İzmit may become Turkey’s second Ephesus
KOCAELİ – Anadolu Agency
AA photoThe city of İzmit in the northwestern province of Kocaeli, once one of the four biggest cities in the Roman Empire, has the potential to become a second Ephesus in Turkey, as 138 artifacts has been unearthed during excavations there since 2001.
İzmit Provincial Culture and Tourism Director Adnan Zamburkan said the city was called Nicomedia in ancient ages, adding that Alexander the Great had lived in the region for some time and the city had been home to palaces, ceremonial grounds, gates and theaters.
Zanburkan also said the region was known as a place of trade, and continued:
“Later on, the archaeological artifacts were damaged by earthquakes. Seven earthquakes have occurred in İzmit’s history. This is why the archaeological artifacts have remained underground. During the current excavations, we are trying to unearth the ruins of Nicomedia. A total of 138 inlaid and relief artifacts have been unearthed so far since 2001 and they are on display.”
Tourists prefer culture tourism
He said that the other artifacts were in the city’s Çukurbağ neighborhood and that they planned to widen the excavation field to reveal other artifacts in the region.
“Our goal is to prove that Kocaeli, which is an industrial city, is also a culture and tourism city,” Zamburkan added.
He said the nearly 3,000-year-old city was convenient for health, nature, sea, culture and history tourism.
“Besides industry, we want the development of environmentally-respected tourism. Culture tourism has been progressing too fast in the world; tourists prefer culture tourism and this type of tourist profile leaves the highest amount of exchange. In Kocaeli, the Ottoman and republic era palaces and mansions have been restored. Besides these restorations, we want to unearth the ruins underground. We expropriated two parcels this year; we will start excavations there, too. The Üçtepeler area is home to tombs of Roman-era king. This year excavations will be carried out in fifth and sixth numbered kings’ tombs,” Zamburkan said.
Maybe larger than Ephesus
Zamburkan said that they wanted to widen the field in the Çukurbağ neighborhood and turn the place into an archaeological site in order to create a second Ephesus in Kocaeli.
He said that the region was very rich in terms of archaeology and an artifact was discovered in every excavation.
“This is a big field; there are many settlements. The expropriation is a serious cost. Within the boundaries of possibility, the ministry expropriates the necessary field without harming the locals. Maybe we will unearth an archaeological site larger than Ephesus,” he said.
Noting that İzmit was just one hour away from Istanbul, Zamburkan said promotional work would also boost cultural tourism in the city.
Late last week, Zamburkan also announced the discovery of the 17-step stairs belonging to a temple that is believed to date back to the Roman era 2,000 years ago.