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Ancient Patara Lighthouse to shine again on Anatolia's southwest coast

The ancient Patara Lighthouse, constructed on the order of one of the most famed emperors in Roman history, Nero, in 64 AD, is set to be restored and once again shine on the shores of Kaş, in southern Antalya (Greek Attaleia), centuries after it went dark.

Ancient Patara Lighthouse to shine again on Anatolia's southwest coast
Patara Lighthouse is located in Xanthos in what was once
a leading city of the Lycian League [Credit: AA]
Professor Havva İşkan Işık from the Department of Archaeology at Akdeniz University said the lighthouse will be reconstructed with its original stones. “The lighthouse is the most fascinating artwork in the Patara area,” she said.

The ancient 30-meter-high lighthouse has the potential to become one of the most important cultural heritage sites in the country, Işık added.

“God willing, after restoration, the lights of Patara’s Lighthouse will shine a way for sailors in the future,” she said.

Işık noted that even though the lighthouse is not the oldest of its kind in the world, it still has historical importance for Turkey, including playing an important role in the history of the Roman Empire.

“The Lighthouse of Nero has a huge potential to attract a great number of tourists,” she said. “The government has declared 2020 as the year of Patara. I thank the president for making this possible.”

Işık said the lighthouse had a golden inscription carved into its walls reading: “I am Emperor Nero. I built this lighthouse to greet sailors.”

Ancient Patara Lighthouse to shine again on Anatolia's southwest coast
Credit: AA
The lighthouse was introduced to the world by William Gell, who carried out research visits on behalf of the Society of Dilettanti – an association examining ancient Greek and Roman arts – between 1812 and 1813, while the term lighthouse was first used by Turkish professor Fahri Işık who inaugurated the excavations in 1988. The second excavations to unearth the original stones used in the construction began in August 2004.

The lighthouse consists of two main sections – a podium and a tower – while the tower consists of two interlocking cylindrical structures connected by a spiral-shaped ladder. The wall thickness is 1.2 meters (4 feet). The tower will reach a height of about 26 meters (85 feet) on the podium after it is rebuilt.

Patara was said to have been founded by Pataros, a son of Apollo. It was situated at a distance of 60 stadia to the southeast of the mouth of the river Xanthos. Patara (later renamed Arsinoe) was noted in antiquity for its temple and oracle of Apollo, second only to that of Delphi.

Ancient writers mentioned Patara as one of the principal cities of Lycia. It was Lycia's primary seaport, and a leading city of the Lycian League.

The city, with the rest of Lycia, surrendered to Alexander the Great in 333 BC. During the Hellenistic Period, the Lycian Bouleuterion (Council Building) was built. It is regarded as a symbol of democracy in Lycia and a sign of its ancient glory.

Antiochus III captured Patara in 196 BC. The Rhodians occupied the city, and as a Roman ally, the city with the rest of Lycia was granted its freedom in 167 BC. In 88 BC, the city suffered siege by Mithridates IV, king of Pontus and was captured by Brutus and Cassius, during their campaign against Mark Antony and Augustus. It was spared the massacres that were inflicted on nearby Xanthos. Patara was formally annexed by the Roman Empire in 43 AD and attached to Pamphylia.

The city remained of some importance during the Byzantine Empire as a way-point for trade and pilgrims.

Source: Daily Sabah & Wikipedia [March 04, 2020]


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