Reliefs from 5th century BC found in western Turkey’s Daskyleion

ISTANBUL: The recently-excavated stone reliefs provide information about the Persian period in Daskyleion and the struggle of these ancient people against the Greeks 

Archaeologists found stone reliefs dating back to the fifth century B.C. during the excavations of the ancient city of Daskyleion in the Bandırma district of western Balıkesir province. The reliefs depict a war between the Greeks and Persians.

Daskyleion, located on the shore of Lake Manyas, features traces of many civilizations that ruled in Anatolia. In the seventh century B.C., the renowned Lydian King Daskylos came to the city from Sardis, the capital of the ancient kingdom of Lydia. The reason for his moving was dynastic quarrels.

Daskylos’s son Gyges was born in Daskyleion, and he was later recalled to Lydia. After he became the king of Lydia, the city was named Daskyleion – the place of Daskylos – around 650 B.C.

Archaeologists excavate the Phrygian wall in the ancient city of Daskyleion, Balıkesir, western Turkey, Aug. 16, 2021. (AA Photo)
Archaeologists excavate the Phrygian wall in the ancient city of Daskyleion, Balıkesir, western Turkey, Aug. 16, 2021. (AA Photo)

Lake Manyas (Paradeisos) and Daskyleion were two integrated phenomena discussed in the concept of natural and historical environment in the ancient period. Due to the natural beauties and the strong geopolitical position of the region, Daskyleion was established to the south of the lake. When Alexander the Great decided to eliminate the Persians in 334 B.C., he thought of seizing Daskyleion, the center of the Persian Satraps Office (Governorship).

Before Alexander the Great, various states gave importance to both the control and the political and economic administration of Thrace, the Straits, Marmara Sea and Phrygian regions due to the seriousness of their geopolitical position in Anatolia and protected Daskyleion as an active fortress in every period. Therefore, Daskyleion was carefully reconstructed by the Phrygians, Lydias, Achaemenids, Macedonians and even Byzantines as a strong fortress, and its economy was kept at a high level. Additionally, it was administered by famous administrators.

The remains of these states that lived in Daskyleion were gradually brought to light through archaeological excavations. German prehistorian Kurt Bittel conducted the first research in the region in 1952. Evaluating the geographical information given by ancient texts, he pinpointed Hisartepe as the modern site of Daskyleion. In 1954, Turkish archaeologist professor Ekrem Akurgal started the excavations here. The excavation, which was carried out until 1960 by Akurgal, was later resumed by professor Tomris Bakır.

Archaeologists work on an ancient stone relief found in the ancient city of Daskyleion, Balıkesir, western Turkey, Aug. 16, 2021. (AA Photo)
Archaeologists work on an ancient stone relief found in the ancient city of Daskyleion, Balıkesir, western Turkey, Aug. 16, 2021. (AA Photo)

The recent excavations of the ancient city are taking place under the presidency of professor Kaan Iren of Muğlu Sıtkı Koçman University. Speaking to Anadolu Agency (AA) about their work, Iren said that they started the excavation with a team of 30 people on June 22.

Stating that the team includes archaeologists, academics and students, as well as conservators, restorers and architects, Iren said that efforts to establish a tourism infrastructure in Daskyleion continue this year.

Noting that the excavation is proceeding very carefully and meticulously, Iren continued: “This year, we unearthed a 4-meter-high (13-feet-high) and 40-meter-long area of a Phrygian wall from the eighth century B.C. We think that this wall, made of stone and adobe, has a height of 7-8 meters. The adobe parts of it have been destroyed over time. We prepared a project to take it under protection through a roof. We will present it to the Balıkesir Cultural Heritage Preservation Regional Board. If the project is approved, we will put this place under protection.”

An archaeologist works on an ancient stone relief found in the ancient city of Daskyleion, Balıkesir, western Turkey, Aug. 16, 2021. (AA Photo)
An archaeologist works on an ancient stone relief found in the ancient city of Daskyleion, Balıkesir, western Turkey, Aug. 16, 2021. (AA Photo)

Iren explained that the first settlers of the ancient city were the Phrygians. Mentioning that the last place this civilization was seen in the northwest of Anatolia was Daskyleion, he said, “The wall we unearthed is a 5-meter wide fortification wall that these people built to protect their own area. Also, we found a tower a little further from the wall. Our work will continue in the area of the tower as well.”

Emphasizing that they were surprised to unveil ancient reliefs during the wall excavations this year, Iren said: “The reliefs from the Persian period depict the war between the Persians and the Greeks. This was one of the most important achievements of the season for us. The figures on it are Greek soldiers and Persians on horseback fighting against them. Greek soldiers are depicted under the feet of Persian horses. This is a propaganda scene under the pretext of war. We can say that these reliefs are a scene from the Persian-Greek wars, and these reliefs were probably made for propaganda purposes during the wars.”

Courtesy: Daily Sabah

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