Category Archives: TURKEY

Hundreds of Ornate, Rock-Cut Tombs Discovered in Ancient Turkish City

Hundreds of Ornate, Rock-Cut Tombs Discovered in Ancient Turkish City

Some 1,800 years ago, residents of Blaundos buried their dead in highly decorated graves cut into the sides of a surrounding canyon.

The tombs feature images of vines, flowers and geometric patterns, as well as mythological figures.

Excavations at Blaundos in Uşak, Turkey, have revealed 400 rock-cut tombs dated to 1,800 years ago, when the ancient city was under Roman control. Many of the tombs are decorated with images of vine branches, bunches of grapes, flowers, animals and mythological figures, the state-run Anadolu Agency (AA) reports.

Blaundos was located atop a hill and surrounded by a canyon that offered protection from attackers. The tombs were carved into the steep sides of the canyon.

“There are arched sarcophagi carved into the bedrock in front of the walls of each room,” expedition leader Birol Can, an archaeologist at Uşak University, tells AA.

“Apart from these, places that are thought to be used for funeral ceremonies were also found inside the rock tombs. The main door of the tombs was closed with a marble door and reopened during burial or ceremony times in the past.”

The city’s ancient residents carved the tombs into the sides of a canyon.

Some of the tombs have only one chamber, while others are “complex structures formed by arranging rooms one after the other,” Can says to Live Science‘s Laura Geggel.

“These rooms were not created in one go,” he adds. “It is understood from the traces on the walls that these tombs were originally designed as a single room.

However, in time, when there was no place for burial in this single room, the room was expanded inwards and the second, third and then the fourth rooms were added.”

Archaeologists have been aware of the rock-cut necropolis—one of the largest burial sites of its kind in the world—for more than 150 years. But researchers only began systematically excavating Blaundos in 2018. Aside from the tombs, writes Argun Konuk for Daily Sabah, the team has identified temples, a theater, a public bath, aqueducts, a state building, a stadium and more.

“Apart from these, we know that there are many religious, public and civil structures still under the ground”.

Over the centuries, grave robbers partially destroyed some of the tombs while removing jewelry and other precious items. But many objects remain.

They include pottery fragments and coins dated to the second through fourth centuries C.E., as well as grave goods like mirrors, rings, cups and oil lamps presumably intended for use in the afterlife.

Stone ruins at the Blaundos archaeological site

Murals decorating 24 of the chambers remain visible but are in poor shape.

“Some of these tombs were used as animal shelters by shepherds a long time ago,” “The frescoes were covered with a dense and black soot layer due to the fires that were set in those times.”

A conservation team has cleaned some of the paintings, which include motifs of vines, flowers, wreaths and geometric patterns, as well as mythological figures like Hermes, Eros and Medusa and animals including birds and dogs.

Blaundos was founded by a commander of the same name who served under Alexander the Great after his army swept into Asia Minor in the fourth century B.C.E. Originally inhabited by Macedonians, it later became an important Roman city, notes Peta Stamper for “History Hit.” In the later Roman and Byzantine eras, Blaundos was a seat for bishops leading Christian communities in the surrounding area.

The tombs uncovered so far are just a part of the necropolis. Hundreds of other graves have yet to be excavated. The team also plans to conduct DNA and chemical analyses aimed at determining the ancestry, age, sex and diet of those buried in the ancient city.

Anatolian Neolithic Weavers At Çatalhöyük Used Trees to Make The Oldest Cloth

Anatolian Neolithic Weavers At Çatalhöyük Used Trees to Make The Oldest Cloth

A new study published in the journal Antiquity has revealed some surprising information about the inhabitants of the ancient city of Çatalhöyük, an early Neolithic settlement located in southern Anatolia (modern-day Turkey).

It seems these industrious people found a way to convert fibers from oak trees into textiles that were used to make clothes. Based on the study’s results, the oak fiber textiles of Çatalhöyük are the oldest cloth artifacts, or the oldest preserved woven fabrics in the world.

This is just the latest discovery that highlights the accomplishments of the residents of this famous Stone Age city, which was founded around 9,500 years ago and remains one of the oldest urban enclaves found in the archaeological record.

Çatalhöyük Weavers Made The Oldest Cloth Artifacts Ever

Excavations have been ongoing in Çatalhöyük since the 1950s, and at the time was believed to have been the world’s first true city. Originally settled in about 7,500 BC, in the early Neolithic ( Chalcolithic) era, shortly after the end of the last ice age, Çatalhöyük may have been home to as many as 10,000 people at its peak of population.

