign archaeology teams to get excavation permits in Turkey. This year, though, dozens of scientists are still waiting for government permission even though the dig season has begun. Some suspect that politics and nationalism are in play.

On the surface, the mood is buoyant at the annual archaeology conference in southern Turkey. Eager academics, more than a few of them clad in khaki vests and breathable pants, engage in animated conversation as they network and discuss their pet projects. Outside, a warm sun is shining.

But looks are deceiving. For many of those present, the future is filled with uncertainty. The Turkish government in Ankara has still not granted annual permits to many of the excavations that the careers of the scientists present depend on. And there is concern that the reason for the delay has much more to do with the state of Turkey’s relations with the West than with the merits of the projects in question.

“This is not a scientific meeting,” says one German archaeologist who asked to remain anonymous because his permit is still pending(he had hoped to begin digging this month). “It’s all about politics. Everyone is talking about permits and being nice to the bureaucrats.”

The Germans here have reason to worry. The new Turkish minister of culture and tourism, Ömer Çelik, told SPIEGEL in March that some German-led excavations in Turkey are sloppy. “There are many that simply leave sites however they happen to look at the end of an excavation, disorderly and without having been restored in any way — a deserted landscape,” he said.

The interview was essentially a delayed response to insensitive comments made by the head of the Prussian Cultural Heritage Foundation, Hermann Parzinger, who told SPIEGEL a year ago that “Turkey doesn’t have an established system for preserving historical artefacts” and that cultural heritage “is the last thing they think about.”

The harsh words are part of a long quarrel between Germany and Turkey about the provenance of Turkish antiquities that fill German museums. Ankara wants them back and German museum directors have, in some cases, been slow to respond. German archaeologists fear that Çelik’s comments could be a hint that permits might be difficult to come by this year as a result — that science might fall victim to politics.

Becoming Frustrated

Numerous international teams in Turkey that were hoping to start digging in May have not yet been granted permits and dozens of archaeologists from universities around the world are simply waiting. Many archaeologists here at the 35th Annual Symposium of Excavations, Surveys and Archaeometry in Mugla are becoming frustrated by the delays.

“I want to start excavations soon,” said the German archaeologist. “I have a large team and I can’t tell anybody what is going to happen.”

He said there is a real possibility the team will break apart. For one, as the vacation season approaches, flights to Turkey are getting more expensive by the day — making it more difficult for scientists still in Germany to travel to the dig site. Furthermore, funding organizations can’t wait forever to find out if the dig will go forward. In short, a process that used to be a formality has become a ritual of nail-biting.

Many believe that the delays may be simply because Çelik has not been in office for long and that the efficiency of the permit system has suffered. Others, though, fear that Turkey’s approach to archaeology and artefacts is becoming suffused with nationalism.

There are currently far more Turkish-led sites than foreign-led digs. And the latter have been decreasing, from 48 in 2009 to 39 in 2012 — against 116 permits granted to Turkish teams, according to the Turkish Ministry of Culture and Tourism. Many of the foreign permits, though, are for important sites that have been continually excavated by researchers from that country for decades and withdrawing permits in favor of a Turkish team could be detrimental.

Changing the Surgeon

“From my point of view, one could not excavate without the archives and without knowing what’s been done there for the last 100 years,” said a German archaeologist. “You could think about archaeology as a very complicated surgery. You don’t want to change the surgeon halfway through.”

Ankara denies that it is pursuing a strategy of nationalizing digs in the country. In a statement provided to SPIEGEL ONLINE, the Ministry of Culture and Tourism said it treated all permit applications equally, regardless of who they came from.

But many of the scientists at the symposium in Mula aren’t so sure. “The mistake of the last few years has been that of trying to combine science and politics,” said Mehmet Ösdoan, a professor emeritus at Istanbul University. “That hurts science.”

Money, though, could also be a motivation. Many Turkish and international archaeologists say that the current administration prioritizes economic development above everything else, including science. It is a complaint that echoes those of protesters who have been marching through the streets of cities and towns across the country in recent days. Archaeologists can cite numerous examples where important sites were destroyed in recent years during the rush to build things like dams, hotels and subways.

Furthermore, tourism in the country is booming; the number of annual visitors has skyrocketed in the last decade, from 15.2 million in 2002 to 36.7 million in 2012, and a visit to an archeology museum or important site from antiquity is on most itineraries. The grander the site or object, the better the tourism draw — a connection which, given that tourism and archeology permits are managed by the same ministry, Ankara is sure to have made.

“In the past, tourists went to a few select places,” said Ösdoan, who has worked in the field for 50 years. “Now they are everywhere.”

Turkey has also been flexing muscle when it comes to the return of artefacts and has adopted a much harsher tone. Indeed, the increasingly brusque and frequent demands being made of museums like the Metropolitan in New York, the Louvre in Paris and London’s British Museum are what prompted many archaeologists at the conference to bring up their concerns of nationalism. German museums in particular, which hold many excellent pieces from Turkish antiquity, have been a target.

