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.
Among the archaeological discoveries announced for November 2022, the most impressive ones included a 3200-year-old trepanned skull, found in eastern Van province. This special find was made during the salvage excavation in the Early Iron Age necropolis. Moreover, a multi-layered legionary cemetery, carved into the bedrock in the Roman Empire castle, has been unearthed in the ancient city of Satala.
Closer to the more touristic regions, it was announced that the dome of the historical Clock Tower, one of the symbols of Antalya, has been put in its place after 90 years. Also, the items of unique historical heritage, including the human-sized bronze statue of the Roman Emperor Lucius Verus and the columnar sarcophagus fragments from the ancient city of Perge near Antalya, have been returned to Turkey from the United States. In western Turkey, a seal belonging to the city was found for the first time during excavations in the ancient city of Klazomenai in the Urla district of Izmir province.
The most sensational news was the discovery of a skeleton of a man who was a victim of the Santorini volcano eruption. It was found along the coast of Ionia, in what is now Turkey. The man and his dog had been killed by the tsunami that resulted from the cataclysmic eruption of the volcano almost 3,600 years ago. Underwater archaeologists were also busy, as they found 14 shipwrecks off Antalya coast this summer alone. Now, the number of shipwrecks found off Antalya since 2000 exceeds 350.
Text and photos by our correspondent from Didyma, Glenn Maffia.
There appears to be few pertinent ideas circulating within our present age, an age of mass media disseminating dogmatic ‘information’ across the political and financial arenas of this ever shrinking world.
I have noticed that conversations I overhear in public are generally in broad agreement with each other, as the kernel of that ‘news’ invariably arrives from the same source, albeit across possibly differing mediums. Such be today’s viral propagation.
This has also infected my sphere of interest; that of history, aesthetics and archaeology. I hope that you have the patience to tolerate me whilst I endeavour to redress the equilibrium to a level of sanity.
Text by our correspondent from Didyma, Glenn Maffia.
An article appeared in the Didim press a short while back, where the title rather intrigued me in respect that it suggested that the Temple of Apollo, at the very least, would be afforded some defence against the rampant exploitation of mass tourism.
Though, after absorbing the content, I was left utterly deflated in any lingering hope that those whom purport to care and tend to the protection of this site have any altruistic motivations whatsoever.