Over the approximately 1,100 years the city was occupied, its residents built a culture that was quite sophisticated for the time.

Çatalhöyük after the first excavations by James Melaart and his team.

Among other capacities, the people of Çatalhöyük were skilled and accomplished weavers. They produced ample supplies of baskets, ropes, mats, and clothing made from finely-woven materials, examples of which were recovered during excavations that tracked centuries of activity within the city’s confines. These woven artifacts are considered to be the oldest cloth artifacts ever found so far on Earth.

What was this Oldest Cloth Made From?

Archaeologists learned a lot about the Çatalhöyük weaving industry from studying such items. There was one thing they didn’t know about the weavers of Çatalhöyük, however, and that was about the type of material they used to make their clothing fabric.

In other ancient textile samples, scholars had identified wool from sheep and linen made from plant fibers harvested from flax, as the top candidates, based on the clothes-making practices of other ancient peoples.

To obtain a definitive answer for the material used to make the cloth at Çatalhöyük, a team of archaeologists with expertise in this area collaborated on a study of pieces of clothing fabric recovered during 1993—2017 excavations led by Stanford University archaeologist Ian Hodder. These fabrics were made between 8,700 and 8,500 years ago and were still quite well preserved despite the immense passage of time.

As they detail in their Antiquity article, archaeologists Lise Bender Jørgensen from the Norwegian University of Science and Technology and Antoinette Rast-Eicher from the University of Bern (Switzerland) used a scanning electron microscope to closely examine the fabric samples. When they undertook their study, the archaeologists expected to find evidence that would confirm either the wool or the linen hypothesis.

The world’s oldest cloth artifact ever from ancient Turkey up close under a scanning electron microscope.

But their research findings revealed an unexpected truth. Neither of those common choices for fabric making had been used, despite previous determinations that it must have been one or the other. The clever and inventive weavers of Çatalhöyük had instead used a substance obtained from oak trees , which were grown and harvested as a construction material.

This is bast fiber and it turns out this material form was in use in the Stone Age too and it can be made from various sources, including flax, hemp, willow, oak, wisteria, and mulberry. The Çatalhöyük textile artifacts, the oldest cloth artifacts in the world, were made from oak bast based on the recently-published Antiquity journal study results.

“These findings shed new light on early textile production in the Neolithic, suggesting that tree bast played a more significant role than previously recognized,” the scientists wrote in their Antiquity article.

Tree bast is a fibrous substance that can be found coating the inside of tree bark. It forms an extra protective layer between the bark and the tree’s wooden interior. Like the oak tree itself, oak bast is durable and strong, which would have made it an ideal choice for Stone Age and Neolithic textile weavers.

“In the past, researchers largely neglected the possibility that the fabric fibers could be anything other than wool or linen , but lately another material has received more attention,” Bender Jørgensen told Norwegian SciTech News . “Bast fibers were used for thousands of years to make rope, thread, and in turn also yarn and cloth.”

All the oak used would have been sourced locally, and the bast would have been collected as a waste product following the harvest of the trees.

The Communal Society of Çatalhöyük

Ancient Çatalhöyük was a unique city , in that it appears to have resembled a vast housing development project more than anything else.

All the structures unearthed there seem to have been used as homes, and there is no sign that larger public buildings were ever built. Homes were constructed from mudbrick, and they were built so close together that it would have been easy for people to travel from one location to another by simply walking across the roofs. Archaeologists believe they likely did that, since ground pathways have not been found at Çatalhöyük.

Oak wood was used to add various features to these homes, including doors and ladders. The construction industry in Çatalhöyük would have been incredibly busy and resource-intensive, meaning weavers in the city would have had no problem collecting an enormous amount of oak bast for the manufacture of clothing and other fiber-based items.

Taken as a whole, the artifacts and ruins found over 70 years of excavations at Çatalhöyük suggest the city was built and occupied by a highly egalitarian culture, one that recognized few if any distinctions rooted in class or gender.

Houses were uniform and modest in size and architectural design. Tools, clothes, and other artifacts were equally distributed between homes, and it appears many of these items were widely shared rather than being privately owned and used. Large communal ovens have been discovered, showing that food preparation was a shared experience involving multiple families.

