Painted Terracotta Figurines Discovered in Turkey

Painted Terracotta Figurines Discovered in Turkey

SHARE THE ARTICLE
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  

Painted Terracotta Figurines Discovered in Turkey

Dozens of terracotta figurines that are over 2,000 years old have been found by archaeologists, including ones that represent gods, goddesses, men, women, cavalry, and animals. In the ancient city of Myra, in what is now modern-day Demre in Turkey, some of the figurines still had drawings on them and some had inscriptions, and both opened a window into life.

Some of the figurines didn’t have bodies, suggesting there were other terracottas to be found in the area.

This collection of figurines, “gives us rich clues about what existed in the mysterious Myra under a thick silt layer in the first and second centuries B.C.,” said Nevzat Çevik, a professor of archaeology at Akdeniz University in Turkey who led the excavation.

Myra is “one of the most important ancient settlements in Lycia,” an important maritime region along the Mediterranean Sea.

Myra’s port was once one of the largest harbors in the ancient Mediterranean; it is famous for its rock-cut tombs jutting from the hills, the church of Saint Nicholas, who was Myra’s bishop in the fourth century, and its 11,000-seat Roman-era theater.

Çevik and his team were excavating parts of this theater between June and October 2020 when they unearthed a second, smaller theater below the Roman remains.

The older structure dates back to the Hellenistic period, from 323 B.C. when Alexander the Great died to the beginning of the Roman Empire in 30 B.C.  They expected to find the Hellenistic theater, but the terracotta figurines scattered in it were “an unexpected big surprise,” Çevik told Live Science.

“It is as if the people of ancient Myra were resurrected and ran through the time tunnel all together and came to our day,” Çevik remembers telling his team when they found the figurines. 

The figurines were discovered in a Hellenistic theater buried beneath the famous ancient Myra theatre in southwestern Turkey.
Painted Terracotta Figurines Discovered in Turkey

The figurines, which are 2,100 to 2,200 years old included mortal men and women as well as divine figures such as Artemis, Heracles, Aphrodite, Leto, and Apollo; they also included figurines depicting a woman and a child, a boy with a fruit, a horseman and a woman carrying hydria (an ancient Greek water vessel).

Because of the “collective coexistence” of the figurines and the fact that the collection included divine figurines, votive plates, and incense containers, the researchers think that the figurines may have been brought in from a cult area and thrown here.

The collection gives “important clues about the Hellenistic period of Myra and Lycia,” he said.

Some of the statues had partially preserved paint on them. Red, blue and pink were used “intensely in different shades” in the clothes of the figurines, he said.

The inscriptions on the backs of some of the figurines could be the name of a master or workshop. The fact that the team discovered more than 50 terracotta heads that are missing their bodies suggests there are more figurines in the area to be found. 

The team also discovered a variety of ceramic, bronze, lead, and silver objects around the terracottas. They plan to continue excavating the area this year.

In the meantime, the excavation team is working to preserve, repair, and assemble the hundreds of small pieces that make up the terracotta collection. They plan to publish their findings and display the terracottas at the Andriake Lycian Civilizations Museum in Antalya, Turkey.

The excavations were led on behalf of Akdeniz University and Turkey’s Ministry of Culture and Tourism. 


SHARE THE ARTICLE
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *