Text and photos by our correspondent from Didyma, Glenn Maffia.
An ever vigilant friend messaged me last week to say that after meeting with some people close to the Temple of Apollo in Didyma she decided to walk home taking a route around the back of the Temple’s outer perimeter wall.
What she observed appalled her; sections of the fencing which top the walls had been ripped or weathered down, the ageing walls themselves (constructed in the early 1900s to deter the villagers from entering the active archaeological site) are in a sorry condition with some of the stones toppled during the last large earthquake in 2019, whilst the stones in the ‘hidden from the public’ areas have been blighted by that adolescent curse of daubing their names in spray paint. The site, therefore, is not secured in the slightest, and the sight of the spray paint an abomination to those who happen upon all this graffiti.
Perhaps the oldest surviving Roman monument in Istanbul is the Column of the Goths, located in the northern part of Gülhane Park. This monument, 18.5 meters high, consists of a rectangular base and a column made of Proconnesian marble, topped with a capital in the Corinthian order.
While February 2022 was a relatively quiet month in the context of archaeological discoveries made in the area of Turkey, several significant events took place in that month. Rare swords from the Byzantine Empire were discovered in a fortified city of Amorium, a military stronghold located between the Byzantine capital of Constantinople and the cities of Nicaea and Ancyra. Several 2,500-year-old fortifications were uncovered in the ancient city of Pergamon. Moreover, Roman remains dating back 1,800 years were found in a valley near the Balkayası village of Ağın district in the eastern province of Elazığ. Finally, new findings unearthed during excavations in the ancient city of Dara in the southeastern province of Mardin revealed that the historical site had been an important olive production and trade centre.
Similarly to the much better-known church of Constantinople -- Hagia Sophia -- also the present-day Hagia Eirene represents the last of many places of worship to be erected in the same location over many centuries. The well-preserved church, named after the Holy Peace, can now be found in the first courtyard of Istanbul's Topkapı Palace. Moreover, it is one of the few Eastern Roman churches in Constantinople that has never been converted into a mosque, and now functions as a museum and a concert hall.
The beginning of 2022 brought some major archaeological discoveries in the area of Turkey. In the ancient city of Perre, located in the southeastern province of Adiyaman, archaeologists uncovered a bronze military diploma dating back 2000 years. In the ancient city of Kastabala, located in Turkey's southern province of Osmaniye, relief masks were unearthed on the architectural blocks of the theater. Moreover, historical graves were found during a foundation excavation at a construction site near the ancient city of Antandros, located in the Edremit district of Turkey's western Balıkesir province.