Agricultural activity was most certainly a communal affair as well, as crops were grown, and animals raised in the fields that surrounded the vast city housing complex. The inhabitants of Çatalhöyük lived during a time when people were transitioning from the hunter-gather to a farming-centered lifestyle, and animal remains found in the city show its residents relied on a combination of both to acquire adequate food supplies.

The people of Çatalhöyük buried their dead within the confines of the village. The arrangement of the skeletons plus the evidence of burial rites shows no sign of aristocratic privilege or any difference in the treatment of the bodies of men and women . Religious figurines and statues have been found in the ruins at Çatalhöyük that portray both male and female deities, with the latter being far more common.

No one knows exactly why the city of Çatalhöyük was abandoned around 6,400 BC. But while they were around, the residents of Çatalhöyük seemed to have lived peacefully, cooperatively, and productively – and they have left us the oldest cloth artifacts ever found so far by archaeologists.

5,000-Year-Old Toy Chariot Unearthed in Child Tomb in Turkey

5,000-Year-Old Toy Chariot Unearthed in Child Tomb in Turkey

Archaeologists have unearthed a 5,000-year-old toy chariot and rattle while excavating an ancient city in Turkey. Experts suggest that the recent discovery could shed light on how children in the Bronze Age used to play.

Ancient City of Sogmatar Yields Interesting Finds

IBTimes reports that the toys were unearthed as part of ongoing excavations in the ancient city of Sogmatar in the south east of Turkey. Previously believed to be one of the oldest known settlements on Earth, Sogmatar is also considered to be the region that Prophet Moses escaped from pharaoh and later engaged in farming there.

The hill town at the Centre of the village, points out that Sogmatar could have been established before Common Era . The remnants of walls and towers at the hill reveal that the hill town was used as a castle in the second century AD.

Assistant Professor Yusuf Albayrak of Turkey’s Harran University and member of the team of archaeologists that are digging in the area, said that Sogmatar was a Pagan religious center dating back to the second century AD.

Albayrak explained that after conducting a surface survey in the ancient city in 2012, he discovered that it was dedicated to the god of the moon, Sin.

Speaking about the historical importance of Sogmatar, Albayrak noted that the ancient city didn’t include just a temple but also a necropolis. “We found some 120 tombs in 2012. Seven in particular were really remarkable and almost all of the 120 tombs had a view of the mound.

We carried out searches in the mound and ceramic findings showed that this place was a settlement until recently. The tombs date back to the early Bronze Age, 5,000 years ago.

They are almost unique, in the shape of a well and reflecting the characteristics of this era. When the Romans arrived here they changed the architecture,” Albayrak said as IBTimes reports .

The temple of the Seven Planets at Sogmatar, Turkey

For the Children of Kings

The excavation works were launched in the area in May 2017, and since then archaeologists have unearthed many tombs, including the one containing the recently found toys. “We have so far obtained important findings in the excavation field,” Celal Uludag, the director of the Sogmatar excavations, told Turkish news agency Anadolu as IBTimes reported .

Uludag adds, “In a tomb in the necropolis area we found an earthenware toy horse carriage and its wheels. The toy dates back to the Bronze Age and is thought to have been produced for the children of kings or administrators in the city.

It shows us the sense of art and children’s sense of play 5,000 years ago,” highlighting the cultural and archaeological significance of this discovery.

Recent Discoveries of Ancient Toys Inside Greek Tombs

Two weeks ago, we reported another important discovery of ancient Greek toys in Turkey. Archaeologists found several ancient toys inside the tombs of children in the ancient Greek seaport city of Parion, now in modern-day Turkey.

Founded in 709 BC, the ancient city of Parion was a Greek colony that belonged to the Delian League. During the Hellenistic period it came under the domain of Lysimachus, and subsequently the Attalid dynasty. In Roman times, it was a settlement within the province of Asia. After that province was divided in the 4th century, it was in the province of Hellespontus.

Toys discovered inside the ancient child tombs in Parion.

Excavations of several ancient graves there revealed a number of children’s toys, which are believed to have been offered as gifts for the dead children to accompany them on their journey to the afterlife.

Professor Hasan Kasaoğlu from Atatürk University and director of the excavation works at Parion, stated that female figurines were discovered in tombs belonging to girls, while male figurines were unearthed in boys’ tombs. Kasaoğlu said that the new findings could provide valuable information about the sociocultural structure of the period, explaining that despite toys changing drastically throughout the centuries, the need of humans to play and be entertained has remained the same to this day.

