Ancient road destroyed to make way for villagers’ olive groves in Aydın

Ancient road destroyed to make way for villagers’ olive groves in Aydın

Ancient road destroyed to make way for villagers’ olive groves in Aydın

Four kilometers of a 2,300-year-old stone road, which connects the ancient cities of Alinda and Herakleia (Latmos) in the western province of Aydın’s Söke district, have been destroyed by villagers to make way for their olive groves. 

The Association of Ecosystem Protection and Nature Lovers (EKODOSD) has initiated work for the registration and protection of the road by the Aydın Cultural and Natural Heritage Preservation Board. 

Villagers have bulldozed four kilometers of the road in an attempt to make room for their olive groves in Söke’s Tekeler neighborhood. Upon complaints, members of the EKODOSD have examined the area with environmental engineer Haydar Coşar from the protection board, archaeologist Süleyman Özgen and Aydın Archaeology Museum’s archaeologist Songül Erbay. 

The team has detected some parts of the road have been completely destroyed and some parts have been filled. Works have been initiated to bring the ancient road under protection. 

EKODOSD president Bahattin Sürücü said the construction of the stone road was at a great expense by the ancient city of Herakleia’s founder Pleistarkhos. The road connects the ancient cities of Myus, Alinda, Alabanda, Tralleis to each other, as well as the Menderes Valley to the Marsyas Valley. 

“Locals and trekking aficionados still use the stone paved roads that can be seen from almost everywhere on the Latmos Mountains. These roads, which have served for centuries, have been damaged by natural causes due to rains. It was used as a border wall in some regions. The best and most striking part of the ancient road is in the Kazıkaya Tunnel, located between Bozalan and Herakleia. It is really sad that a road that has survived for 2,300 years has been damaged in the last six months,” he said. 

The road should be taken under protection 

Sürücü said the ancient road should be protected for future generations. 

“This type of stone road should not be damaged; its stones should not be removed and vehicles should not be driven on these roads. This way, they can be protected for future generations. Ancient roads are a very important part of our cultural heritage. It should be everyone’s mission to protect them. Thousands of years for a road in an ancient city is a big richness for eco-tourism activities in this region. A true project will contribute to the economic development of locals, Aydın’s tourism and the protection of the road,” he said. 

“The ancient era roads in our region have been detected by Dr. Anneliese Peschlow during research in and around Herakleia. Thanks to the stone road from the western part of Herakleia to the top of the mountain, Peschlow has made many discoveries and has made a great effort to reveal the oldest stone road in Anatolia. Along with geographer and cartographer Volker Höhfeld, they were able to measure the historic 300-kilometer road even before the existence of GPS,” said the EKODOSD president.