MERSİN - Doğan News Agency
Neolithic and Hellenistic findings at the Soli Pompeiopolis will be displayed in an archaeopark. Professor Remzi Yağcı, who conducted the excavations, says the city dates back 2,000 to 3,000 years
Soli, which is surrounded by large residential areas now, became a busy port during Byzantine times. DHA photo
The ancient city of Soli Pompeiopolis in Mersin will have a new archaeopark. Professor Remzi Yağcı, who conducted the excavations in the coastal town Soli Pompeiopolis – which dates back 2,000 to 3,000 years – in the Aegean province of Mersin, said they were slanted toward reintegration of the historical area as an archaeopark for international tourism due to great Neolithic, Hellenistic and Roman findings.
Yağcı, Dokuz Eylül University, told Doğan news agency that the excavations – conducted by a team of 37 archaeologists – at Sütunlu Street and the Soli tumulus were in their final phase. The archaeologists have started to excavate soil for analysis, starting with the procedure of tagging ceramic pieces, stones and coins.
Yağcı said the 14th stage of excavation was underway and emphasized their main aim was to reconstruct the ancient Roman city of Soli Pompeiopolis, founded in 65-66 B.C. and located 10 kilometers from Mersin in the district of Mezitli, which was destroyed by an earthquake in the first part of the sixth century.
“Fourteen columns have been restored in Sütunlu Street since 1999. We are working on different archaeological areas for new restorations,” said Yağcı, adding that the street had an important role for archaeological findings such as Roman shops. He underlined that the African and Phocaea ceramics were reflected in Byzantine social and commercial life.
“We would like to open a museum in Soli Pompeiopolis, where many civilizations existed throughout history.” Yağcı added that Pompeiopolis had captivated tourists and Mersin locals already.
“This coastal town shows us how Mersin had a very rich culture in past. The purpose of the excavations is to hand down the past to future generations and to create a historical awareness. We are planning to open an open museum in Pompeiopolis at the end of the archaeological excavations, which will look like an archaeopark. We hope the museum will be put into practice in medium term.” Yağcı added.Soli: City of Pirates
The ancient city of Soli Pompoeipolis, which is located 11 kilometers southwest of Mersin, is a must-see destination. Hosting a variety of civilizations such as pirate colonies, Alexander the Great, the Slevki Empire and Ottoman Empire; Soli Pompeiopolis is a large archaeological site situated in the city center.
With the permission of Roman Emperor Julius Caesar, Commander Pompey launched a major expedition against pirates. In his expedition to Mersin’s shores, Pompey destroyed the pirate shelters. However, he showed tolerance to the apologizing pirates and declared Soli as the “city of pardoned pirates.”
Since then, the city is known as Pompeiopolis. So far, only 40 of the giant pillars, which were estimated to be 200 originally, have been found.
Soli, which is surrounded by large residential areas now, became a busy port during Byzantine times. However, after an earthquake known as “Grand Antakya Earthquake” in 528, which is thought to have been very violent, the city was destroyed to a great extent.