Long hidden Iron Age castle revealed in 3,000-year-old ruins in Van Province, Turkey

Long hidden Iron Age castle revealed in 3,000-year-old ruins in Van Province, Turkey

The province of Van in Turkey is home to many amazing fortresses, castles and relics of the ancient past. Researchers have now located the site of castle ruins in Van, Turkey, near Hoşap Castle (pictured), which date back to the early Iron Age .

According to Archaeology News Network , the site is situated about 80 kilometers (50 miles) from the Yurtbaşı neighbourhood of Gürpınar district.

Village head İrfan Yücel, and Yüzüncü Yıl University (YYÜ) History of Art Department Professor Mehmet Top revealed the 3,000-year-old ruins, located on a high hill reached by way of a challenging hour-long hike.

Excavations have been ongoing on nearby Hoşap Castle since 2007, and both the ruins of the new site – referred to as Derbend Castle – and cultural artifacts have been found. Professor Top recently collected pottery pieces for study.

Mehmet Top said of the discovery, “My examinations showed that this castle might be from the early Iron Age. The remains of stones and ceramic pieces on the ground prove that this place was a settlement. Probably it was a tableland settlement.

Traces show us that it dates back to the pre-Urartian era, namely the early Iron Age. This age starts in 1200-1300 B.C. and continues through 1800 B.C. We already know that castle architecture began in this era and continued later on.”

These early fortresses and castles were often built on heights overlooking villages, valleys and plateaus. Many of the still-standing castles were built later, during the Urartian kingdom (860 B.C.–590 B.C.) and were used for regional control, rather than for defense against foreign invaders. The eastern province of Van was the center of the Urartu civilization.

The notable Fortress of Van (Van Citadel) is a massive stone fortification built in the 8th and 7th centuries B.C. Sections of the walls are still standing, and it hosts an ancient inscription by Xerxes the Great.

Top of Castle Van in Turkey.
Cuneiform inscription by Xerxes the Great on the cliffs below Van castle. It’s several meters tall and wide, 25 centuries old, and the message comes from the Persian king Xerxes .
Van Fortress, Turkey.
Van Fortess , seven kilometers from the city center, overlooking the valley below.

Hurriyet Daily News writes that preliminary examinations have been made on the newly discovered Derbend Castle, and the Van Museum has been informed about the ancient site.

The castle requires further documentation to continue plans for restoration and preservation. Work on this will begin soon, says Mehmet Top.

Ancestor’ of Mediterranean mosaics discovered in Turkey

Ancestor’ of Mediterranean mosaics discovered in Turkey

The discovery of a 3,500-year-old paving stone, described as the “ancestor” of Mediterranean mosaics, offers illuminating details into the daily lives of the mysterious Bronze Age Hittites.

The assembly of over 3,000 stones was unearthed in the remains of a 15th century BC Hittite temple, 700 years before the oldest known mosaics of ancient Greece.

The assembly of over 3,000 stones—in natural shades of beige, red and black, and arranged in triangles and curves—was unearthed in the remains of a 15th century BC Hittite temple, 700 years before the oldest known mosaics of ancient Greece.

“It is the ancestor of the classical period of mosaics that are obviously more sophisticated. This is a sort of first attempt to do it,” says Anacleto D’Agostino, excavation director of Usakli Hoyuk, near Yozgat, in central Turkey.

At the site three hours from Turkey’s capital Ankara, first located in 2018, Turkish and Italian archaeologists painstakingly use shovels and brushes to learn more about the towns of the Hittites, one of the most powerful kingdoms in ancient Anatolia.

“For the first time, people felt the necessity to produce some geometric patterns and to do something different from a simple pavement,” D’Agostino says.

Turkish and Italian archaeologists painstakingly use shovels and brushes to discover more about the powerful Hittite kingdom.

“Maybe we are dealing with a genius? Maybe not. It was maybe a man who said ‘build me a floor’ and he decided to do something weird?”

The discovery was made opposite Kerkenes mountain and the temple where the mosaic is located was dedicated to Teshub, the storm god worshipped by the Hittites, equivalent to Zeus for the ancient Greeks.

“Probably here the priests were looking at the picture of Kerkenes mountain for some rituals and so on,” D’Agostino adds.

