Category Archives: TURKEY

Archaeologists in Turkey Unearth 2,500-Year-Old Temple of Aphrodite

Archaeologists in Turkey Unearth 2,500-Year-Old Temple of Aphrodite

During excavations at the Temple of Zeus Lepsynos, one of Anatolia’s best-preserved Roman temples, in the western province of Mula, two 2,500-year-old marble statues and an inscription were discovered.

Archaeologists in Turkey Unearth 2,500-Year-Old Temple of Aphrodite

Built with donations in the second century B.C., the temple is located in the ancient city of Euromos.

Abuzer Kızıl, the head of the excavation committee and faculty member at Muğla Sıtkı Koçman University’s Archeology Department, told the state-run Anadolu Agency on July 11 that they were currently carrying out works in the temple, agora, theatre, bath and the city walls.

Expressing that Euromos is “one of the luckiest ancient cities in Anatolia” due to its location, Kızıl said that they started to implement important projects related to the Temple of Zeus Lepsynos.

“We took approximately 250 blocks stacked on top of each other on the southern facade of the temple and moved them to the appropriate area to be used in restoration works.

We then started the excavation work, hoping that there were architectural blocks under the ground. While waiting to explore the architectural blocks, we encountered great surprises.

Two statues and an inscription were discovered under the ground. We got very excited. In fact, it excited not only us but also the world of archaeology, as here we have unearthed two very important links of the missing archaic sculpture of the Caria region and an inscription dating to the Hellenistic period,” Kızıl said.

Kızıl added that the sculptures were categorized as kouros, a modern term given to free-standing ancient Greek sculptures.

“One of the two kouros unearthed at Euromos is naked while the other is wearing armour and a short skirt. The armour is made of leather, and it is remarkable to see that both statues have a lion in their hands. Ichnographically, the lion has great significance; we have not been able to find exact copies of either of the statues so far,” Kızıl said.

The naked statue with a lion in his hand indicates that it is most likely to be Apollo.

Kızıl said the inscription from the Hellenistic period was expected to reveal important insights on the Carian history, and efforts to decipher it were ongoing.

Pointing out that temples and artefacts are the common heritage of humanity, Kızıl said their primary goal was to restore the Temple of Zeus Lepsynos to its former glory.

Neolithic Site Discovered in Western Anatolia

Neolithic Site Discovered in Western Anatolia

Hurriyet Daily News reports that 11 sets of human remains dated to some 8,500 years ago have been unearthed in northwestern Turkey by archaeologists who were called to the site when residents found pieces of ancient ceramics in the yard of their apartment building.

The site, likely to be one of the first spots of human settlements in western Anatolia, was first discovered after a Bilecik resident reported some ceramic fragments found there to the Archaeology Museum.

As a result of the field works that started after the discovery and continued for two years, 11 human skeletons, which are estimated to be 8,500 years old, and musical instruments with three holes from the same period were found in the yard of an apartment building.

Archaeologists also found wheat varieties used in making bread and pasta, as well as grains such as lentils, barley and vetch.

Associate Professor Erkan Fidan, the head of the excavation, said that the human skeletons found in the excavation area belonged to the oldest adolescent humans ever in the Neolithic era in western Anatolia.

“We have uncovered the first villages of human communities that came here 9,000 years ago and remained here for nearly 1,000 years,” Fidan said, adding that the people living in the region who know how to do agriculture also domesticated animals.

Fidan noted that they also found skeletons of other humans in the excavation field and that the skeletons would be examined in detail at Hacettepe University’s Anthropology Department Laboratory.

“In the very near future, we aim to learn many things about ages, genders, diseases these people had as well as the kind of food they ate,” he added.

The finds discovered during the excavation will be exhibited at the Bilecik Archaeology Museum after the completion of the restoration process and research works.

Turkey, ancient, archaeology.

1,800-year-old headless Greek statue found at Turkey’s Metropolis site

1,800-year-old headless Greek statue found at Turkey’s Metropolis site

Archaeologists in western Turkey have unearthed a 1,800-year-old marble statue from the ancient ruins of Metropolis, known as ‘City of the Mother Goddess’ during the Roman period.

Earlier this month, the Turkish Culture and Tourism Ministry’s Department announced the discovery of the Roman-era statue, a robed female figure with her head and both arms missing.  

The limbs were probably attached separately, according to Art News, though more work needs to be done to uncover the identity of the figure, researchers say.

The current excavation is a collaboration between the ministry and Celal Bayar University in Manisa, Turkey.

