Those of you who follow my articles, or have purchased my book, shall be acutely aware of my desire to once more open the Sacred Road at its conclusion at the Temple of Apollo in Didyma. It is a forlorn sight to be witness to countless foreign visitors peering through the metal railings, or over the stone wall, which impedes their imaginations. Some travel from the other side of the globe to see the ancient treasures of Turkey, but their efforts to experience this particularly interesting site is sadly and mysteriously out of bounds. It rather posits the question, “Why? For what earthly reason?”
Last week I received a most welcome correspondence from the hydrologist responsible for redirecting the water falling into the southeast section of the Temple of Apollo sanctuary in ancient Didyma, Turkey.
This pleased me immensely as there has been a deafening silence from this quarter for a number of months. Though after I sent a number of photographs as evidence for the waters now mingling within the archaeological remains of the Christian Basilica which once stood within the adyton (inner courtyard), Professor Helmut Brückner responded with admirable haste.
It was quite perplexing to observe that the excavation trench reaching down into the depths of the Sacred Spring was in a condition of being reinterred when I visited the site on Sunday. Perplexing, for as to my knowledge, the archaeologists had burrowed no further than 1 to 1.5 metres beneath the surface. That may have been enough to reveal the broken and almost demolished stairwells, but if it were their aim to locate the 'sweet waters' of the spring (and I do not know if that was their intent) it is well recorded by none less than Klaus Tuchelt, former Director of Excavations here in Didyma, that the spring resides at least 2.5 metres beneath the surface of the Archaic floor upon which we walk today. See Tuchelt K., 'Fragen zum Naiskos von Didyma,' Archäologister Anzeiger, 1986. I have also learnt that this depth is noted in the diaries of Knackfuß and Hörmann.
Another archaeological season is now in full flow, much as the inundation of the southeast section of the Apollo Temple is also. It appears that the wonderfully articulate and knowledgeable team assembled this year have no doubt noticed that the aquatic theme is rather of a pressing concern. For their focus of excavation has been correctly identified as the saturation of the stadium section, threatening the existence of the archaic temenos (enclosing wall of a sacred area) and the exciting exploration of an ancient sacred spring within the adyton (inner sanctum).
When visiting Didyma’s Temple of Apollo and its equally fascinating surroundings it is quite easy to get lost in the grandeur of the massive structure as a whole, while missing the delicate embellishments which give this place its unique architectural sound.