Lost city’s treasures?

The archaeologists this week also discovered ceramics and the remains of a palace, supporting the theory that Usakli Hoyuk could indeed be the lost city of Zippalanda.

A significant place of worship of the storm god and frequently mentioned in Hittite tablets, Zippalanda’s exact location has remained a mystery.

“Researchers agree that Usakli Hoyuk is one of two most likely sites. With the discovery of the palace remains alongside the luxurious ceramics and glassware, the likelihood has increased,” D’Agostino says.“We only need the ultimate proof: a tablet carrying the name of the city.”

The treasures of Usakli Hoyuk, for which cedar trees were brought from Lebanon to build temples and palaces, were swallowed up like the rest of the Hittite world towards the end of the Bronze AgeThe reason is still not known.But some believe a change in climate accompanied by social unrest is the cause.

Excavation director Anacleto D’Agostino describes the discovery as ‘the ancestor of the classical period of mosaics’

‘Spiritual connection’

Nearly 3,000 years after their disappearance, the Hittites continue to inhabit Turkish imagination.

A Hittite figure representing the sun is Ankara’s symbol. And in the 1930s, the founder of the modern Turkish republic, Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, presented Turks as the direct descendants of the Hittites.

“I don’t know if we can find a connection between ancient Hittites and people living here now. Centuries and millenia have passed, and people moved from one place to another,” D’Agostino says.

“But I would like to imagine that some sort of spiritual connection exists.”

In an attempt to honour this connection, the excavation team recreated Hittite culinary traditions, trying ancient recipes on ceramics produced as they would have been at the time using the same technique and clay.

The mosaics are in natural shades of beige, red and black, and arranged in triangles and curves.
The temple at the site in central Turkey was dedicated to the storm god Teshub.

“We reproduced the Hittite ceramics with the clay found in the village where the site is located: we baked dates and bread with them as the Hittites used to eat,” says Valentina Orsi, co-director of the excavation.

Ancient Aramaic Incantation Describes ‘Devourer’ that Brings ‘Fire’ to Victims

Ancient Aramaic Incantation Describes ‘Devourer’ that Brings ‘Fire’ to Devourer’ that Brings ‘Fire’ to Victims

A 2,800-year-old incantation, written in Aramaic, describes the capture of a creature called the “devourer” said to be able to produce “fire.”

Discovered in August 2022 within a small building, possibly a shrine, at the site of Zincirli (called “Sam’al” in ancient times), in Turkey, the incantation is inscribed on a stone cosmetic container.

The ancient incantation had illustrations of animals such as scorpions on the front and back

Written by a man who practiced magic who is called “Rahim son of Shadadan,” the incantation “describes the seizure of a threatening creature [called] the ‘devourer,'” wrote Madadh Richey and Dennis Pardee in the abstract of a presentation they gave recently at the Society of Biblical Literature annual meeting. That event took place in Denver between Nov 17 and 21.

The blood of the devourer was used to treat someone who appears to have been suffering from the “fire” of the devourer, said Richey, a doctoral student in the Department of Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations at the University of Chicago.

It’s not clear whether the blood was given to the afflicted person in a potion that could be swallowed or whether it was smeared onto their body, Richey told . [Cracking Codices: 10 of the Most Mysterious Ancient Manuscripts]

“Accompanying the text are illustrations of various creatures, including what appears to be a centipede, a scorpion and a fish,” wrote Richey and Pardee, who is the Henry Crown professor of Hebrew studies at the University of Chicago, in the abstract. The illustrations are found on both sides of the cosmetic container.

The vessel would have originally stored makeup, and it appears to have been reused for the purpose of writing this incantation, said Virginia Herrmann, who is co-director of the Chicago-Tübingen Expedition to Zincirli, the team that uncovered the incantation.

What is the “devourer?”

The illustrations suggest that the “devourer” may actually be a scorpion or centipede; as such, the “fire” may refer to the pain of the creatures’ sting, Richey .

The front of the incantation (part of which is shown here) included an illustration of a scorpion, a centipede and Aramaic writing.

In fact, scorpions pose a hazard to archaeologists working at the site. “We always have to check our shoes and bags for scorpions on the excavation, even though most of the local scorpions do not have a very dangerous venom,” said Herrmann, noting that shortly after the incantation was removed from the site, “one of our local workers was stung by a scorpion that had crawled onto his backpack that was sitting on the ground,” and the archaeological team rushed to apply first aid.

