December 2020 in Turkish archaeology

Domed ceiling of the harem room in Topkapı Palace in Istanbul
Domed ceiling of the harem room in Topkapı Palace in Istanbul

In December 2020, archaeologists continued the works in ancient Prusias ad Hypium where the grave of a baby and a number of statues were found. The ongoing restoration works at the Topkapı Palace revealed decorations with simurg and dragon motifs. Moreover, the preparations began for the 3,000-year-old Şamran Irrigation Channel, which was built during the Urartu Kingdom period, to be included on UNESCO’s World Heritage List. The Turkish Culture and Tourism Ministry brought back a statue of Kybele, pre-historic goddess of fertility, which was smuggled to Israel in 1960s and sold there.

Turkish Archaeological News collects the most important, interesting and inspiring news from Turkish excavation sites. Here's the review for December 2020. Have we missed anything? Let us know by using Contact tab!

December 1, 2020

A secret ancient city: History of Syedra brought to life through excavations

According to finds uncovered during excavations, which continue with the permission and support of the General Directorate of Cultural Assets and Museums of the Ministry of Culture and Tourism, the ancient city of Syedra dates back to the third century B.C. While the settlements in the ancient city continued until the 13th century, Syedra's most glorious time was in the second century A.D., when the city walls were erected. Source: Daily Sabah

One Year of Prison for Person Who Wrote on Historical Clock Tower

A person who sprayed "Ramocan" on the clock tower, the historical symbol of Antalya, was sentenced to one year in prison. Source: Arkeofili

December 3, 2020

The secret of the 2,000-year-old gladiator relief has been solved

A 2,000-year-old gladiator relief captured by the police in Çanakkale was examined by the Troya Museum officials, where it was delivered. The warrior was a retiarius class gladiator, wearing a lightly armoured outfit, without a helmet on his head. Source: Demirören Haber Ajansı(DHA)

December 4, 2020

Gladiator relief examined at Troy museum

A 2,000-year-old gladiator relief that was seized by the police in the northwestern province of Çanakkale has been examined by Troy Museum officials. It was determined that the warrior in the relief was a “Retiarius” class gladiator, who wore a light armored suit consisting of an arm and shoulder protection, did not have a helmet on his head, and preferred to fight with a net and spear. Source: Hürriyet Daily News

Infant grave, statues in ancient city of Prusias ad Hypium excite archaeologists

Archaeologists have uncovered exciting new findings in the excavations of a theater in the ancient city of Prusias ad Hypium. The recent work unearthed the grave of a baby and a number of statues around the city's theater, providing significant insight into the period of late antiquity in the region. Source: Daily Sabah

December 7, 2020

Germany resists calls for return of artifacts smuggled from Turkey decades ago

Legal efforts by the Ministry of Culture and Tourism have failed to secure the return of the mihrab of Beyhekim Mosque in the central province of Konya, which was smuggled out more than a century ago, as well as the Old Fisherman’s Statue taken from the ancient city of Aphrodisias in western Turkey’s Aydın. Source: Daily Sabah

Wreck of historical warship with unknown flag found off İzmir

Turkish academics express excitement over the discovery of a warship, which is believed to have sunk in the 18th century and whose parts are widely scattered, off the coast from Foça in the Aegean province of İzmir. Source: Hürriyet Daily News

Simurg and dragon motifs found in Topkapı Palace

During the ongoing restoration work at the Topkapı Palace, 16th century 'Saz Road' decorations with simurg and dragon motifs were found. Source: Arkeolojik Haber

December 8, 2020

Hypaipa ancient city comes to surface

A 2,000-year-old ancient city in İzmir’s Ödemiş district, Hypaipa, will be added to Turkey’s trove of tourism destinations as excavations there have been ongoing. Source: Hürriyet Daily News

