BALIKESİR - Doğan News Agency
Archaeologists believe the Cimmerian tribe lived in Antandros (L) for some time. Arnold Schwarzenegger poses as Conan the Barbarian (R). DHA photos
Archaeologists in the northwestern province of Balıkesir have expressed excitement over a Roman villa and an arrangement of intricate mosaic tiles they found in the ancient city of Antandros. But the dig site has captured ordinary people's attention thanks to its links to a more popular, albeit imaginary, piece of ancient history: "Conan the Barbarian," also known as, "Conan the Cimmerian."
Dig supervisor Professor Gürcan Polat from Ege University has been overseeing the work at Antandros, which started back in 2001. "Antandros sort of became a topic of entertainment news after we found traces of the Cimmerian tribe here at the ancient city," Polat said.
Imaginary hero Conan the Barbarian also hails from Cimmeria, although there is no historical correlation with the actual tribe.
Polat hosted Balıkesir's Provincial Tourism Director Professor Abdullah Soykan as the latter paid a visit to the ancient dig site. The conversation between the two inevitably came to the link between Antandros, Cimmeria and the mighty Cimmerian warrior Conan.
"Conan, of course, is a fictional character, but his story and the history of Antandros have overlapped in an entertaining way once the name Cimmeria was mentioned," Polat said.
Polat said they think the Cimmerians resided in Antandros for around 100 years. "Cimmerians originally lived in the north of the Caucasus when they were forced to relocate by the encroaching Scythians in the eighth century B.C. Some Cimmerians reached Anatolia by traveling around the Black Sea."
Cimmerians were a nomadic tribe who lived off plunder, Polat said. "No sources from the antiquity show they settled anywhere specific, and Antandros is the only place showing that they lived in western Anatolia."
Cimmerians roamed around Anatolia, defeating the powerful Urartu who ruled near today's city of Van in the east and also beat the Lydians in the west. "We see remnants of past fires at dig sites where Cimmerians were known to have passed through. It is very difficult to find material artifacts left by them," Polat said.
Soykan jokingly added, "We do not know if Conan the Barbarian actually lived, but if he ever did, he must have been to Antandros."