Long life

Analysis of the incantation’s writing indicates that it was inscribed sometime between 850 B.C. and 800 B.C., said Richey, adding that this makes the inscription the oldest Aramaic incantation ever found. However, the small building where the incantation was found appears to date to more than a century later, to the late eighth or seventh century B.C., Herrmann .

This suggests that the incantation was considered important enough that it was kept long after Rahim would have inscribed it, Herrmann said. [5 Ancient Languages Yet to Be Deciphered]

The incantation “had a significance that long outlived its original owner,” Herrmann said. It was not the only artifact found in the small building that was kept long after it was created, she said, noting that a “statuette base of a crouching lion made of polished black stone with red inlaid eyes” was also discovered there.

That lion figure appears to have been made in the 10th or ninth century B.C. The statuette base may have “once supported a metal figurine of a striding deity,” Herrmann added.

Sam’al, where the building is located, was the capital of a small Aramaean kingdom that flourished between roughly 900 B.C. and 720 B.C., said Herrmann, noting that the city was seized by the Assyrians around 720 B.C.

2,000-Year-Old Terracotta Figurines of Deities, Mortals, Animals Found in Turkey

2,000-Year-Old Terracotta Figurines of Deities, Mortals, Animals Found in Turkey

Some of the petite sculptures still bear traces of the pigments used to decorate them.

A number of terracotta heads were found separated from the rest of their bodies.

Turkish archaeologists studying the ruins of the ancient town of Myra have found more than 50 terracotta figurines depicting humans, gods and animals.

The team, working on behalf of Akdeniz University and Turkey’s Ministry of Culture and Tourism, excavated the town’s 12,000 seat Roman-era theater and an older, smaller theater located below it this past summer.

They found the figurines in the older structure, which dates to the Hellenistic period (spanning Alexander the Great’s death in 323 B.C to the rise of the Roman Empire around 31 B.C.).

Dig leader Nevzat Çevik, an archaeologist at Akdeniz, tells  Yasemin Saplakoglu that the art’s discovery was “an unexpected big surprise.”

He adds, “It is as if the people of ancient Myra were resurrected and ran through the time tunnel all together and came to our day.”

The statuettes, each standing just a few inches tall, include rams, horsemen, women with children and a boy carrying fruit, as well as mythic figures like Leto, Artemis, Apollo and Heracles.

Çevik tells the Demirören News Agency that some of the figures still bear traces of the red, blue and pink pigments used to paint them.

“The fact that the dyes on them are partially preserved shows us the color of clothes they wore in their time,” he says.

In addition to the terracotta figures, the team found ceramic, bronze, lead and silver artifacts scattered around the Hellenistic theater.

The figurines depict gods, humans and animals.
Rock-cut tombs in Myra

Myra, located near the mouth of the Andriacus River on the southern coast of modern-day Turkey, was an important Mediterranean port city for thousands of years, falling under the control of different regional forces over the centuries.

Per Encyclopedia Britannica, it was one of the most important towns in ancient Lycia, a confederation of maritime cities dating back in some form to the 14th century B.C. In the sixth century B.C., Persian forces conquered Lycia, which later came under Roman control before becoming its own Roman province around the fourth century A.D.

Among Myra’s best-known features are rock-cut tombs, many of which look like wooden houses and shrines, carved into its hills between the fifth and third centuries B.C. The city’s huge Roman theater, built in the third century A.D., is known as one of the most impressive in Anatolia.

The Hurriyet Daily News notes that excavations at the site have been ongoing for more than a decade. Over the summer, project coordinators brought dozens of researchers and workers to the site in Antalya’s Demre district.

“I can say that the excavations we carried out in the Myra Ancient City Theater this summer gave one of the most important gifts of the year to Anatolian archaeology,” Çevik tells Hurriyet.

In addition to many complete figurines, Live Science reports that the team found more than 50 heads without bodies—discoveries that suggest more artifacts are still waiting to be discovered.

For now, the team is continuing to piece together remnants of additional figurines. It plans to share them with the Museum of Lycian Civilizations in Demre.

Astonished Archaeologists Find Roman Colosseum Replica in Anatolia, Turkey

Astonished Archaeologists Find Roman Colosseum Replica in Anatolia, Turkey

While exploring the site of the ancient city of Mastaura in western Turkey last summer, archaeologists discovered something remarkable. Partially buried in the earth and further obscured beneath trees and bushes, they were able to identify the unmistakable outline of a large, circular amphitheater , built in the same distinctive shape as the famed Colosseum in Rome.

