Fresco travertines preserved underground
In southwestern Turkey, fresco travertine rock formations dating back 1,750 years and believed to have been buried underground after an earthquake in AD 494, have been recovered from seven meters underground.
Listed on UNESCO’s World Heritage temporary list, and home to one of the seven churches mentioned in the Christian New Testament, excavations in the ancient city of Laodicea (Laodikya) have been ongoing since 2003 under the supervision of archeologist Celal Şimşek from Pamukkale University in Denizli.
Home to historical ruins dating back to 5,500 B.C., Laodicea was one of the most important centers of trade, art, and sports in ancient Anatolia – the heartland of modern Turkey ¬– and attracts many tourists to the area.
The ancient fresco travertines, which were buried underground after an earthquake in 494 A.D., were recovered during the excavations two years ago, using special excavation techniques.
Besides, a recently recovered wall featuring panels showing painted Corinthian blocks, figure drawings and various depictions will soon be on display for visitors.
The excavation is among the most important archeological works in the world, Şimşek told the state-run Anadolu Agency.
He said each recovered block and figure is listed and categorized then prepared for display.
“These legendary fresco travertines were preserved underground thanks to the debris that fell onto them after the earthquake,” he explained.
“In terms of its width and its depictions, we believe this structure is one of a kind in the world. We recovered a wall spanning 52 meters long and nine meters high. We plan to open it to visitors in April,” he said.
Roman coins bearing the profile of the Emperor Gallienus, who reigned in 253-268 A.D., were found in the excavations, he said.
“These coins come from the third century, which shows this wall and frescos dating back to 1,750 years ago. This is the first time such a large wall was discovered. Among the other important walls are those from the palace at Crete walls and the city walls of Pompeii. But the biggest and most magnificent wall is here in Laodicea,” Şimşek said, adding, “People eager to see the ancient structure will contribute to Turkey’s economy and tourism.