December 2019 brought wonderful news for the new Troy Museum, as it was shortlisted for the European Museum of the Year Award. Moreover, the new tourism season of 2020 should see two new museums opened in Turkey. The first one is the Museum of the Story of Hazelnut in the Black Sea province of Ordu. The second venue is the Cappadocia History and Culture Museum, being built underground by carving volcanic tuff rocks in the Avanos district of Nevşehir. On the other hand, UNESCO World Cultural Heritage List Diyarbakır city walls are sold and dismantled, and the historical city of Hasankeyf is disappearing under the waters of Tigris River.
2019 was another busy year for the archaeologists working in the area of Turkey. Let us start the summary of this year by giving some basic facts. In 2019, 153 excavation projects were carried out throughout the country. 31 of them were conducted under the Turkish management while 122 were headed by foreign managers. The major archaeological sites where these teams worked were: Olympos, Patara, and Side in Antalya Province, Kibyra in Burdur, Laodikeia and Tripolis in Denizli, Teos in Izmir, Pisidian Antioch in Isparta, Parion, Assos, Trio in Çanakkale, Zeugma in Gaziantep, Anemurium in Mersin, Euromos, Stratonikeia, Lagina and Knidos in Muğla, Zerzevan Castle in Diyarbakır, Silifke Castle in Mersin, Beçin Castle in Muğla, and Harran in Şanlıurfa.
İsa Bey Mosque is located at the southwestern foot of Ayasuluk Hill in Selçuk, between the ancient Artemision and the Basilica of St. John. It is the most impressive example of Muslim architecture in the town. Erected in the 14th century, it represents the transitional period of Anatolian architecture — post-Seljuk, but pre-Ottoman. This mosque is also one of the oldest and most impressive works of architectural art remaining from the times of the Anatolian beyliks.
With the opening of the new Trojan Museum, the visitors to Troy now have a possibility to gain much more information about this archaeological site and put its history into a much broader perspective. Most of the artefacts displayed in the museum had been previously exhibited in the Archaeological Museum in the centre of Çanakkale, far away from the site of Troy. The new arrangement makes it much easier to see these objects, and the visit to the museum is an excellent introduction to the tour of Troy.
Ephesus has had a long tradition of being a centre of religious pilgrimage. The earliest pilgrims arrived to worship the Anatolian goddess known as Kybele. Later, this deity merged with the Greek goddess Artemis and was venerated at the great Artemision, attracting the pilgrims from all over the Mediterranean region. These ancient cults of female deities were later echoed in the worship of St. Mary, mother of Jesus, that supposedly spent the last years of her life in Ephesus. According to this tradition, Mary arrived at Ephesus together with St. John and lived there until her Assumption (according to the Catholic doctrine) or Dormition (according to the Orthodox beliefs). The House of the Virgin Mary (Meryem Ana Evi in Turkish) which can be still visited today, is a place where, according to the beliefs of many people, Mary, the mother of Jesus, spent the last years of her life. However, similarly to the history of St. John, there are many questions and uncertainties regarding this location.