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Perge excavations turn 65 with Turkish archaeologists

ANTALYA - Anatolia News Agency | 9/10/2011 12:00:00 AM |

Excavations at Perge, an ancient city in Antalya province, have entered their 65th year. The excavation leader believes the ancient city was an artisan workshop

Archaeological work at the ancient city of Perge in southern Turkey passed the 65-year mark recently and is successfully restoring many columns along the city’s streets, according the leader of the excavations.

“The Perge excavations are the longest-running in Turkey, and we are honored to be working on the site,” said Haluk Abbasoğlu, who has been leading the excavations since 1985.

Perge, also known as Perga, is located in southern Turkey’s Antalya province and is included on UNESCO’s world heritage list. This season excavations started on Aug. 2 and will finish Sept. 15, Abbasoğlu said, speaking to the Anatolia news agency.

“Over 65 years, we have unearthed 20 to 25 percent of the ancient city. The unearthed remains were some of the most important parts of the city,” said Abbasoğlu, adding that among those ruins there are two Turkish baths, city gates, an agora, streets, three fountains and some parts of houses.

Abbasoğlu said the team unearthed and restored 25 columns along the ancient city’s main streets this year with money earned by selling tourist information guides.

He said since the launch of the “Erect one column” campaign six years ago, they have unearthed 96 columns in total.

Abbasoğlu said in order to erect the columns, the team used original marble from the Roman period. “We brought the marble from the Marmara Islands. The marble columns have been processed in Afyonkarahisar and later we installed them in Perge.”

[HH]One of the largest sculpture ateliers

One column costs 1,300 Turkish Liras, said Abbasoğlu, adding that the Demetrios Apollonios columns contain 85 percent of original column material and will be erected in 2012.

Excavations were started by scholar Arif Müfid Mansel and continued by scholar Jale İnan, Abbasoğlu said.

The team discovered a script, a fountain, a god figure, a sculpture and an Eros sculpture, said Abbasoğlu.

“We have unearthed more than 200 sculptures in Perge. The sculptures exhibited in the Antalya Museum are all from Perge,” he said.

“We assume that Perge was one of the largest sculpture ateliers in ancient times. One scholar friend is preparing a dissertation on Perge and its significance as a production center for ancient tombs,” Abbasoğlu said. “We have discovered some tombs that came from the Marmara Islands and were processed in Perge.”

Perge hosted the final process works of sculptures during ancient times, Abbasoğlu said. “We thought that the tombs’ cages came from Athens and their upper parts were processed in Perge.”

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