Metropolis (Greek for ‘mother state’) was a name bestowed on various cities, though this one is in Western Turkey’s Torbali municipality, about 25 miles from modern-day Izmir, the country’s third-largest city.

The headless Greek statue.

Humans have occupied the land for at least 8,000 years, since the Neolithic period. 

Artefacts indicate it was inhabited by Hittites during the Bronze Age (when it was known as Puranda) and was also active during the Hellenistic, Roman, Byzantine and Ottoman periods.

It was founded as Metropolis by the Greeks in roughly 300 BC and, despite its matriarchal name, was home to one of only two known temples devoted to Ares, the Greek god of War.

The sculpture dates to Metropolis’ Roman era—when the empire controlled Anatolia, the portion of Turkey located on the Asian continent.

Roman scientist-philosopher Ptolemy described the town as an important trading post in Lydia, about halfway along the ancient trade routes between Smyrna and Ephesus.

Though the figure’s head and arms are missing archaeologists say she is otherwise quite well-preserved

Fieldwork began in the region in the 1970s, with excavations at Metropolis starting in the mid-1980s.  

Since then, archaeologists have uncovered more than 11,000 artefacts, according to Art News, including coins, ceramics, glass, ivory and metal objects.

The city ‘has a deep-rooted history dating back to prehistoric times,’ Celal Bayar University archaeologist Serdar Aybek told the Turkish-language Demirören News Agency in January, according to an English-language report in Arkeonews. 

‘It has the fertility brought by the Küçük Menderes River. It is a region that has always been settled.’ 

Notable finds include a Hellenistic marble seat of honour uncovered in the outdoor theatre, elaborate Roman baths featuring sculptures of Zeus and Thyke, goddess of good fortune, as well as other Roman-era buildings including a sports complex, government building, various shops, galleries and public toilets.

More recently, four massive interlocking cisterns big enough to hold 600 tons of water were uncovered in the city’s acropolis last year.  It’s believed they were used during the Late Roman period and may have been helpful when the city was under siege by invaders.

The Greek theatre at Metropolis restored in 2001. Photo taken 2007.

In the 12th and 13th centuries, when the cisterns were no longer used to provide water, they became a garbage dump, with animal bones, broken ceramics and other detritus of daily life found on the site, according to the Daily Sabah

The Turkish government opened the ‘City of the Mother Goddess’ to tourists in 2014.

Is there an ‘underworld’ under the earth, according to a new archaeological find?

Is there an ‘underworld’ under the earth, according to a new archaeological find?

Excavations at the Yazlkaya Rock Temple in Turkey, which began over 200 years ago, have uncovered an ancient calendar and a map of the cosmos, both of which provide fascinating evidence.

The paintings in the strange stone carvings, which were probably made about 3,200 years ago, include details of an “underworld” sitting beneath the earth.

Watch an explanation from Luwian Studies University that researched the subject:

In the temple, discovered by a French archaeologist and historian Charles Texier as early as 1834, limestone carvings depicting more than 90 different figures, including animals, monsters and gods, have been found.

It took almost 200 years to decipher the paintings, but researchers have determined that the representations are of a cosmos that includes the Earth, the sky and the “underworld” that show the vitality of the creation myth.

On one wall there are drawings of the goddess of the sun and the goddess of the storm, where one can see that gods were placed in the painting higher than the other figures.

In contrast, on the eastern and western walls of the temple one can see the lesser people, the phases of the moon and the seasons, signifying “cycles and rebirth,” according to the researchers.

Is there an 'underworld' under the earth, according to a new archaeological find?
Relief with the twelve gods of the underworld at Yazılıkaya Rock Temple

According to estimates, scholars estimate that in those days there were about 17 deities, each with a line marking between the gods. Also, in one of the rooms of the temple was a painting dedicated to the “underworld,” with testimonies of the god of the sword.

“We believe the temple fully represents a symbolic image of the universe, including its static levels – earth, sky and underworld, as well as the cyclical processes of renewal – day and night or summer and winter,” one researcher explained in an interview in an article published in the Journal of Skyscape Archaeology.

Archaeologists have discovered a 2800-year-old Urartian Castle in eastern Turkey

Archaeologists have discovered a 2800-year-old Urartian Castle in eastern Turkey

Archaeologists have discovered the remains of a castle dating back 2,800 years ago on a mountain at an altitude of 2,500 meters (8,200 feet) in the Gürpınar district of eastern Turkey’s Van province.

