Ancient Myra meeting ground unearthed
2,400-year-old meeting ground has been found during archaeological excavations in the southern province of Antalya’s Demre district.
Led by the head of Akdeniz University’s archaeology department, Professor Nevzat Çevik, the Myra-Andriake excavations, ongoing since 2009, discovered the earliest meeting structure in the region.
The structure, believed to date back to the Classical Age, is located atop cliffs of Myra, said Çevik.
“I have been observing a small part of the structure since 2009 and thought that it was a meeting structure. Plants and debris were removed from the site after thorough works. We worked on its plan, era and function,” he added.
Çevik said that throughout the Myra-Andriake excavations they have been carrying out, the meeting place was the most exciting finding they made.
He said they were surprised when they found out that it was a meeting structure from the Classical Age.
“This meeting field in Myra acropolis is located on top of cliffs 300 meters above the ground. We climbed up to the structure every day,” he added.
But according to Çevik, assembly structures did not exist in the Classical Age.
“This is why we were surprised. This was not an assembly structure. Apparently, this was used as a field for festivals and similar events where people came together. The 24x6.5 meter-structure, excluding the sitting area, existed in the Classical Age and the Middle Age,” he said.
“After searches and drillings in the structure, two main phases and intermediate phases were found. The first dated back to 4th century during the Classical Age and the second was from the Middle Age. In the first phase, we saw that the lower parts of the structure were built after the main rocks were carved, and as seen from the traces in many parts of the timber construction, the walls were partially raised with block stones. We identified that the rock niches in the eastern part and the platform in front of them served as an altar for the area. In the light of the findings and given the location and measurements, we realized that the structure was used for religious purposes or burial ceremonies for the dead in the Classical Age,” he added.
Çevik said similar fields existed in Anatolia in the Classical Age but this one was the first example in the region.
“Myra was one of the most important metropolises in the Classical Age. It is home to 110 rock tombs and magnificent inscriptions. It has the highest-quality classical rock tombs in Lycia. The fact that social and religious life in Myra affected the architecture of the time has illuminated an important scientific darkness,” Çevik said.