ÇANAKKALE – Anadolu Agency
Archaeological excavations in the ancient city of Assos, located in the northwestern Turkish province of Çanakkale’s Ayvacık district, have unearthed an inn complex.
Çanakkale Onsekiz Mart University Archaeology Department Professor Nurettin Arslan said works this year mostly focused on Byzantine era ruins in the inner parts of the ancient city.
“In these excavations, we unearthed the ruins of a complex that could be considered an inn complex. The existence of this complex is mentioned in ancient sources but it has never been unearthed. The inn, where people were accommodated and patients were treated, is located behind the western gate,” said Arslan, who has been head of the excavations for 10 years.
“The complex has its own bakery, kitchen and cisterns. All the needs of visitors were met there. At the same time, there is a chapel for people to pray. Ancient resources from the Byzantine era provide information about the inn but none of them defined this structure and its location,” he added.
“If we are not wrong, thanks to the artifacts we have found we will be able to shed light on this structure: how it was operated, how many sections it had, and how they served. For example, finding more than one marble table in a room would should us that people dined there. Finding a small chapel would show that people were able to worship in the inn. There is more than one cistern and water well, as well as kitchens.
There are also many accommodation places connected to each other but no archaeological excavation has been able to locate such a structure. That is why we are sure we have unearthed a Byzantine-era structure,” Arslan said.
Revealing life at the time
He also said they unearthed residences that had collapsed during an earthquake that occurred in the Byzantine era in the lower agora section.
“This was probably a big residential complex where one of the notable Byzantine families lived. It collapsed in an earthquake and is an important find to reveal life in the era. As it collapsed in an earthquake, everything is in its own place. This gives us information about the materials used in the Byzantine structures and people’s lifestyles. It helps us reveal what people used in their homes,” said Arslan.
“It needs some simple repairs. In particular, the late ancient era structures should be restored. We will do this as soon as possible. We have two big projects. One is an ancient city reception center, which will pass from the Cultural and Natural Heritage Conservation Board and for which we have received ministry approval.
The other project is to unearth the main roads so that visitors can easily visit the site. The theater in the ancient city is one of the most beautiful theaters in Anatolia. Its restoration will start, after which the theater will be a unique place to organize social events in the region,” he added.
Aristoteles lived here
“All ancient sources inform that Aristotle lived here from 347 to 345 BC. He had six students here too and we know that he gave classes. This year has been declared the Year of Aristotle, and we have applied to UNESCO to include Assos in the UNESCO tentative world heritage list. Assos is mentioned in the Bible, so it is already well known. If it is also included in the UNESCO list, the number of visitors will increase. Tourism has been going through hard times in Turkey but we are making the environmental arrangements and restorations to host more people,” Arslan said.