Assos excavations have been going on since 1800s
Assos, known today as the village of Behramkale in Ayvacık district in the northwestern province of Çanakkale, was one of the most important port cities in the Age of Antiquity. It is one of the few ancient cities in the world where excavations started in the 1800s - and have continued without interruption since 1981.
Founded on the summit and slopes of a volcanic hill at the southern end of the region, called “Troas” in ancient times, across the island of Lesbos in Greece, the city has been home to many societies for centuries.
One of its famous residents was Aristotle who together with the philosopher Xenocrates established a philosophical school at Assos.
Assos was the first ancient city where U.S. archaeologists excavated in the 1800s. It was excavated in 1981 after a long break.
While 38 years of excavations have been carried out by Turkish scientists, new data for archeology history have been revealed, and new scientists are also raised here.
Nurettin Arslan, professor at Çanakkale Onsekiz Mart University (ÇOMÜ) Faculty of Arts and Sciences Department of Archeology and the head of Assos excavation committee, said that Assos is an important region for the history of the world archeology.
Speaking to the state-run Anadolu Agency, Arslan said, “According to the planning made by the Culture and Tourism Ministry, Assos was included in the places where excavations will continue for 12 months a year.”
Arslan said that students in the archeology and architecture departments at different universities in Turkey and students from universities abroad will also participate in the excavations.
“Together with this team, we will continue the excavations. This year, we will make a great effort to unearth the streets that have transportation networks in Assos. We have come a long way. We want visitors to visit all the ruins through the ancient road. In addition, excavations in some places of the inn structure, which we call ‘ikselelon,’ were not finished yet. We want to complete them. Works in Agora also continue. Other than that, there will be time this year, and we plan to do research and excavations in open-air sanctuaries. As the excavations increased to 12 months, Turkish Historical Society became our second sponsor.”
The first excavations in the region were carried out by Americans in the 1800s, he said. Pointing out that Assos also was the first excavation of the Americans, he explained:
“The American Archaeological Institute was looking for an excavation center. They reviewed some places in Italy, Greece, Egypt and Turkey. However, the heads of excavations, Clark and Belkin duo, as well as the director of the institute there, decided that Assos was the most beautifully preserved city among Greek cities, so the American Archeology chose Assos as its first excavation center. In our research, we understand better that Assos is a well-preserved example of a Greek city-state. Because in excavations we uncover new areas. For example, we know that the parliament building is one of the oldest assembly buildings in Anatolia as well as the theater. These are official structures that a Greek city should have.”
Best preserved ancient city
Arslan said that all of the public buildings in Assos had been preserved since the Hellenistic era and continues to be a living city.
“Assos has never been abandoned since its foundation. The village we call ‘Behramkale’ is the last link of this life. Therefore, living cities have both difficulties and advantages. Because visitors not only visit the ancient cities, but they can live, stay and relax in the village culture. Therefore, the ancient port is also one of the rare ports that can still be used today. Due to its unspoiled natural structure, village culture, ancient ruins and port, Assos is actually one of the places that attracts a lot of tourists every year. “