My feelings are probably dismissive of the gravity of this pandemic we continue to ease free from, though I certainly have sorely missed my usual visits to the Temple of Apollo. A small window of opportunity offered itself recently and was hungrily devoured. Nothing much has changed upon the archaeological site; the columns still stand proud as sentinels, the marble continues to dazzle beneath a sun-filled sky, the groundwater steadily dribbles into the southeast section, the reeds growing in abundance, and the Sacred Road remains firmly shut to any inquisitive mind.
April 2020 was another quiet month in the archaeological world, but some important discoveries were made and published, anyway. Possibly the biggest one was made by Israeli archaeologists found a hidden pattern at Göbekli Tepe - an equilateral triangle, underlying the entire architectural plan of the complex. Moreover, five new entries of the sites from Turkey were made into UNESCO Tentative List, for better or worse, as it has been demonstrated in our publication. Meanwhile, one of the most precious historical heritage sites in the country - Hasankeyf - continued to disappear under the waters of Tigris River. The archaeologist went literally underground in Safranbolu and Kayseri where underground tunnels and rooms had been found. Finally, a rather sensational discovery was made in the Ottoman archives, revealing the evidence of the first person ever killed by a meteorite.
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.
As the travel plans of so many of us collapsed with the spread of the coronavirus pandemic, the only possible way to visit the archaeological sites and museums is to go online and check which collections have already been digitised. In the case of Turkey, the Ministry of Culture and Tourism established Sanal Muze website that offers a 3D experience of some of the best-known state-run archaeological and ethnographic museums. The downside of this project is the fact that even though the museums offer descriptions of the exhibits, they are only available in Turkish at the moment.
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.