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Roman-era amphitheatre unearthed in ancient Issos

The ruins of an ancient Roman amphitheatre have been found during excavations in the ancient city of Issos in southern Turkey, the Cihan news agency reported on Friday.

Roman-era amphitheatre unearthed in ancient Issos
Excavations carried out by a team of 30 archaeologists in the ancient city of Issos have so far unearthed the ruins of a Roman-era amphitheatre [Credit: Cihan/Bekir Mert]
Ömer Çelik, a Hatay Archaeological Museum archeologist and the supervisor of the excavations, told Cihan his team had found the remains of an amphitheatre built during the Roman period in the ancient city of Issos. The area where the city was located has hosted the late Hittite, Persian, Greek, Byzantine and Ottoman civilizations.

“The excavations have been carried out by a team of 30 archaeologists since 2009, and along with these new discoveries, now we will have more information regarding this ancient area. This theatre and other historical ruins are very important, and they will give us information about the culture of the people who lived in that era,” Çelik stated. 

“While we were excavating in the area, we first discovered ruins of an ancient bath. Then we found mosaics in the bath tiles, which led us to think that there might be more mosaics or other kinds of stone that could give us clues about the time it was built or used. And recently we discovered the ruins of a Roman-era amphitheatre in a rocky area where we have been doing our excavations. So far we have discovered the theatre's seating area and we are working to unearth the stage, which we expect to discover soon.”

İskender Yönden, the district governor of Erzin in Hatay province, also commented that when the excavations of the archaeologists are completed in the ancient city of Issos, the province will become a museum city, which they hope will increase the number of the tourists.

“These excavations very important for Hatay. Before the excavation started in the region, we knew that there were the ruins of Issos, but now we are able to see the Roman amphitheatre, which is very exciting and important,” said Yönden. He also spoke about how the excavations were happening in the same place a battle between Alexander the Great and Persian King Darius took place and that when the excavations are completed, there are plans to turn the area into an open-air museum.

The excavations in Issos have been ongoing since 2009. The Hatay Governor's Office and the Ministry of Culture and Tourism support the project, with the government so far contributing TL 50,000.

In other recent discoveries, archaeologists working at the ancient city of Komana in the northern province of Tokat discovered tombs dating back to the 11th century in July. The three tombs found are thought to belong to a family -- a man, woman and child -- according to Emine Sökmen of Hitit University's archaeology department.

Last year, a 2,000-year-old bust of a king was unearthed during excavations in the ancient city of Stratonikeia -- where the largest gymnasium in Anatolia and a gladiator graveyard are located -- in Muğla's Yatağan district. The bust, which is one-and-a-half meters tall and nearly two metres wide, features depictions of bullheads and the figure of a goddess. A total of 725 historical artefacts were found at the site of the ancient city of Stratonikeia in 2012.

Source: Todays Zaman [August 23, 2013]

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