Mosaics found in Turkey lead to unearthing of ancient
Monday, December 27, 2010
KAHRAMANMARAS - Anatolia News Agency
The ancient city of Germenicia, which has been underground for 1,500
years, is being unearthed thanks to mosaics found during an illegal
excavation in 2007 in south-east Turkey. Excavations are ongoing
in the area, with authorities aiming to completely reveal the mosaics
and the city, and then turn the site into an open-air museum.
Mosaics found during an illegal excavation in the basement of a
house in the province of Kahramanmaras have led to the unearthing
of an ancient city called Germenicia, which remained underground
for 1,500 years. The mosaics, found in the Dulkadirogullari neighborhood,
are expected to shed light on the history of the city.
Preliminary examinations showed that the mosaics were high-quality
contemporaries of those unearthed in the ancient cities of Zeugma
and Yamaçevler. The first steps have been taken to completely
unearth Germenicia and its mosaics, with houses in the area expropriated
by the Culture Ministry.
Speaking to Anatolia News Agency, Provincial Culture and Tourism
Director Seydi Küçükdagli said the location of
Germenicia was shown as Kahramanmaras on ancient maps, but archaeologists
had been unable to determine its exact location because no architectural
remnants of the city had been found.
He said, “Although the city was very important and magnificent
– it even printed its own money at the time – it remained
underground as a result of invasions and fires,” he said.
The excavations were initiated under the coordination of the Kahramanmaras
Museum Directorate at the end of November 2010. “After the
first mosaic was found we examined the region and registered 19
parcels of land that could be important. We have expropriated five
parcels and excavations have started on three. The houses where
the mosaics were found have been torn down and a protective cover
installed at the site.”
He said seven archaeologists were participating in the excavation.
“The mosaics have changed the future of the buried city. They
are on the ground level of two-story magnificent villas built in
the late-Roman period around 400 A.D. and will give us clues about
the daily social life at the time.”
Küçükdagli said the Culture Ministry also decided
to carry out academic excavations in the region, adding that they
sent invitations to 44 universities with archaeology departments.
He said the fifth International Mosaics Corpus would be held in
June in Kahramanmaras and that the symposium would provide information
about the history of the mosaics.
Archaeologists believe there are more remnants of the ancient city
of Germenicia, which is named after the father of Roman Emperor
Caligula, in the Namik Kemal neighborhood in the foothills of Ahir
Mountain. They believe the city was buried by landslides and avalanches
caused by a severe earthquake.
Research has shown the region likely featured as many as 100 villas
with 15-20 rooms each. Excavation work on the newly unearthed mosaics
so far has suggested they were likely floor decorations in one of