Ethics and Politics

Often, though, it is difficult to determine just how a given object found its way out of Turkey. Despite the fact that the Ottoman Empire banned the export of antiquities in 1884, exemptions were sometimes granted, meaning that the decision as to whether a specific object should be returned is often more about ethics and politics than about legality and science.

“If they have the papers, they should put them on the table,” one German archaeologist, who asked not to be named, said about museums holding controversial items. “And if they don’t, they should return them. We are not in an age where we can fill our museums with stolen objects. That is not compatible with our values.”

Turkey has managed to get some items returned. But archaeologists have often played the role of pawn in the battle. For example, Germany sent the ancient Sphinx of Hattusa back to Turkey in 2011, but only following threats and, later, the withholding of digging permits for German teams. In 2009, German-led teams held 14 permits to lead excavations in Turkey; by 2012 that number had dropped to eight.

Germany is particularly vulnerable to such pressure. The Prussian Cultural Heritage Foundation oversees several significant museums in the country while at the same time holding sway over the German Archaeological Institute that coordinates and funds German digs.

“In the US, archaeology is totally independent. We have no real sway nationally or among other universities (pertaining to the return of antiquities). Putting the pressure on archaeologists is just not effective in the US because we have no power,” said one American archaeologist who asked not to be named because he is waiting for a permit. “Germans are more under threat because there is more at stake.”

Judging by the more-than-weekly announcements of finds from various sites in Turkey, it sounds as if Turkey figures they have hit the point where they believe they can do things on their own. Still, it’s kind of disappointing that the archaeologists (and students going on digs) are the ones who get caught in the middle of fights which began probably before they were even conceived …


Digging to Resume at Sebastapolis

From Hurriyet:

After a 22-year hiatus, archaeological excavations will begin once again in the ancient city of Sebastapolis in the Central Anatolian province of Tokat’s Sulusaray district.

Sulusaray district administrator Yaşar Kemal Yılmaz said Sebastapolis was known as one of the most significant ancient cities in the Central Black Sea and Northeastern Anatolian region.

Yılmaz said the ancient city had been the capital of a number of states in the past. “One of the leading Roman cities, Sebastapolis, is regarded as a ‘second Ephesus’ by archaeologists and experts. It is a highly significant area. But because of some technical problems and a lack of interest, the excavations that were carried out between 1987 and 1991 were insufficient. The ancient city is in a bad and idle situation. We are doing our best for the protection of ancient pieces there with the help of security forces. Excavations should begin as soon as possible to unearth these works and present them to the world,” he said.

Yılmaz added that unearthing the ancient city was also important for Sulusaray district in terms of attracting visitors. “Sebastapolis has strategic importance. The ancient works will shed light on the past. Once the ancient city is unearthed, the district will be a center of attraction,” he said.

Yılmaz said the excavation works would begin this month under the leadership of the Tokat Museum Directorate and the scientific consultancy of Gaziosmanpaşa Univesity History of Department member Associate Professor Şengül Dilek Ful.

Ancient city of Sebastapolis

It is reported in some resources that the ancient city of Sebastapolis was established in the 1st century B.C. The ancient city was included in the Cappadocia region after being separated from the Pontus Galatius and Polemoniacus states at the time of the Roman Emperor Trajan between 98 and 117 A.D. It was known as one of the five largest cities in the Black Sea 2,000 years ago because of the fact that it was located on passageways and thanks to its thermal sources, which are still being used today.

As an indicator of its wealth at the time of the Roman Empire, Sebastapolis had the authority to print money. It is reported that the city lost its importance and was forgotten over time, largely due to big wars, destruction, disasters and changes to passageways.

Recent Finds from Milas, Stratonikeia

A somewhat rambling item from World Bulletin:

Excavations in a field in Milas, a district of the southwestern province of Mugla, has uncovered mosaic tiles belonging to the Roman era.

The excavations began after the Milas Gendarmerie Command raided a store in Milas upon a tip-off and found five Roman-era pots there. Also, three unregistered rifles, one unregistered handgun and fireworks were seized in the raid. Two suspects were taken into custody.

An excavation team then started working in the field where the two suspects reportedly said they had found the pots. Excavations unearthed mosaic tiles one meter below the surface. The excavations at the field continue.

Milas District Governor Bahattin Atçı, gendarmerie Lt. Col. Ertuğrul Memiş and gendarmerie Lt. Gürkan Uygun held a press conference on Friday about the findings. Atçı said he believes the newly found tiles will significantly contribute to Turkey’s cultural wealth. “We already knew that there were very precious historical artifacts in the region. We need to focus more on unearthing them,” he said.

Atçı noted that the mosaic tiles that have been found might be as valuable as ones found in the ancient city of Zeugma in the southern province of Gaziantep. Zeugma is one of the four most important historical settlements under the reign of the Kingdom of Commagene.

The district governor said he hopes the artifacts draw archeologists’ attention to the region. He also stressed that they are also trying to increase intelligence activities and operations against illegal excavations and called on locals to inform the authorities if they know anything about any illegal excavation.

