Great Excavations

Troy: Great Excavations

Heinrich Schliemann has been described as ‘the creator of prehistoric Greek archaeology’, but he was an amateur when he took up archaeology aged 46 after making his fortune in business.


Tayinat: Lion gate discovered in Turkey

A superbly carved and intact lion sculpture, excavated by a Canadian team in south-eastern Turkey, is reminiscent of the lions excavated by British archaeologist Sir Leonard Woolley in 1911 at the royal Hittite city of Carchemish. This lion was unearthed from the remains of a monumental gate complex at the entrance to the citadel of […]


A postcard from Knidos

I have returned to Knidos after 40 years. Across the decades you forget the outlines of the trenches and the stratigraphic relationships these contained. Instead, Knidos remains etched in my memory as a panorama encompassing the suggestive silhouettes of many of the
Dodecanese islands, as well as the brilliant crystalline blue expanse of the Aegean.


Turkey: Neolithic life at Çatalhöyük

The house-proud Neolithic inhabitants of Çatalhöyük inadvertantly frustrated archaeologists by keeping their homes clean. Now Lisa-Marie Shillito examines an aspect of the site’s rich archaeological heritage invisible to the naked eye.


Postcard from Gordion

Last summer, one day stands out above all others: my first trip to Gordion (ancient Gordium), a Turkish city associated with Midas, and the golden touch of a Penn professor, Rodney Young. From all I had heard, I assumed it would be arid and charmless. But archaeologists are the very worst travel-guides. Seldom, if ever, […]


Book Review: A Companion to Byzantium

Spanning Emperor Constantine’s inauguration of Constantinople in AD 330 to the city’s fall to the Ottomans in AD 1453, Byzantium is one of history’s most complex, fascinating, and misunderstood Empires. A Companion to Byzantium aims not to provide a blow-by-blow narrative history describing every nuance of Byzantium, but to explore issues and themes that are […]


Travelling Turkey

To sail the Turkish Coast is to embark on an historical and archaeological adventure that spans over 3,000 years of history. It brings to life successive civilizations of Lycians, Greeks, Romans, Byzantines, and Ottomans, all of whom stamped their mark on this remarkable region. These great cultures have not only left beautiful and inspiring physical […]


Turkey Ancient Paphlagonia

For the Hittites of the Late Bronze Age it was a difficult, wild country where the restless Kashka people lived. For the Romans, it was a hostile highland zone harbouring the Mithridatic kings who battled Rome for over 200 years, until the region was finally incorporated within the empire. And in the Byzantine period the […]



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.



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.



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.


Yenikapi, Istanbul

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.

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