According to their examinations, the findings show that the castle had been used by different civilizations since the Urartians.

The remains were unearthed during an excavation project sponsored by Van Yüzüncü Yıl University. A large cistern with a depth of 6.5 meters, a length of 6.5 meters and a diameter of 2.5 meters, walls and ceramic artefacts were also found in the castle.

Archaeologists examine the remains of the castle on a mountain, Van, eastern Turkey

“Although it is believed to be dated back to the Urartian era like the Van Castle, we see that it was mostly used in the Middle Ages,” Rafet Çavuşoğlu, the head of the excavation team and an archaeology professor at Van Yüzüncü Yıl University, told Anadolu Agency (AA).

“We understand from the ceramic pieces, the cistern and the city walls that this place was built about 2,800 years ago,” he said.

He added that limestone rock and sandstone were used in the construction of the walls in the area.

The newly found castle will contribute to the historical richness of the district, Hayrullah Tanış, district mayor of Gürpınar, said. “In cooperation with Van Yüzüncü Yıl University, we made an important discovery here.

We found a new castle witnessing the Urartian period and the Middle Ages. This discovery excites us in terms of tourism and culture,” Tanış added.

Turkish archaeologists find 2,400-year-old monument at Haydarpaşa

Turkish archaeologists find 2,400-year-old monument at Haydarpaşa

Hurriyet Daily News reports that a semicircular structure dated to the third century B.C. has been uncovered at the site of the Haydarpașa train station in Istanbul, which is located on the Asian side of the Bosporus

Apse Dated to Third Century B.C. Uncovered in Istanbul

The structure, discovered at the station’s waiting platforms, covers a large area and is apsidal in form, a feature common in ancient churches.

These remains give significant hints about Khalkedon, the ancient ‘Land of the Blind’ from some 2,500 years ago.

While the site’s architecture does not lend any clues to its function, archaeologists believe it was considered sacred.

However, they also estimate that the building is the oldest architectural structure unearthed in these excavations.

Speaking to Demirören News Agency, Mehmet Ali Polat, Chief archaeologist of the Haydarpaşa excavation, gave information about the field works and finds.

Remains were found in an area of 350,000 square meters, including the area surrounding the station, said Polat, adding that small finds, pots, coins dating from around 6 B.C. to the modern-day were found, all from various eras.

“This is the northwestern port of the ancient city of Khalkedon, a large structure that could be a warehouse. On the other side of the road, we see a group of buildings that could be a small summer palace,” Polat said.

The Haydarpaşa Train Station was shut down for restorations, in which ancient artefacts were unearthed, and since then, Haydarpaşa has been an excavation site.

The digs, started in 2018 by Turkey’s Culture and Tourism Ministry and Istanbul Archeological Museums, have been done with the utmost care for the last three years.

Digs revealing historical structures shed light on the deep roots of Anatolia and Istanbul, a cradle of civilizations.

Early Bronze Age Burials Uncovered in Istanbul

Early Bronze Age Burials Uncovered in Istanbul

Hurriyet Daily News reports that archaeological investigation in Istanbul ahead of the construction of a subway station near the European shore of the Bosphorus uncovered burials dated to between 3500 and 3000 B.C. 

Early Bronze Age Burials Uncovered in Istanbul

A giant pier was built in the area and a canvas was laid on it in order to protect the finds from the weather incidents that would disrupt the excavations, which have been continuing at full speed since 2016.

The remains from the late Ottoman period and the late Byzantine period were found during the field works in addition to the ruins of a tram line and depots built-in 1910.

Below this layer, some small finds belonging to the Hellenistic and Roman periods were also unearthed, which are considered as “very significant” for the Bosphorus line.

However, the findings that excited the archaeologists the most were found in excavations made at a depth of one and a half meters above sea level.

In this section, it was revealed that there were kurgan-type graves under the stone rows.

Since all of the oldest kurgan-type tombs found in the country belonging to the early bronze age were buried after the cremation, the bones of the remains have cracked and disintegrated.

For this reason, archaeologists in the field continue their work meticulously using dental tools.

A very delicate work is done and all the graves are opened and documented during the excavations, according to Mehmet Ali Polat, an archaeologist involved in excavations.

Kurgan-type graves found dates back to 3,500 B.C., that is, they belong to the era that we call the first bronze period in chronology,” Polat said, adding that nearly 82 graves were found inside and outside the kurgans in rows of stones.

