TARSUS - Anatolia News Agency
The Tarsus district of Mersin houses Donuktaş ancient temple awaiting to be restored to it’s former glory. The 1800 years old temple can be a main tourist attraction in the district, according to local experts
The Donuktaş temple in Tarsus lies between buildings. Experts say there should be environmental regulations around the ancient temple.
An ancient Roman temple called Donuktaş, found in the Tarsus district of
Mersin, is awaiting a facelift to become a popular tourist attraction. Work
needed on the 1,800-years-old heritage site will improve its presentation and
raise its profile in the surrounding Adana-Mersin metropolitan area on the
“Donuktaş should be included in ruin sites in Turkey’s ancient regions,”
according to Tarsus museum director Mehmet Çavuş.
“Some researchers say the temple was used by the prophets, while some say it
was used as a temple or a tomb for the prophets,” Çavuş said, speaking to the
Anatolia news agency. The square-shaped temple is the oldest structure in the
region and is the source of many local legends, he added.
Excavations conducted between 1982 and 1992 revealed that the temple dates to
the second century, Çavuş said. “The excavations were not completed. The temple
is made with Roman rocks and it is an important cultural heritage, not only for
Turkey but for the whole world,” he said.
Research from the 19th century says the temple is estimated to be the tomb of
King Sardanapal of the Assyrians, Çavuş said, adding that according to the
recent excavation the temple might actually belong to Roman Empire era and made
by Roman Emperor Commodus.
Buildings surrounding the temple make the building less valuable and hide it
from sight, he said, adding that was why it cannot attract tourists.
“We need to work on the surroundings of this structure. There should be an
environmental arrangement, with this kind of work the base of the temple and the
main platform will be revealed,” said Çavuş.
“The Donuktaş temple is a structure that will contribute to the tourism
potential of Tarsus,” he said, adding that the tourism potential of Tarsus
increases each year and the cultural heritage sites should be renewed and
restored in order to attract more tourists to the district.
Tarsus Municipal Mayor Burhanettin Kocamaz said he agreed that the temple
needed to be renewed and restored. “The environment and the surroundings of the
temple should be cleaned up,” said Kocamaz, adding that the care of the Donuktaş
structure should be taken over by the government.
Donuktaş and its current condition will be evaluated in terms of its
surroundings, Kocamaz said.
“After the environmental arrangements the temple will be evaluated if it is
suitable to become a tourist attraction or not,” he said. “We hope that Tarsus
will gain a new cultural heritage after all these years.”
Donuktaş: Temple or tomb?
At the first sight, the temple seems like a large tomb. It was built with the
usage of Roman tomb stones in the second century.
During the 18th century the structure attracted many researchers from all
over the world. However in 1836 a team of French researchers reportedly used
dynamite during excavations and ruined the temple. After further research,
experts concluded the temple looks like a tomb and could be the tomb of