700-year-old chapel in Istanbul’s historical peninsula used as tire storage

A historical chapel, believed to be 700 years old, has been found in the backyard of a tire shop in Istanbul’s Fatih district. The chapel, a significant part of which is still intact but deplorable due to neglect, is used by a shopkeeper to preserve hundreds of old tires. Source: Hürriyet Daily News

December 9, 2020

Ancient irrigation channel eyes UNESCO’s World Heritage List

Preparations have begun for the 3,000-year-old Şamran Irrigation Channel, which was built during the Urartu Kingdom period and is considered a world water engineering wonder, in the eastern province of Van to be included on UNESCO’s World Heritage List. Source: Hürriyet Daily News

400-year-old lost decoration art unearthed in Ottoman palace

An example of classical period decoration called “saz-style” has been found on the vaulted ceiling in the fourth courtyard of Istanbul’s iconic Topkapı Palace, the former seat of the Ottoman sultans and their retinues, during a restoration work that has been ongoing for five months. Source: Hürriyet Daily News

December 10, 2020

'Oldest' inscriptions unearthed in northern Turkey

Inscriptions claimed to be the oldest in the Black Sea region, and Doric headers used in ancient architecture have been unearthed in the ancient city of Tieion in northern Turkey. Source: Hürriyet Daily News

December 11, 2020

Goddess Kybele returns to homeland

The statue of “mother goddess” Kybele, which was believed to be the symbol and protector of abundance and fertility in prehistoric times, is set to return to the land where she was born. According to a written statement made by the Culture and Tourism Ministry, the 3rd century-statue Kybele, which was smuggled from Turkey to Israel, will return to Turkey from the U.S. on Dec. 12 by Turkish Airlines, after 50 years. Source: Hürriyet Daily News

December 14, 2020

Ancient statue of Kybele returns home

The Turkish Culture and Tourism Ministry on Dec. 13 brought back a historical statue of Kybele, pre-historic goddess of fertility, which was smuggled to Israel in 1960s and sold there. Source: Hürriyet Daily News

1,500-year-old church defies test of time in southeastern Turkey's Şanlıurfa

Built during the rule of the Eastern Roman Empire, the Nuhrut Church in the southeastern province of Şanlıurfa still bears traces of its vast history and has become a gathering point for the people of the area. Source: Daily Sabah

December 16, 2020

Archeologists find mysterious structure in Istanbul

Archaeologists have found what they think is a mysterious structure, beneath which there are mass graves, in excavations in Istanbul’s Kadıköy district. Source: Hürriyet Daily News

Ottoman town celebrates 26th anniversary of being on UNESCO heritage list

Safranbolu, a district of the Black Sea province of Karabük that has become famous for its preserved historical buildings from the Ottoman period, marks the 26th anniversary of its entry into the UNESCO World Heritage List on Dec. 17. Source: Hürriyet Daily News

December 17, 2020

Cultural heritage inventory records in Turkey rose to 294

Some 180 cultural and artistic values in a wide range from Turkish culinary culture to traditional arts have been added to Turkey’s national inventory of the intangible cultural heritage, raising the count to 294. Source: Hürriyet Daily News

Art of Miniature added to UNESCO list

Turkey’s Foreign Ministry on Dec. 16 praised UNESCO for adding “Art of Miniature” to the Representative List of Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity. “Our multinational nomination file of ‘Art of Miniature,’ submitted with Azerbaijan, the Islamic Republic of Iran and Uzbekistan, has been inscribed on the UNESCO Representative List of Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity during the 15th Session of the Intergovernmental Committee for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage being held online between 14-19 December 2020,” the ministry said in a statement. Source: Hürriyet Daily News

Return of goddess statue eagerly awaited in Afyonkarahisar

The Kybele statue, which was smuggled to Israel after being unearthed during a road construction in 1964 in the western province of Afyonkarahisar’s Çavdarlı district, has caused great excitement in its hometown after news that it would be brought back to Turkey and be displayed at a museum in the city. Source: Hürriyet Daily News