“A total of 75 of these 82 tombs belong to cremation, that is, bodies buried by burning. Seven of them were direct burials,” he noted.

Pointing out that two terracotta figurines were found inside a tomb, Polat drew attention to the fact that such figurines had not been found before.

“There were some symbols on the figurines. When we did some research, we saw that these were runic alphabet symbols. Symbols are seen in the Vinca culture in Romania,” Polat added.

When the tombs are evaluated together with the small finds and runic alphabet symbols, it can change the migration map from Anatolia to the Balkans, to the northeast of Europe and the Black Sea, according to the expert.

Polat announced that the findings unearthed during excavations in Beşiktaş, one of the busiest squares of Istanbul, would be exhibited to the public at the top of the metro station.

Monastery, 1500-year-old mosaic unearthed in Turkey

Monastery, 1500-year-old mosaic unearthed in Turkey

During an illegal excavation project carried out by two suspects in the Aliağa district of Turkey’s western Izmir province, a monastery built in the Roman period and a nearly 1500-year-old mosaic were discovered.

Monastery, 1500-year-old mosaic unearthed in Turkey
A closeup of the fine floor mosaic work from the Roman monastery discovered in Izmir Province, Turkey, after security forces were alerted to the theft in progress

Turkish Gendarmerie teams, acting on a tipoff, launched an operation in the mountainous area of the Aliağa district which has no vehicular access. The suspects were nabbed trying to remove the historical remains from about 2 meters (6.5 feet) below the ground.

Later, experts from the Izmir Archeology Museum investigated the region and the area was put under protection. The mosaic will be taken to a museum after initial studies are performed.

Two experts from the Izmir Archeology Museum investigate the area where the mosaic and monastery unearthed, Izmir, western Turkey

Hünkar Keser, the director of the Izmir Archeology Museum told Anadolu Agency (AA) that the team came to the region following the Turkish Gendarmerie’s notification. “We discovered the floor mosaic. This place was used as a monastery and has a basilica,” said Keser.

Explaining that the team estimates that the monastery was used between the fourth and 14th century, Keser said the mosaic was very valuable archaeologically.

“It is located at a point where it can be reached by tractor from the pathways. This is a universal cultural asset and a rare artefact,” he said.

The Incredible Images Created With Byzantine Mosaics

The Byzantine Empire refers to the continuation, in parts, of the wilting Western Roman Empire, in its eastern advancement roughly from the 5 th century AD to the middle of the 15 th century.

With its capital at Constantinople, the overwhelming influence of Eastern Orthodox Christianity appeared in all art forms during the period, including architecture. During this period, the art produced drew heavily on Hellenistic motifs and iconography, frequently with mystical themes.

Mosaics are carefully constructed colourful and detailed pictures made of finely cut marble, limestone and pebbles, known as tesserae.

The Byzantine Empire was renowned for its mosaics. And many of these incredible works of art celebrated the union of church and state.

The spread of Byzantine mosaic culture was not restricted to Constantinople but spread to distant regions of the empire, including the Balkans, southern Italy, and parts of Russia.

In fact, the rapid increase in mosaic artists who possessed the technical mastery and aesthetic sense of this artform led to huge cross-cultural influences, including Islamic art styles, especially by the Abbasids and the Umayyads.

While the messaging was politico-religious, it was impossible to ignore the distinctions in style and aesthetics and the resultant beauty.

An especially impressive Byzantine mosaic in the Hagia Sophia church that eventually became an important mosque

The world-famous Hagia Sophia, now a museum, began as a church and then became an important mosque for nearly 400 years, is especially celebrated for its exceptional range of gorgeous mosaics, made by the finest craftsmen.

This is also true of the mosaics found in the monasteries at Hosios Loukas, Daphni and Neo Moni of Chios in Greece, which are all marvels of the Byzantine mosaic artform and, incidentally, UNESCO World Heritage Sites.

Due to the eventual collapse and sacking of the Byzantine Empire capital of Constantinople in the 15 th century AD, many mosaics were destroyed forever. And this was a terrible loss for historians and cultural aficionados worldwide.

Izmir itself, the location of the current find, was once the ancient Greek city of Smyrna, which became a part of the Byzantine Empire. It was ransacked several times: twice by the Turks in the 11 th and 14 th centuries, and then by the Ottomans in the 15 th century.

The recently discovered Roman monastery mosaic will be removed from the ground and taken to the museum for further study. It is a find that has great historical implications, and it is only a matter of time before we learn more.