In May 2023, some 400 shops started to operate in the historical Uzun Çarşı, one of the symbols of the quake-hit southern province of Hatay. The archaeological excavations were carried out around the country, for instance in the southern province of Osmaniye's Kadirli district, where the mosaic depicting the Trojan War hero Aeneas was found in the ruins of a Roman villa. The excavations also began to unearth 2,600-year-old archaeological remains on the Sedir (Cleopatra) island in the Gulf of Gökova.
Moreover, the excavations were conducted for the first time in the ancient city of Mobolla, located in the Menteşe district of the western province of Muğla. In Istanbul, during the ongoing excavations in the ruins of Saint Polyeuktos Church, a 1,500-year-old underground passage has been discovered.
New cultural venues were opened in Turkey last month, too. The new building and exhibitions of Istanbul Modern, Turkey's first modern and contemporary art museum, was opened on May 4. The Culture and Tourism Ministry also restored the 140-year Alsancak Tekel (Monopoly) Factory in Izmir and transformed it into the Izmir Culture and Art Factory. Finally, within the scope of the "City of Museums" project, the Kuşadası Municipality is establishing a museum in the Güvercinada Castle and Historical Caravanserai.
Text and photos by our correspondent from Didyma, Glenn Maffia.
It was an immense pleasure to welcome a friend of many years back to Didyma last weekend. His absence had been necessitated by the Covid pandemic and then other work commitments, but after four long years his arrival was most welcomed and the conversation flowed as if there had been no interruption.
Still recovering from the disastrous earthquakes, Turkey is now preparing for the possible disasters of this kind to hit the country in the future. Towards this goal, it was reported that the restoration and strengthening works against possible earthquake risk in Istanbul's Grand Bazaar, which have been going on for about three years, mostly came to an end in April 2023. Moreover, nearly 400 small artefacts from the Hatay Archaeology Museum, some of which got damaged during the Kahramanmaraş-centered earthquakes in February, were sent to the Kırşehir Museum for protection against aftershocks.
On a brighter note, the past month saw the return of the artefacts smuggled over the years from the country. For instance, the Met Museum returned looted antiquities while the Antalya Archaeology Museum opened an exhibition displaying a special section of 12 smuggled historical artefacts the U.S. returned to Turkey. Moreover, efforts are underway to return the head of the life-size bronze statue of Roman Emperor Septimius Severus from Denmark. The body of the statue has already been returned from the U.S. Finally, Italy returned to Turkish authorities a funerary stele, dating from the 2nd century CE and carrying a loving inscription to the dead woman’s spouse, after investigation determined that it was illegally excavated in Zeugma in southeastern Turkey.
Text by our correspondent from Didyma, Glenn Maffia.
Native archaeologists appear to possess a particular predilection in rebuilding ancient sites. Probably at the behest of transient politicians whose belligerent insistence in procuring touristic revenues are in stark contrast to historical enquiry.
Contrary to perceived opinion, regularly espoused, I have absolutely no qualms about visitors arriving in this historically wealthy land, the crossroads of a multitude of civilisations.
In March 2023, the news concerning archaeological activities in the area of Turkey was dominated, unsurprisingly, by the stories related to the February earthquakes that shook the south-east of the country. However, several important discoveries were also reported, including the new rock paintings from the prehistoric era found on Mount Latmos. Moreover, the Belgian archaeologists digging at the site of the ancient city of Sagalassos unearthed a most unusual burial. The burial was sealed with two dozen bricks and an additional layer of plaster. Topping everything off, around three dozen bent nails were sprinkled around the edges of the tomb, possibly as magic talismans meant to keep the deceased person trapped inside.