Historical Kara Koyunlu mausoleum to be restored in eastern Turkey’s Van

Built during the Kara Koyunlu (Qara Qoyunlu) Dynasty period in the eastern province of Van, a historical kümbet – a dome-shaped mausoleum from Seljuk architecture – will be restored after being severely damaged in the 2011 earthquake that shook the city. Source: Daily Sabah

Grotesque figure found in the ancient city of Prusias ad Hypium

During the ongoing excavations in the ancient city of Prusias ad Hypium in Düzce Province, a grotesque figure, which is considered to belong to the Roman period, was found. Source: Arkeolojik Haber

Top 10 Archaeological Discoveries in 2020 in Turkey

In a year under the shadow of the Covid-19 pandemic, archaeological studies continued largely without slowing down. Source: Arkeofili

December 18, 2020

160 million-year-old fossilized tree, oldest in Turkey, discovered in Erzurum

Historian and researcher Oğuzhan Türk was wandering in the beautiful countryside of Erzurum searching for precious gems when he came across the remains of a piece of natural history, which turned out to be a 160 million-year-old fossilized tree. Source: Daily Sabah

Turkey's traditional strategy game added to UNESCO list

Turkey’s Foreign Ministry on Dec. 17 praised UNESCO for adding the traditional strategic game Mangala to the Representative List of Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity. Source: Hürriyet Daily News

3 people caught in historical artifact smuggling in Denizli

3 people were detained in the historical artifact smuggling operation in the Tavas district of Denizli. Source: Arkeolojik Haber

December 19, 2020

Rock tombs used as urns found in Afyonkarahisar Phrygian Valley

In the cleaning works carried out within the scope of the Street Rehabilitation Project in the historical Phrygian Valley in the Afyonkarahisar's İhsaniye district, cavities in which the ashes of the burned dead were hidden on the wall of the rock tomb were found. Source: Arkeolojik Haber

The 1800-year-old Hercules relief in Bursa was riddled with holes

In the Iznik district of Bursa, the Roman period Hercules rock relief was attacked by treasure hunters. The gendarmerie launched an investigation. Source: Arkeolojik Haber

1001 coins caught in Diyarbakır

Three suspects who wanted to sell 1001 bronze coins belonging to the Ottoman, Abbasid, and Zengid periods were caught red-handed in Diyarbakır. Source: Arkeolojik Haber

Grave gifts found during excavations in Hadrianaupolis Ancient City

The gifts for the 1800-year-old dead were found in a grave discovered in the ancient city of Hadrianaupolis in the Eskipazar district of Karabük Province. Source: Arkeolojik Haber

December 20, 2020

Karahantepe to boost tourism in southeast Turkey's Şanlıurfa

Southeastern Turkey's Şanlıurfa is one of the richest locations in terms of archaeological treasures. It is home to the prehistoric temple of Göbeklitepe, often dubbed "zero point in time." Karahantepe, another prehistoric site in the city, has recently joined that list. The site caught the imagination of experts and tourists alike after initial estimates suggested it may be older than Göbeklitepe, which currently holds the record for being the oldest temple in the world. Karahantepe is now expected to significantly boost the city's tourism. Source: Daily Sabah

December 21, 2020

New artifacts found in Black Sea region excavations

Gifts dating back 1,800 years that have been given to the dead throughout history have been unearthed in a grave in the ancient city of Hadrianaupolis in the Eskipazar district of the northern province of Karabük. Source: Hürriyet Daily News

Expert restorer works to conserve Istanbul's cultural heritage icons

Senior conservator and restorer Venizelos Gavrilakis works to clean and restore an 18th-century Byzantine Christian icon at a Greek Orthodox church in Istanbul, Turkey, Dec. 4, 2020. As head director of Leri Parakatathiki Conservation and Restoration Labs, Gavrilakis has been working as a conservator and restorer of paintings, cultural artifacts and artwork for more than 25 years and relocated from Greece to Turkey eight years ago with the mission of preserving artifacts of cultural importance. Source: Daily Sabah

