Ancient harbor bath, imperial salon in İzmir waiting to be rescued
İdris Emen – İZMİR
An archeological site consisting of a harbor bath and an imperial salon from Roman times in the Aegean province of İzmir is waiting to be rescued after it submerged in flood waters. Archeologists say the water must be discharged from the site before it gets irretrievably damaged.
“The water that is filling the site needs to be discharged as soon as possible. Moreover, the site must also be protected against rain and weather conditions,” said Ahmet Uhri, a faculty member at İzmir’s Dokuz Eylül University’s archeology department.
“As I have seen from the photos, the ancient remains are valuable and unique. So, the artifacts in this site need to be protected attentively,” said another archeologist, Nezih Başgelen.
The General Directorate for Foundations, which owns the land where the ancient artifacts sit, has released a statement saying that they are waiting for an expert report to initiate the relevant dewatering process.
“For the [ancient] structure, which is already below the sea level, not to be damaged further, regarding the elimination of groundwater, we are waiting for a report to be prepared by the experts of universities’ geotechnics, hydraulics, and archaeology departments, and in line with the [relevant] report as well as the [Cultural] Protection Board, the works will be launched,” the directorate’s statement said.
The remains of the historical artifacts were discovered in 2016 when a firm demolished a 120-year-old business center in the Konak district in a bid to replace it with a newer center. Following the discovery, the construction was immediately stopped.
The İzmir Directorate of Museums under the Culture and Tourism Ministry then performed a salvage excavation on the site. During the excavation works, an ancient harbor bath, an imperial salon, shops and storage spaces from the second century were unearthed.
Upon the completion of excavations, the works of the teams were put into a report, which was then conveyed to the İzmir Board of Cultural Protection with the proposition of classifying the archeological site as first degree.
On Oct. 3, the board ruled that the artifacts have a complex structure, display a period’s socio-cultural life and thus must be regarded as a “strict preservation zone.” The board stressed that the site’s status will be reassessed after the groundwater is discharged.
Yet, with time, the groundwater coupled with the rainwater flooded the “strict preservation zone,” with the lack of protection measures to secure the archeological site raising eyebrows and archeologists calling for an immediate action.