Last year, a 2,000-year-old relief bust of a king was discovered during excavations in the ancient city of Stratonikeia — where the largest gymnasium in Anatolia and a gladiator graveyard are located — in Muğla’s Yatağan district. The bust, which is one-and-a-half meters tall and nearly two meters wide, features depictions of bull heads and the figure of a goddess.


Archaeologists have re-launched an excavation project in the ancient city of Stratonikeia, which is located in the southwestern province of Muğla, where many artifacts have been unearthed since the work first began in 2008.

Stratonikeia, which is situated in the present day village of Eskihisar and often referred to by archaeologists as the world’s largest city built entirely of marble, is also known as an ancient city of great warriors. Many gladiator gravestones have been found there, including those belonging to famous fighters such as Droseros, who was killed by Achilles, as well as Vitalius, Eumelus, Amaraios, Khrysopteros and Khrysos.

The excavations are being carried out by the archaeology department at Denizli’s Pamukkale University and are headed by Professor Bilal Söğüt. Söğüt told the Anatolia news agency that they uncovered 702 historical artifacts in 2012 and have now resumed work for the next six months with a team of 100 people. Söğüt further stated that they have applied to the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) for Stratonikeia to be put on the World Heritage List.

To date the largest gymnasium in Anatolia, a basilica, a necropolis and the fortification walls have been restored. The original 10-meter-high columns on Stratonikeia’s main street have also been re-erected.

Chest Plate (?) Recovered

A brief, and as always, tantalizing item from Hurriyet:

An armor plate, worn by ancient warriors on their chest, has been seized in the northwestern province of Çanakkale’s Lapseki district. The man in possession of the plate, which is thought to have historical importance, has been taken into custody.

Following a tip off, the Lapseki gendarmerie observed a carpenter named M.S., who was allegedly attempting to smuggle historical artifacts, for a week. Then he was seized with the armor plate, which is made up of three pieces. The plate was delivered to the Archaeology Museum Directorate. An examination will reveal the period of the armor plate.

The original article is accompanied by this image:

… clearly not Roman, but we’ll hopefully hear more about this because Lapseki is the ancient Lampsacus, so we have Greek settlers in the area from the 6th century B.C. or thereabouts. The pose of the warrior might seem Hellenizing, at least, but I can’t recall a Greek cuirass which isn’t ‘muscled’ …

Roman Finds from Manisa

A pair of painfully brief items, but if we post both, the picture isn’t too vaguae. First, from Turkish Press:

A number of historical artifacts believed to date back to the Roman period have been unearthed by a backhoe operator in the Sarigol district of the western province of Manisa.

Salih Sari was digging in a field when he hit something. He stopped the backhoe and searched the area with a shovel and found numerous artifacts that are believed to belong to the Roman period.

The artifacts were taken to the Manisa Museum.

… and from Sanliurfa:

3 marble tombs of children along with a vat, a pot, and a bowl of Roman era were discovered in a field near Afsar village of Manisa province’s Sarigol district in western Turkey during a routine work in the field.

A gendarmerie unit was informed about the discovery, and the historical artefacts were delivered to Manisa Museum.

The latter includes a really bad photo of what are apparently the finds. FWIW …

Roman Tomb from Bodrum

Brief (and vague) item from Hurriyet:

A two-room grave has been discovered in the Aegean province of Muğla’s city of Bodrum. The grave is thought to date back to the Roman period, and was found during construction work on Şalvarağa Hill behind Bodrum Port two months ago.An investigation carried out by the Bodrum Museum Directorate revealed that the grave had been robbed and a rescue excavation was initiated by museum officials. A piece of gold leaf found in the grave has been transferred to a museum.Officials said that the grave was probably robbed in the Roman period. After a restoration project. it will be restored and opened to the public.

… a photo of the tomb is included with the original article … could be interesting …

Recent Finds in Smyrna’s Agora

From Hurriyet:

A part of a street similar to the Arcadian street in the ancient city of Ephesus in İzmir has been uncovered during excavations at a nearby historical agora.

The excavations in the area are being carried out under the leadership of Professor Akın Ersoy and his team. He said the main street, which begins from the Faustina gate and continues to the port, had been found to the researchers’ surprise. “We have also found a fountain on this street. The fountain has a statement that praises a benefactor for his support for the ancient city of Smyrna.”

Ersoy said they had also located a multi-echelon staircase on the street. “The continuation of this staircase goes to an area covered with mosaics. This ancient street is 80 meters long, but it reached the sea. This is the most important street in the agora for the entrance of goods. Just like in Ephesus, the street blocks water and has a very good sewer system. Visitors are prohibited from entering the area at the moment. When the work is done, tourists will be able to walk on this street just like in Ephesus.

The agora of Smyrna was built during the Hellenistic era at the base of Pagos Hill. It was the commercial, judicial and political nucleus of the ancient city. After a destructive earthquake in 178 AD, Smyrna was rebuilt in the Roman period and used until the Byzantine period.

One of the historical structures that had been long been neglected in the agora has recently been restored by the municipality as Agora Excavation House with support of the İzmir Development Agency.

via: Main street revealed in agora of Smyrna