Ancient city Aigai in western Turkey seeks excavation sponsor

Ancient city Aigai in western Turkey seeks excavation sponsor

MANİSA – Anadolu Agency
Ancient city Aigai in western Turkey seeks excavation sponsor

AA photo

The scope of excavations at the ancient city of Aigai, located in western Turkey, will be reduced this year because of sponsorship problems after the local municipality cut support over failure to yield results. 

Situated in the Yuntdağı area in the Yunusemre district of Manisa province, the ancient city has been the site of excavations since 2004. 

The head of the excavations, Celal Bayar University Archaeology Department academic Yusuf Sezgin, said the Manisa Metropolitan Municipality provided sponsorship of the excavations last year, but had opted against continuing this support. 

Sezgin said “limited” works would continue this year with financial support from the Culture and Tourism Ministry, but further sponsorship is needed for excavations to go on.

“The reason why we started work late this year is financial problems. The Manisa Metropolitan Municipality, which provided financial support for our work in 2015, ended this sponsorship this year. Our goal this year was to unearth the ancient theater, which we identified last year. But because of this sponsorship problem we had to postpone work on the theater,” he added. 

“Sponsorship is very important in excavations. We need support to carry out big projects. This is why we need support from local administrations and companies in Manisa. We think the locals of the city have a responsibility in this. I hope they will hear our voice and start to help,” Sezgin said, stressing the potential contribution of the Aigai excavations to tourism in the area.

“We have unearthed the roads and visitors are able to stroll around in the ancient city easily. The number of visitors at the site increased threefold in 2015 compared to 2014,” he added. 

‘We didn’t get results’

Azmi Açıkdil, an adviser to the Manisa mayor, said the municipality had provided 500,000 Turkish Liras for last year’s excavations but no work has been carried out to draw more tourists to the city.

“Financial support provided by local administrations for excavations normally varies between 50,000 and 150,000 liras, but we gave 500,000 liras. Still we did not see any artifact to draw people to the ancient city. Of course it was only one year, but 500,000 liras is a considerable amount. There is a theater there that was not unearthed. Instead diggings were concentrated around the roads,” Açıkdil said. 

“There is also an assembly as well as arches at the entrance of the theater. But they are still digging the roads. So we said, ‘if diggings continue in the roads we will not give any money,’ he added. 

Aigai, which dates back to the 8th century B.C. and was one of the 12 Ion cities mentioned by Herodotus, is sometimes known as “Nemrut Castle.” The city was a significant trade center in the Hellenistic era.
Excavations have so far unearthed the city walls, three-storey agora, an assembly building, a stadium, theater and the Temple of Demeter. 

One of the recent findings in the city was a satyr statue. Dating back to the 1st century A.D. in the Roman era, the vase-like satyr statue will soon be displayed at the Manisa Museum.