This issue features a trove of Turkish treasures. We begin in the ancient city of Myra on the southern coast of Turkey. This was once home to St Nicolas, the benign 4th century bishop of subsequent Santa Claus fame. Myra’s remains include a vast 11,000 capacity Roman-era theatre and numerous intricate rock-carved tombs — as […]
Myra, on the southern coast of Turkey, was home to the 4th century bishop St Nicolas (of Santa Claus fame). What remains of his city? In 2009, Prof. Çevik and his team launched major investigations to discover more. The first season has revealed the most unexpected results.
This autumn the Penn Museum will hold an exhibition on their first-ever excavation at Nippur in modern Iraq. But it all centres on a most scandalous affair, as Richard Hodges, Director of the Penn Museum explains.
As the capital of two great empires, Istanbul (and in its previous incarnation as Constantinople) contains a great wealth of culturally important material. Little wonder that it has been named Europe’s Capital of Culture 2010.
Exquisitely located just 11km from the Mediterranean coast, the city was founded atop a 60m high acropolis. Its history is both deep and complex. According to the Classical author Strabo, the city was founded after the Trojan War by Achaeans under the leadership of Mopsus and Calchas. In fact, the site dates back to the late 5th millennium BC, and has been continuously occupied since the early 3rd millennium BC.
Sagalassos lies about 100km north of Perge, some 1,450-1,750m above sea level. It was occupied by at least the 5th century BC, and by the 4th century BC it controlled the whole Valley of Ag˘lasun. Its territory was further expanded after the city’s conquest by Alexander the Great in 333 BC.
The city of Caunus (also known as Kbid), on the southwest coast of Turkey, first finds fame in the literary sources during the time of the Persian Wars (546 BC). There is a great deal to be found at this fascinating site including numerous monumental buildings and impressive rock-cut tombs.
When Otto Benndorf presented his excavation project plans to the Ministry of Culture in 1893, he calculated that Ephesus could be uncovered in about five years. What followed has been the largest archaeological enterprise carried out on Turkish soil, 115 years of excavation.
In his writings, Strabo explains that the city of Metropolis is 120 stadia from Ephesus – and indeed it lies about 35km north of Ephesus on the western coast of Turkey. Though much less well known than Ephesus, Metropolis deserves a place on any discerning visitor’s itinerary.
Laodicea is well sited on a high plateau and surrounded by the rivers Lycos, Kapros and Asopos. Little wonder the city has an ancient history: our excavations in the area have revealed architecture, pottery, obsidian and flint stone finds dating back to the 4th millennium BC.
The site has become famous partly for its large size (about 5,000-8,000 people lived there) and long occupation (the site is Neolithic and Chalcolithic and dates from 7400 BC to 5500 BC). It is also famous because of the crowding of its houses. There were no streets, instead people moved around the settlement on the roofs and entered the houses by ladders.
From one iconic archaeological site to another, we end this round-up at Troy, on the western coast of Turkey. The site was more or less continuously inhabited from about 3000-500 BC, with a small village surviving into the Middle Ages. It is the location of the legendary city of Ilion, also known as Troy in the Iliad, the epic poem attributed to Homer, one of the oldest works of literature in Europe.