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:

‘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

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

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

Seeking a Roman Theatre in Izmir

From Hurriyet:

The İzmir Metropolitan Municipality has started demolitions on appropriated land in order to unearth a Roman theater under shanty houses in the city’s Kadifekale district. The municipality has so far paid 8 million Turkish Liras for the confiscation of the nearly 13,000-square-meter area.

Eight of the 52 houses to be demolished in the first stage have been torn down and archaeologists have already unearthed the walls of the theater, which has a capacity of 16,000 people.

The most detailed information about the ancient theater in Kadifekale is in the research of Austrian architect Otto Berg and archaeologist Otto Walter, who examined the area in 1917 and 1918, though many researchers have concluded that the remains of the theater have features of the Roman period.

When the municipality revives the theater, it can be seen by those visiting the Konak, Akllsancak, Karşıyaka and Bornova neighborhoods of the city. Similar to the excavated Ephesus Ancient Theater, concerts and shows will be organized in the theater as well.

A book on the theater

Writer İlhan Pınar said that after the translation of Berg and Walter’s work, a book about the ancient theater will be published within a month. “The only source [of information on] this theater is their research. Their goal was to excavate the area after the war in 1917. They wanted to show that İzmir was very rich in history and this historical richness should be protected after being revealed,” he said.

Hellenistic Statue from Izmir

From Hurriyet:

A 2,500-year-old statue of a woman from the late Hellenistic period has been unearthed during the excavations at the Metropolis ancient city in İzmir’s Torbalı district.

According to a written statement made by the Sabancı Foundation, new artifacts are being unearthed during the excavation of the ancient city, which has been ongoing for 22 years as part of a collaboration between the Culture and Tourism Ministry, Trakya University, the Metropolis Association, the Torbalı Municipality and sponsored by the Sabancı Foundation.

The head of the excavations, Trakya University Archaeology Department Associate Professor Serdar Aynek, said the headless, dressed, female statue was found buried in the city wall and that the statue reflected the richness and magnificence of the late Hellenistic period in its 2-meter length.

Aybek said that many statues found around the city walls during the excavations had been sent to the İzmir Museum.

Sabancı Foundation General Director Zerrin Koyunsağan said the statue might be a woman who managed the ancient city. “I think that thousands of years ago women had significant roles in society and city management. At the Sabancı Foundation, we are carrying out projects on the issue of social gender in Turkey. This is why this female managerial statue that connects with the work of our society is meaningful for us,” she said.

As often, the photo accompanying the original article isn’t very helpful. It seems to be part of a series which is seen in this Turkish language newspaper:

Yet another Turkish source includes this photo, which seems to be the piece in question: