Nestling upon the shores of the Aegean some two hours drive south of Izmir one can find the site of the second most important Oracle active during the Archaic and Hellenistic Eras; the Temple of Apollo in ancient Didyma. Indeed, this area was purported to be a sacred place devoted to Apollo even before the Greek colonization c.800 BCE.
Ancient Didyma rests upon the Aegean Coast of southwest Turkey merely 100km from the epicentre of the latest earthquake to cast its shadow of foreboding over this seismically volatile part of the world.
As an avid historian of the famous Temple of Apollo in Didyma, it will come as no surprise to know that I was early to the temple the day after the lethal 6.6 magnitude earthquake (Friday 30 October 2020) to inspect any damage that may have occurred to this unique structure of antiquity.
The filtering news of a possible Minoan harbour being located just below the sea-level off of Tavşan Adası (Rabbit Island) near Didim has created a rush of interest both locally and from my colleagues across Europe. It has long been known of a Minoan connection with Miletus region because of the datable pottery found in the vicinity of the city. Also, the etymology of the name ‘Miletus’ is, of course, an Hellenic name in the Ionic dialect, in the Doric dialect it spelt slightly differently, Milatos. This is believed to refer to an ancient city of the same name on the island we know today as Crete. Crete was home to the Minoan people whom were named after the legendary King Minos. Hittite documents, an Anatolian people contemporary with the Minoans, refer to the city as Millavanda.
It has all been rather quiet on the Didyma archaeological front this year. The Covid virus has prevented the team from the German Archaeological Institute from arriving this year.
There was some initial hope that their usual August date for arrival would be possible, but then I received word that September was pencilled in, though in their continued absence it is evident that this month, too, was not considered tenable. It is a pity as I particularly wanted to speak to the Director of Excavations on a number of topics.
What a feeling of freedom invades the senses now that we have the option of self-determination as to our movements and actions once again. Naturally, there are guidelines to be adhered to if we are to be further free of this virulent Coronavirus, therefore, with freedoms come responsibilities. ‘Caution’ and ‘social distancing’ must be the bywords along this path to safety.