Ancient Soli Pompeiopolis to become archaeopark

Ancient Soli Pompeiopolis to become archaeopark

Ancient Soli Pompeiopolis to become archaeopark

Archaeologists in southern Turkey are working to turn the ancient city of Soli Pompeiopolis into an open-air museum, or an archaeopark, the head of excavations at the site has said.

"Our aim is to establish the connection between the areas we're excavating and turn this place into an archaeopark," archeologist Remzi Yağcı said at the dig site in the province of Mersin.

The 23rd season of excavations was completed at the ancient city, which served as a major port in the 2nd and 3rd centuries BC and contains millennia-old columns preserved until the present day.

The dig team will comprise 20 people next year, will help in landscaping the area, and conduct restoration work, said Yağcı, who is also a faculty member at the Dokuz Eylül University in İzmir province.

"Turning it into an archeopark will boost interest in the ancient city," he said. "People will be able to see everything that can be found in an ancient city."

"[Visitors] will establish the connection between the monumental structures above and below the ground. When they enter the port, they'll see that it's one of the largest in the Eastern Mediterranean and that the sea comes all the way to the south of the colonnaded street," he added.

Underlining that the site would become the "focal point of educational activities in the region," he said: "We're going to bring people face-to-face with history."

Excavations this year were carried out by a team of 12 people and unearthed the mausoleum of Aratus, a famous astronomer and poet of the Hellenistic period.

Next year, the team plans to work on the port, the colonnaded street, a mound found in the ancient city, and a Roman bath that had been demolished by earthquakes and other external factors.

"Considering the places we've excavated, we see that the history of Soli stretches back to the Neolithic period, as does that of the Yumuktepe Mound," said Yağcı, referring to nearby excavations of the ancient Yumuktepe site dating back to 7,000 BC and located in Mersin city.

"All archaeological layers from the Neolithic to the present are here," added the archeologist.

Archaeological work has resumed in the ancient city in Mezitli district, which was one of the most important ports in the 2nd and 3rd centuries B.C. and whose columns have been preserved until today.