Wandering through the old districts of Istanbul, you can easily see how rich and multi-layered is the history of this city, the former capital of the Eastern Roman Empire. This is evidenced not only by the most magnificent and well-known buildings but also by those less apparent, often hidden in a tangle of narrow streets. One of them is the building of the old bazaar, now known as Taşhan i.e. the Stone Inn. We stumbled across it accidentally, wandering from Yenikapi station towards Şehzade Mosque. Our attention was caught by a stone building, the entrance of which was visible at the end of the alley turning off Gençtürk Street. Soon, we found out that it was worth getting off the main route because Taşhan is not only an extremely photogenic place but also the one with a fascinating history and hiding a great secret.
On April 14, 2020, five sites of historical importance located in the area of Turkey were added to the UNESCO Tentative List, extending it to 83 positions. These new additions include a small historical town of Central Anatolia, a huge port city of the Aegean coast, a beautiful valley in Kayseri Province, a neo-Hittite site in Southern Anatolia, and Roman-era fortifications situated in the south-eastern part of the country. Moreover, two castles on the Aegean coast were added to the previously registered list of fortresses and trading stations on the Genoese trade routes. We have provided an overview of these sites in a separate article. This is a varied and well-balanced collection of the places of enormous significance for the history of the region.
Five new historical places located in Turkey were added to UNESCO’s World Heritage Tentative List on April the 14th of 2020, increasing the number of objects on this list to 83. The five new places are: historical town of Beypazarı in Ankara Province, the historical harbour city of Izmir on the Aegean coast, Karatepe-Arslantaş archaeological site in Osmaniye Province, Koramaz Valley in Kayseri Province, and the Zerzevan Castle and Mithraeum in Diyarbakır Province. Moreover, the list of Fortifications on Genoese Trade Routes from the Mediterranean to the Black Sea, first registered in 2013 was extended by the addition of two places: Çeşme Fortress and Güvercinada Fortress in Kuşadası.
The district of the Temple of Athena represents the typical situation within the Hisarlık Mound – the accumulation of multiple settlement layers and structures one on the other. Here, the sacred precinct of Athena, the goddess of wisdom, handicraft, and just warfare was erected on the bastion of the Late Bronze Age Troy. The Temple of Athena was rebuilt several times and was finally demolished, becoming the source of construction materials in the early-modern era.
For well-known reasons, March 2020 was a slow month in many ways, as the world almost stopped. The archaeological activities were also very limited in the past month, with the most impressive discovery announced by Italian archaeologist Vittoria Dall'Armellina, who discovered that a mislabeled sword in the Venetian Saint Lazarus Monastery is actually 5,000 years old. The chemical composition of the sword matches that of other specimens found in the Royal Palace of Arslantepe, an archaeological site in Eastern Anatolia, and the sword found in the Tokat Museum in Turkey, originating in the Sivas region. Their shapes are also remarkably similar.
The nine swords from the archaeological site of Arslantepe (Melid) attest the use of this weapon for the first time in the world – at least a millennium before the already known examples. They date back to the Early Bronze Age (c. 33rd to 31st centuries). A cache of nine swords and daggers was found in the 1980s by Marcella Frangipane's team of Rome University. They are composed of arsenic-copper alloy. Among them, three swords were beautifully inlaid with silver. These weapons have a total length of 45 to 60 cm which suggests their description as either short swords or long daggers. Some of these swords are now on display at the Archaeological Museum in Malatya.