Izmir Archaeological Park Opens

From Today’s Zaman … interesting as well for the info about the Oracle of Claros

An archeological park exhibiting exact replicas of excavated pieces opened on Monday at Klaros, the site of an important ancient Greek shrine to Apollo, in Menderes, İzmir province.

In a speech given at the opening ceremony, İzmir Governor Cahit Kıraç said Turkey and İzmir are a paradise for tourists, and that the historical artifacts left in the city by various civilizations should be viewed by the world.

“I resent the fact that only 15 percent of the site has been excavated so far. I expect that this work will be completed as soon as possible. This project is important to our minister of culture and tourism. The İzmir Chamber of Commerce and İzmir Development Agency [İZKA] extends its full support to the Smyrna and Agora excavations. More than 210,000 archeological pieces are in storage [in İzmir]. I would like to express the need for a Museum of Aegean Civilizations,” Governor Kıraç went on to say.

Ege University Rector Candeğer Yılmaz said the park is a model project built jointly by the university and the local and national governments. Pointing out that archaeology is not as popular as it should be in Turkey, Yılmaz said: “Archaeology is real science. It can teach the past and shape the future. It is important to exhibit archaeological finds in their original environment. I believe it is important to get tourists out of their hotel rooms and into every corner of Turkey.”

The district governor of Menderes, Tahsin Kurtbeyoğlu, said the archeological park project was launched on July 17, 2010, and Klaros was chosen for its importance as an archeological site. Significant improvements were made to the site, Kurtbeyoğlu said, adding that exact plaster models of 13 pieces from the site will be exhibited in the park.

Professor Nuran Şahin, who supervised the excavation, praised the Klaros Archeopark Project and noted that they have made replicas of pieces in museums and exhibited these replicas at the site.
Oracle of Claros

Historical records show that the Oracle of Claros was founded about 1300 B.C. as a temple dedicated to Apollo, and it remained an important sacred site throughout the Hellenistic and Roman eras, with the high point of its fame having been in the second century C.E. A sacred cave near the site points to the existence of a Cybele cult here in earlier periods. The first historical reference to the oracle involves Alexander the Great, who ordered the building of a new city at Smyrna based on the oracle’s interpretation of a dream.

Located in the Ahmetbeyli Valley in modern-day Menderes, the Oracle of Claros is known as one of the oldest centers of prophecy in the world. The first excavation on the site began in 1904, and most recently excavation was resumed by a Turkish team in 2001. In 2010 a decision was made to transform the area into an archaeological park; the project was completed jointly by the Menderes District Governor’s Office, Ege University and İZKA.

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