Kibyra ancient city comes to light
Established at a height of 350 meters and covered with juniper and cedar forests, the 2,300-year-old city of Kibyra overlooks the western slope of the Gölhisar plain. Archaeological excavations since 2006 have shed increasing light on the history of the region.
According to archaeological sources, the ancient city was known for its military characteristics with more than 30,000 infantries and over 2,000 mounted troops. The city is home to the longest gladiator friezes in Turkey and huge monumental structures.
Kibyra features a stadium with a capacity for 10,000 people built with Roman and Byzantine architectural traditions, Odeon (music house) covered with a Medusa mosaic, where the orchestra section is unlike any other in the world, a late Roman bath, agoras, a main street, 9,000-person-capacity theater and underground burial chambers. These important features helped to land the city on UNESCO’s tentative list in 2016. Now it is expected to be included in the main list.
Excavations in the ancient city have been headed by Şükrü Özüdoğru, an associated professor at Mehmet Akif Ersoy University (MAKU) Department of Archeology, and conducted with a 35-member scientific delegation and 25 workers.
This year, the excavation team is trying to uncover the basilica, which is the administrative building of the ancient city, a cistern-shaped room on the third terrace of the agora and the 4,500- square-meter large monumental bath of the Roman era.
Speaking to the state-run Anadolu Agency, Özüdoğru said that Kibyra had powerful economy in the Roman era.
He said that the city developed thanks to iron work and horse breeding. Stating that excavations are scheduled to continue throughout the year, Özüdoğru said that they planned excavations in three different areas in Kibyra this year and work has started in two of them.
Özüdoğru, referring to the works in the basilica, said, “We understand that this structure was revised and used as a church in Byzantine or Late Antiquity. Until the end of this year, we will complete the excavation of this monumental structure and make it ready for restoration.”
Pointing out that they carried out excavations in an interesting building on the third terrace of the agora, Özüdoğru stated that they reached a room in the shape of a cistern buried underground and that they thought that this place was the lower room of a temple.
He said that they have completed excavations in this area and started restoration works.
“Another excavation site is the Roman-era monumental bath. In 2015, we carried out the excavation of the façade. We continue to do so, and I hope that in a few months we will enter the interior. During the next two to three years of excavation, we will have completed the archaeological excavations of the major monumental buildings visible in the city and have them ready for restoration. When we first came to Kibyra, it was almost completely underground. Even the large monumental structures were barely seen. There were almost no visitors. During the past excavation seasons, the city has become an ancient settlement where tour groups can enter.”
Özüdoğru said that the project of transforming the ancient city was carried out by the Culture and Tourism Ministry and that the entrances to the city would become ticketed.
An excavation team member, Associated Professor Eray Dökü, said that they carried out the excavations in the city’s stadium from 2006 to 2013 and unearthed a dazzling structure.
Speaking of the basilica excavations, he said, “It is located on a hill that has been used since the city was first formed. There is an intermediate entrance room at the entrance of the door, and we think that it is a basilica with three naves. We just get started. Three weeks passed. This mystery will emerge gradually as we dig.”