Ancient horse figurines recently unearthed greet visitors in Turkey’s Karaman
Miniature horse figurines, unearthed in the Gökçeseki ancient settlement, also known as Philadelphia, in the central Anatolian province of Karaman, await visitors at the Karaman museum. The horses have attracted especial attention for their intricate craftsmanship and the light they shed on ancient daily life.
According to Provincial Culture and Tourism Director Abdullah Kılıç, the horses figured among the most important rare artifacts discovered in the Karaman area.
“We believe these figurines, which are made of terracotta, were gifts for those who died young. They are hand-made. The horse’s mane, headgear and tail is detailed. We also think these figures might have been children’s toys because the horses have small holes in their feet. Maybe these holes were made to tie something to the toy. The artifacts date back to the second century, late Roman and early Byzantine era,” Kılıç said, speaking to state-run Anadolu Agency.
Archaeological excavations in the ancient city of Philadelphia, which is located within the borders of the Gökçeseki village, were carried out in 2015 by Karmanaoğlu Mehmetbey University (KMU) under the leadership of the Karaman Museum. Rock tombs and numerous sarcophagi were uncovered during the excavations.
In the western part of the necropolis, called the “ancient waste field,” numerous historical artifacts were found in addition to the horses.
Among these artifacts were stone sculpture pieces, terracotta human and animal figurines, ceramic and glass bowls, candles, coins, pieces of jewelry such as rings, necklaces, chains, earrings, bracelets as well as various bone objects. While the sculptures shed light on Philadelphia’s artistic interaction with other cities and the local art of the era, the ceramic bowls provide new information about regional production and commercial relations.
The examination, cleaning and restoration works of the findings continue at the KMU Archaeology Department laboratory. The drawing, documentation and photography of the restored objects are also done in the lab. Once the work on the artifacts is complete, they are put on display at the Karaman Museum.
Speaking to state-run Anadolu Agency, Provincial Culture and Tourism Director Abdullah Kılıç said the artifacts unearthed in the ancient site of Gökçeseki shed light on the unknown history of Karaman and the region. He also said rare artifacts had been unearthed in the excavation area.
“The artifacts found in the archaeological ‘waste-field’ in the excavation area are among the most important artifacts found in the region in recent years. When their examination is done, the unknown history of the region will be written. The excavation is not over. Once complete, the area will become a well-known tourism center I believe,” he said.
Kılıç said some of the artifacts from the Gökçeseki digs were already on display at the Karaman Museum. These artifacts include seven busts, dozens of iron medical tools, studs, bracelets, coins, rings and ceramic plates, as well as the horse figurines.