Double highway to the ancient world
ADANA – Anadolu Agency
AA PhotoKnown as the “first double highway” of the ancient world, a columned way in the ancient city of Anavarza, located close to Dilekkaya village in the southern province of Adana, is being unearthed during excavations.
Çukurova University Archaeology Department academic Fatih Gülşen, who has provided scientific consulting for the excavations, said the 34-meter-wide, 2,700-meter-long double highway was the biggest street unearthed so far in the ancient world.
The ancient city of Anavarza, one of the most important centers in the Cilician plain, enjoyed its heyday in the third and fifth centuries and was also one of the most important military centers of the Roman Empire in the eastern Mediterranean, said Gülşen.
“The ancient city of Anavarza has the traces of the Byzantine, Sassanid, Armenian and Ottoman civilizations as well as the Hellenistic and Roman eras. The city has a double columned way, starting from the monumental structure. This way is the world’s first and biggest main street in terms of its size.
At the first stage, we plan to make the restoration of the columns and paving stones of a 250-meter-long part of the way,” he said.
Gülşen said they had unearthed 1,360 columns during the surface surveys in previous years. “The street has Corinthian [the last architectural order in ancient Greece] columns at 2.15 meter intervals.
Once the columns are restored, we will have one of the world’s most magnificent ancient cities.”
He said the ancient city also had two more streets and that they were also searching for the sewage system as well as the stores on the street.
The 250-meter part of the double highway will be opened to tourism in three to four years, Gülşen said. “The Culture and Tourism Ministry provided 1 million Turkish Liras for the works that started last year in December. We are conducting our works with a team of 50 people, 20 of whom are technical staff. [Culture] Minister Ömer Çelik has provided great support to the excavations here. When the works are done, this place will shed light on Anatolian science, culture and history. Anavarza, which is 40,000 square meters, has a larger size than Ephesus, known as the largest ancient city of Anatolia.”
Ancient city of Anavarza
Anavarza was built by the Assyrians in the ninth century B.C. The city was captured by the Romans and visited by Emperor Augustus in 19 B.C. Renamed Caesarea by the emperor, the city in the Kilikya (Cilician) region was later overshadowed by Tarsus, the regional capital for the first two centuries of the Roman Empire. Anavarza functioned as a buffer zone between the Arabs and the Byzantine Empire, with both sides claiming sovereignty over it.