Archaeology in Turkey - 2020 in review

2020 was the year lived under the shadow of the world pandemic and many major plans failed to come into fruition. The same can be said about the situation in Turkish archaeology and travel industry. While some of the excavation projects were continued, others came to a halt as the foreign archaeological teams did not manage to arrive to Turkey. This was the situation, for instance, in Didyma and Ephesus.

2020 was the year of Patara archaeological site, photo (c) Michel Gybels
2020 was the year of Patara archaeological site, photo (c) Michel Gybels

December 2020 in Turkish archaeology

In December 2020, archaeologists continued the works in ancient Prusias ad Hypium where the grave of a baby and a number of statues were found. The ongoing restoration works at the Topkapı Palace revealed decorations with simurg and dragon motifs. Moreover, the preparations began for the 3,000-year-old Şamran Irrigation Channel, which was built during the Urartu Kingdom period, to be included on UNESCO’s World Heritage List. The Turkish Culture and Tourism Ministry brought back a statue of Kybele, pre-historic goddess of fertility, which was smuggled to Israel in 1960s and sold there.

Domed ceiling of the harem room in Topkapı Palace in Istanbul
Domed ceiling of the harem room in Topkapı Palace in Istanbul

Visiting Turkish museums and archaeological sites from your couch

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.

Mosaic in Zeugma Museum in Gaziantep
Mosaic in Zeugma Museum in Gaziantep

Public latrines in Ephesus

In the quarter of Ephesus located to the north-east of the junction of Marble and Curetes streets, a public latrine was found. It was constructed in the 1st century CE over a channel with an uninterrupted flow of water and the toilet seats, formed by cutting holes into marble benches that line the walls. There were three rows of toilets along three sides of the latrine. The toilets were wholes cut in a marble bench, and their total number was 48.

This text is a fragment of a guidebook to Ephesus: "The Secrets of Ephesus".

Public latrines in Ephesus
Public latrines in Ephesus

Hıdır Ağa Mosque in Edirne

In Edirne, in addition to the most famous historical mosques, often referred to as the Sultan mosques, there are many smaller and less frequently visited buildings that perform religious functions. One of them is Hıdır Ağa Mosque that due to its proximity to the most famous mosque of Edirne is sometimes referred to as the 'little Selimiye'. However, there is a very little resemblance between these two structures.

Hıdır Ağa Mosque in Edirne
Hıdır Ağa Mosque in Edirne

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