Ancient cistern in Dara an architectural masterpiece

Ancient cistern in Dara an architectural masterpiece

Ancient cistern in Dara an architectural masterpiece

In the excavations carried out in the ancient city of Dara in the southeastern province of Mardin, a water cistern, which is 6 meters deeper than the Byzantine-era Basilica Cistern in Istanbul, was unearthed.

Associated Professor Hüseyin Metin, head of Dara excavations and Department of Archeology at Kafkas University, stated that the cistern comes second after the Basilica Cistern due to its durableness and architectural structure.
“This structure is an architectural masterpiece. It has a 15 meters high structure and a water capacity of 10,000 cubic meters. It is about 6 meters higher than the Basilica Cistern, which we know as the most famous one of the Byzantine period,” he said.

In the excavations at the ancient city of Dara, which is one of the most important settlements of Upper Mesopotamia in the Dara district located 30 kilometers from Mardin, various structures as well as a 1500-year-old mass grave, which is unique in the world, were unearthed.

In the 6th century, Dara and its environs were considered to be the last castle of the Byzantine Empire in the east. It was the region where there were many wars at that time. Therefore, it was surrounded by a defense system of 18-meter-long and 3-meter- wide walls. 

The water needs of the city, where approximately 40,000 people lived, was met through cisterns. These cisterns were unearthed during the excavations carried out in the area where the structures belonging to the Byzantine Empire were found.

The water cistern, which was recently unearthed and called as dungeon among the public, is six meters deeper than the Basilica Cistern, a work of the 6th century Byzantine period in Istanbul.

Noting that the city was the place where Byzantium’s largest field army in the south was deployed in the 6th century, Metin said, “It is a complicated city where civilian buildings, baths, various water cisterns and public buildings were built. It has a wall structure of four kilometers. There is a fortification system, which is three meters thick and approximately 18 meters high. In this respect, Dara is one of the most durable cities in the southeast. Perhaps it is the most important city after Istanbul.”

Stating that the cistern unearthed is an architectural masterpiece and one of the most important Byzan-tine structures that have survived to this day without spoiling its ancient texture, Metin said, “This is one of the most important places in Anatolia where the texture of the ancient period has not deteriorated so far. In particular, the only comparable example of this is the Basilica Cistern in Istanbul. It is one of the most frequented places. As it is known, the Basilica Cistern is almost active even now. Our cistern here, in terms of its durability and architectural structure, perhaps is the second one after it.”