Initial excavations quickly confirmed the truth. Hidden in an area currently occupied by olive and fig groves, the archaeological team from Adnan Menderes University in Aydin, Turkey had indeed found the remains of a Colosseum replica, which had been constructed to host entertainment spectacles during a time when Anatolia (modern Turkey) was a part of the Roman Empire.

Like its renowned counterpart in the empire’s capital city, the newly found Colosseum replica would also have hosted bloody battles that pitted man-against-man, man-against-beast, and animal-against-animal.

Amazingly, the Colosseum replica was found to be largely intact, protected from decay and destruction by its earthen and vegetative cover.

The ruins of Roman amphitheaters have been found in Turkish territory before. But only traces of these ancient structures remain, due to natural erosive forces and the ravages of looters.

Turkey’s Colosseum Replica

“There is no previous example of such an amphitheater in Anatolia and its immediate surroundings,” declared archaeologist Sedat Akkurnaz , the Mastaura excavation team leader. “It is the only example that has survived in this very solid way.”

“Most of the amphitheatre is under the ground,” he continued. “The sections under the ground are very well preserved. It is solid as if it was just built.”

Searching through the stadium’s subterranean sections, the archaeologists found many structurally sound and well-preserved rooms, which would have been occupied by gladiators, important guests, venue administrators, and event planners.

Arched entryways and vaulted ceilings revealed an indisputable link to the signature construction style of Roman architects , who set standards that loyal provincial authorities did their best to emulate.

The circular design of the Mastaura amphitheater is relatively unique. Most Roman amphitheaters were built in a half-moon or semi-circular shape, but it seems the architects of this particular structure were anxious to demonstrate their fealty to the classic design principles established by the builders of the Colosseum in Rome in the first century AD.

The dimensions of this long-lost building are quite impressive. It measures approximately 330 feet (100 meters) in diameter and features walls that are 50 feet (15 meters) tall at their highest points. While precise calculations of seating capacity are difficult to obtain, Akkurnaz estimates that the amphitheater could have held between 15,000 and 20,000 people when it was fully packed.

This is dwarfed by the 50,000 to 70,000 seat capacity of the Colosseum in Rome, but would have been perfectly suitable for the less densely populated regions of Anatolia.

The Decline Of The Roman Empire And The Colosseum Replica

The cascade of troubles that hit the Romans and the Anatolians in the third century AD included barbarian invasions, civil warfare and unrest, peasant rebellions, and the Antonine Plague of measles or smallpox that swept across Roman lands and left millions of dead bodies in its wake.

This confluence of factors, plus political mismanagement in general, plunged the Empire into a prolonged economic depression that caused a major decline in the fortunes of the cities Anatolia and the province of Asia in particular. This region of the Empire never again came close to matching its peak prosperity, and in the fourth century it was divided up into multiple smaller provinces.

The amphitheater at Mastaura was obviously constructed with the expectation that the good times would continue. Given the economic troubles that beset the region sometime shortly after its completion, this grand edifice may have sat empty and unused for much of the time, since the spectacles it was designed to host would have been too costly for financially-strapped promoters to sponsor. In the economically challenged post-Severan era, this newly built structure may have been dismissed as wasteful expenditure and a sign of Roman decadence.

Preservation Work to Continue in the Coming Months

During the remainder of 2022, the archaeologists who unearthed the Mastaura amphitheater will begin conservation and preservation work on its most vulnerable sections.

After that process is complete, Akkurnaz and his team will launch a series of geophysical surveys at the site, to gain more information about what the structure looks like underground.

In addition to the support they’re receiving from the local government of the nearby town of Nazilli, the archaeologists are also cooperating closely with Turkey’s Ministry of Culture and Tourism on this important excavation project.

Archaeologists Unfold World’s Largest Underground City in Turkey

Archaeologists Unfold World’s Largest Underground City in Turkey

In ancient Cappadocia, now part of modern day Turkey, the people who lived there dug incredible, honeycomb-esque cities into the soft rock—underground complexes that could go stories deep.

The newfound ruins could outshine their neighbor, the underground city of Derinkuyu

The remnants of these underground hives are scattered through the region, and the most recently discovered of these ruins are also some of the most impressive.

