Issos (Turquie): diggings yield attractive findings

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Archaeological excavations in Hatay’s Issos ruins have come to an end this year. Over a 1.5 months of work, the most interesting finding was a Roman road right alongside mosaic floored area

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In this season’s excavations parts of the columned Roman road were unearthed in the ancient city of Epiphaneia, in Turkey’s eastern province of Hatay.

A columned Roman-era road has been discovered during excavations in the southern province of Hatay’s İssos ruins. A mosaic floor has also been unearthed next to the 15-meter-wide road. 

Archaeological excavations started in the region in 2006 in order to prevent damage caused by illegal excavations. Other findings have so far included a bath complex from the late Roman era and examination rooms used by doctors, as well as an Odeon, which is a place for musical performances, and a theater. 

The Archaeology Museum’s archaeologist and head of the excavations, Ömer Çelik, said the first architectural complex unearthed in the İssos ruins in 2006 was a bath complex from the late Roman era. 

Çelik said further findings showed that the area had been a big ancient city, and continued: “Our examination proved that the city’s first name was Oniandos and was then changed to Epiphaneia. The excavations belong to the ancient city of Epiphaneia, but we are working on the late Roman era. Works that started last year in the north of the late Roman era bath began to offer us interesting things. The first was the Odeon, which was found in Hatay for the first time. The second was a theater that was discovered in the 1930’s in Hatay’s Harbiye district. In the first season, we unearthed the first 11 stairs of the theater.” 

Çelik said the architectural structures, which are known as the city walls, were actually the seats of the theater. 

Roman road of 15 meters 

In this season’s excavations, Çelik said they unearthed some part of the columned Roman road in the ancient city of Epiphaneia. 

“We also discovered a mosaic-floored area right next to the road. We think that the road was built in two different eras. The excavation area is nearly 46-meters above sea level.  The Roman road was unearthed in the 42.5th meter of the excavation area. The road, Odeon and theater are believed to have been built between 1 and 3 A.D. First the Sasanians, then the Abbasids, Byzantines, Crusaders and finally the Ottomans were dominant there. We see it in the layers of the architecture.”

Çelik said the excavations lasted for 1.5 months this year. “During this process, we found many coins, ceramics and sculpture pieces, as well as a small Crusader cemetery close to the Odeon.”

He said efforts continued to read the writings on the mosaics and after, they would understand the meanings of the figures.