MERSIN, Turkey (AA): The ancient city of Soli Pompeiopolis will serve as an open-air museum or an archaeopark in Turkey’s southern Mersin province.
While the 23rd season of excavations was completed in the ancient city under the leadership of Remzi Yağcı, a faculty member at the Dokuz Eylül University in western Izmir province, archaeologists are working to turn the ancient site into an archaeopark.
“Our aim is to establish the connection between the areas we’re excavating and turn this location into an archaeopark,” archeologist Yağcı told Anadolu Agency (AA) at the dig site.
In the latest excavations, the memorial tomb of the famous Greek astronomer and poet Aratus was completely unearthed in the ancient city, which served as a major port in the second and third centuries B.C., and contains millennia-old columns preserved until the present day. The dig team will comprise 20 people next year, will help in landscaping the area, and conduct restoration work said Yağcı.
“Turning the ancient city into an archaeopark will boost interest in the site,” he said. “People will be able to see everything that can be found in an ancient city.”
“(Visitors) will establish the connection between the monumental structures above and below the ground. When they enter the port, they’ll see that it’s one of the largest in the Eastern Mediterranean and that the sea comes all the way to the south of the colonnaded street,” he added.
Underlining that the site would become the “focal point of educational activities in the region,” he said, “We’re going to bring people face-to-face with history.”
Site’s history stretches back to Neolithic period
Next year, archaeologists plan to work on the port, the colonnaded street, a mound found in the ancient city and a Roman bath that had been demolished by earthquakes and other external factors.
“Considering the places we’ve excavated, we see that the history of Soli stretches back to the Neolithic period, as does that of the Yumuktepe Mound,” said Yağcı, referring to nearby excavations of the ancient Yumuktepe site dating back to 7,000 B.C. and located in Mersin city.
“All archaeological layers from the Neolithic to the present are here,” added the archeologist.
Soli‐Pompeiopolis was also one of the important ports of the Cicilia region in the second and third centuries B.C. During the fourth century B.C., it was under the sway of the Persians. However, the fact that they minted their own coins shows their autonomy under Persian rule.
After Alexander the Great drove the Persians out of Cicilia, Soli‐Pompeiopolis fell under the rule of the kingdom of Macedon and then the Seleucid Empire. The ancient city lived its heyday during the Hellenistic period under Seleucid rule.