December 22, 2020

İzmir to get 'new Ephesus,' says mayor

The Aegean province of İzmir is expected to get a “ new Ephesus” once an ancient theater believed to be buried and currently being excavated is revealed as archaeological works have been ongoing, İzmir Mayor Tunç Soyer has said. Source: Hürriyet Daily News

1,800-year-old grave offerings unearthed in ‘Zeugma of Black Sea’

Some 1,800-year-old grave offerings have been unearthed as part of the latest excavations in a grave in the ancient city of Hadrianopolis in the Eskipazar district of Turkey's northern Karabük province. The artifacts, consisting of oil lamps, medical instruments, rings and mirrors, were unearthed from a woman's grave. Source: Daily Sabah

Germany, Italy offer to join excavations unearthing Roman artifacts

The excavation of artifacts dating back to the Roman period in northern Turkey’s Düzce province received attention from Germany and Italy, as the two countries offered to participate in the work being done at the archeological site, the province mayor said. Source: Daily Sabah

December 23, 2020

Over 11 mln visit online museums amid pandemic

Around 11.5 million people visited 32 museums and historical sites in Turkey through the government’s digital platform, the top culture and tourism official said on Dec. 22. The ministry unveiled the digital portal of museums and historical sites at the end of March after the COVID-19 outbreak, which hit the tourism industry hard. Source: Hürriyet Daily News

December 25, 2020

Restoration of iconic movie theater nears completion, set to open in 2021

A historic movie theater on Istanbul’s iconic İstiklal Avenue is scheduled to meet the public eye in the first months of 2021 as the ongoing restoration works at the theatre are close to completion. Source: Hürriyet Daily News

Historic Halicarnassus walls to come to light

A restoration project has been implemented to unravel the Halicarnassus Walls, which were built by the Karian Satrap Mausolos 2,400 years ago in Bodrum, under the scope of which salvage excavation, cleaning and landscaping works have been ongoing. Source: Hürriyet Daily News

December 28, 2020

Works continue in ancient underwater basilica

Underwater archaeological research has been continuing in the ancient basilica, which was discovered 20 meters off the İznik Lake in the northwestern province of Bursa’s İznik district in 2014. The basilica is located at a depth of 1.5-2 meters. Source: Hürriyet Daily News

Turkey’s art temple in Ankara reopens after one-year hiatus

Hosting the most valuable works of Turkish art history, the Ankara State Painting and Sculpture Museum reopens after nearly a year of restoration. Source: Hürriyet Daily News

December 29, 2020

Four cisterns found in Metropolis ancient city excavations

Four interconnected cisterns were found in 2020 archaeological excavations in the Metropolis ancient city. It is estimated that the cisterns provided water for the city during long sieges. Source: Arkeolojik Haber

December 30, 2020

Emperor Neron’s lighthouse to be made earthquake resistant

A report prepared against a possible earthquake and tsunami has been approved in the restoration of the Patara Lighthouse, which was commissioned by the Roman Emperor Neron in AD 54 in the Mediterranean province of Antalya. Having collapsed as a result of a strong earthquake in the sea and the tsunami waves that followed in 1481, the 26-meter-high historical site will be strengthened against a new possible earthquake. Source: Hürriyet Daily News

Cisterns unearthed in Metropolis ancient city

On its 30th year, archaeological excavations in the ancient city of Metropolis continue to reveal the secrets of history. This year the excavations, headed by Manisa Celal Bayar University Archeology Department academic Professor Serdar Aybek, unearthed four monumental structures which are connected to each other. Source: Hürriyet Daily News

December 31, 2020

Urartu Caves in Tunceli to serve tourism

Located in the eastern province of Tunceli’s Çemişgezek district, the Urartu Caves, which are carved into steep limestone rock chambers, will be brought into tourism with the Fırat Development Agency’s 2020 Tourism and Industry Development Financial Support Program. Source: Hürriyet Daily News