In 2022, a crew of demolition workers inadvertently uncovered a network of tunnels near Neveshir, Turkey, and now that archeologists have given this find a deeper look, they think it could turn out to be the most extensive underground city ever known. 

Today, one of the area’s biggest attractions is Derinkuyu, a historic subsurface town big enough to have housed 20,000 people, with additional space for livestock and food stores. But the new findings suggest the recently unearthed settlement could be a third larger, suddenly making Derinkuyu look like a humdrum ‘burb.

“Geo-radiation scanning suggests the multilevel settlement is the size of about 65 football pitches, and is likely to include living spaces, kitchens, wineries, chapels, and staircases.” Geophysicists estimate the site is nearly five million square feet (460,000 square meters) and think it contains corridors as deep as 371 feet. The scientists date the ruins back 5,000 years. 

The site was found when a crew demolished 1,500 buildings on top of it, as part of an urban renewal project. But now Neveshir’s mayor wants to focus the city’s development efforts elsewhere.

And, who knows—maybe the builders of the new housing complex will have hit upon some fresh inspirations, and soon the people over there will soon be living underground, too.

4,000-Year-Old Hidden Tunnel Discovered in Ancient Castle in Turkey

4,000-Year-Old Hidden Tunnel Discovered in Ancient Castle in Turkey

In Turkey, Central Anatolia, a Hittite castle secret tunnel was excavated. The tunnel is about 4,000 years old and is part of the castle of Geval Castle. Nearly 150 meters of the tunnel was dug and investigated at this point; the rest is sealed off with a vault.

Geval Castle, where the Secret Tunnel of Hittite castle was found, is at the peak of Takkei Mountain, at 1,700 meters , some 7 kilometres west of the modern-days town of Konya, which is Turkey ‘s 7th city in Turkey by population. However, in ancient times, Konya had several civilizations, thanks to its strategic placement and a 360-degree view of the area around it.

Thanks to this, not only Hittites, but also Ancient Greeks, Romans, Byzantines, Seljuks and the Ottoman Empire used Geval Castle as an important defensive structure.

The archaeological excavation in Geval castle began in 2022 and has been supervised by the Turkish Ministry of Culture, the Municipality of Seljuk, the University of Necmettin Erbakan and the General Directorate of the Konya Museum.

According to a prominent archeology site in Turkey, Arkeolo Jihaber, the team of excavator has managed to find numerous items from the Hittite era, including some ceramic pots and pans, several different metal objects and an assortment of different small hand goods. In 2022, the archeologists have unearthed a temple from this era and various rock-hewn cisterns.

The Hittite castle secret tunnel that the archeologists have found now dates back about four thousand years and was in all likelihood used extensively in the Seljuk era between 11th and 12th century AD.

According to Çaycı, the team of archeologists will take a break from investigating the secret tunnel and the Geval Castle itself and will continue excavations in May next year.

This Hittite castle secret tunnel could be of great help to the archeologists and historians in understanding the Hittites and their history a bit better.

The Hittites were an ancient people residing mostly in Anatolia, modern-day Turkey, who founded an empire at Hattusa (north-central Anatolia) around the 18BC.

The Hittite empire reached its peak in 14th century BC under the rule of Suppoluliuma First and Mursili Second, when it covered the majority of Asia Minor and parts of Upper Mesopotamia and Levant.

Thanks to their use of iron, the Hittites were able to launch several very successful military campaigns to nearby regions. However, iron wasn’t the only reason for their successes in the battlefield. The Hittites also used the light chariot. These were powered by two horses and were narrower and faster than what the other nations had at the time.

The Hittite empire reached its peak in 14th century BC under the rule of Suppoluliuma First and Mursili Second, when it covered the majority of Asia Minor and parts of Upper Mesopotamia and Levant. At one point, a few years after the battle at Kadesh (1275 BC), the daughter of the Hittite king Hattusilis the Third married the Egyptian pharaoh Ramses Second.

Following this, civil wars and rivaling claims to the throne weakened the Hittite Empire, until it finally collapsed around 1160 BC into several independent “Neo-Hittite” city-states, none of which lasted longer than 8th century BC. Most of these city-states were later integrated into the Assyrian empire.

Neo or Syro-Hittite city-states were generally divided into two groups: northern, with a Hittite ruler still in power; and southern, which were ruled by Arameans since around 1000 BC.