Text by our correspondent from Didyma, Glenn Maffia.
Just prior to Christmas, I received a number of communications from my sources within Europe concerning the future of investigations into the Temple of Apollo at Didyma. Nothing concrete, you must understand, but nonetheless intriguing in the way that such archaeological tenets are being evolved, or rather dissolved, by the principle institutions engaged in this highly valuable and crucial work.
As it is also the case of other ancient cities, also the archaeological artefacts found in Ephesus can be seen in different locations around the world. The findings excavated between 1867 and 1905 were taken to the British Museum, while the Ephesos Museum in Vienna displays numerous artefacts discovered between 1896 and 1906, when seven Austrian archaeological expeditions transported findings to Vienna. Luckily, numerous artefacts are now on display in the Ephesus Archaeological Museum in Selçuk, near the ruins of Ephesus.
The exhibits unearthed during the excavations in Miletus are scattered across numerous museums. In Turkey, the finds from Miletus are on display in the small local museum in Miletus, but also in archaeological museums in Izmir and Istanbul. However, taking into account the long and eventful history of Miletus, the collections displayed in the Turkish museums are surprisingly sparse. For instance, one of the most interesting objects - the Market Gate - was transported in pieces to Germany and reconstructed in the Pergamon Museum in Berlin. Moreover, there are also numerous other finds from Miletus on display in other museums, forming the famous Museum Island in Berlin. This publication looks closer at the artefacts presented in the oldest museum of this group - the Altes Museum.
The year 2022 saw many remarkable archaeological discoveries made in the area of Turkey, spanning the millennia and broadening our knowledge about the prehistory and history of that region. Excavations continued in many locations, including Ephesus, where the last quarter of the year brought the announcement about a groundbreaking find: the archaeologists working for the Austrian Academy of Sciences were able to uncover an early Byzantine business and gastronomy district in the heart of this ancient city.
Many discoveries concerned the prehistory of Anatolia, as the researchers worked in Çatalhöyük, one of the best-preserved Neolithic settlements where the remains of an 8500-year-old wooden ladder were found. The end of the year brought one of the most important discoveries of 2022: an 11,000-year-old wall relief, located near Şanlıurfa's Sayburç, depicting two humans, a bull, and two leopards. Moreover, 8,200-year-old stone cutting tools were excavated in the Yeşilova Mound in Izmir.
Also, knowledge of the Urartian civilization that once thrived in the area of what is now eastern Turkey, was vastly improved. In May, the water level of Lake Van fell, revealing a one-kilometer Urartian road connecting Çarpanak Island to the shore. Two months later, treasure hunters revealed a 2,700-year-old Urartian temple in Garibin Tepe in Alaköy. Moreover, at the ongoing excavations in the Gürpınar district of Van province, a chamber tomb carved into the bedrock and a water channel dating back to the Urartians were found.
December 2022 saw some important discoveries made in the area of Turkey. Possibly, the most impressive one was an 11,000-year-old wall relief, located near Şanlıurfa's Sayburç, depicting two humans, a bull, and two leopards. It constitutes the earliest known depiction of a narrative scene and reflects the relationship between humans and the natural world that surrounded them during the transition to a sedentary lifestyle. Even older traces of human activity were found during the archaeological excavation carried out in the Gedikkaya Cave in Bilecik Province. There, a stone figurine was discovered in a 16500-year-old votive pit belonging to the Epipalaeolithic period, the transition phase from the Paleolithic Age to the Neolithic Age.
From the more recent history, this year's excavations at the Urartian castle's site in Van Province revealed the second temple of King Menua as well as a chamber tomb. Further to the north, a pair of lynx-shaped gold earrings were unearthed near Ani ruins. In western Turkey, archaeologists discovered rare sculptures of ancient Greek gods in the city of Aizanoi in Kütahya Province. The sculptures found on the site include Eros, Dionysus, and Hercules.
The restoration works carried out last month included ten historical Ottoman bridges in Bitlis Province. Perhaps even more impressive restoration project was finalized in the ancient city of Kibyra in Burdur Province of southwestern Turkey. There, the approximately 2,000-year-old monumental fountain will start flowing with fresh water again thanks to the restoration project. Sadly, there was also some sad news, as the tourism officials claim that the Basilica in the ancient city of Hierapolis, which is on the UNESCO World Heritage List, is in danger of collapse.