August of 2019 was a month abundant in archaeological discoveries in the area of Turkey. Possibly the most amazing one was the announcement that the ancient city of Troy may have been founded 600 years earlier than previously thought. Moreover, an excavation team was surprised when they discovered a temple in the ancient city of Priene, possibly devoted to Zeus. Archeologists digging at the Barcın Mound found that cheese, yogurt, and butter were first produced there 8,600 years ago, in the Neolithic Era. Finally, the remains of the memorial tomb of Azan, the founder of the ancient city of Aizanoi have unearthed.
In recent years, many successful restorations of historical mosques have been carried out in Edirne. However, there are still numerous buildings awaiting the renovation, and Evliya Kasim Pasha Mosque is one of the most neglected of them. Its fate is even more depressing if you realise that it is a very old structure, dating back to the end of the 15th century. Let us take a closer look at the mosque's history and the reasons of its abandonment.
During the restoration works carried out in the Museum of Turkish and Islamic Arts, i.e., the former İbrahim Pasha Palace, an unusual discovery was made. The restoration was conducted between October 2012 and October 2014, and that is when the excavations on the museum's ground floor enabled the discovery of the vaulted structure. It once belonged to the tiers of the west side of the Hippodrome of Constantinople. After the conservation works were done by the experts from Istanbul Restoration and Conservation Central Laboratory, the ruins became a part of the museum's exhibition space.
The peculiar case of Fatma Sultan Cemetery in Edirne offers an opportunity of demonstrating how even simple facts can be misinterpreted and confused. The main element of this puzzle is the grave of a 12 or 13 years-old girl called Fatma Hanım, situated in this cemetery, dated to the years 1573-1574.
It was quite perplexing to observe that the excavation trench reaching down into the depths of the Sacred Spring was in a condition of being reinterred when I visited the site on Sunday. Perplexing, for as to my knowledge, the archaeologists had burrowed no further than 1 to 1.5 metres beneath the surface. That may have been enough to reveal the broken and almost demolished stairwells, but if it were their aim to locate the 'sweet waters' of the spring (and I do not know if that was their intent) it is well recorded by none less than Klaus Tuchelt, former Director of Excavations here in Didyma, that the spring resides at least 2.5 metres beneath the surface of the Archaic floor upon which we walk today. See Tuchelt K., 'Fragen zum Naiskos von Didyma,' Archäologister Anzeiger, 1986. I have also learnt that this depth is noted in the diaries of Knackfuß and Hörmann.