Mersin’s Roman-era tombs defy time

Mersin’s Roman-era tombs defy time

MERSİN – Demirören News Agency
Mersin’s Roman-era tombs defy time

Monumental tombs of the Roman era in the ancient geography of Cilicia in the southern province of Mersin are defying time. But experts are saying some of these structures, dating back to the 2nd century, should be restored as soon as possible, as they face the danger of collapse.

Cilicia, known as an ancient region starting from the Alanya Cape and extending to Syria, is home to monumental tombs of the Roman rich within its borders in Mersin. Located in the Silifke and Erdemli districts of the city, the tombs attract attention with their magnificent structures.

Murat Durukan, a professor at the archeology department and head of the Faculty of Arts of Mersin University, said the city is the richest area in Turkey in terms of its archaeological trove.

“One of the monumental tombs was built for a rich family in the region. There are also other tombs around. This place is a kind of a graveyard.  Such a tomb form, which is so well preserved, is not found in many places in Anatolia. In this part of Cilicia, we know about 40 of them in Demircili, Canbazlı, Elaiussa Sebaste and Olba. These are monumental tombs built in a period of time from the first half of the 2nd century until the first half of the 3rd century. These tombs are prestige structures; they indicate wealth. There was a serious period of wealth in certain periods in the region. We can say that the Roman Empire’s richness in the 2nd century also reflected in the Cilicia region. The same thing is valid for the 5th century. These types of structures were built in periods when trade was extremely busy and there were no wars. We can define them as prestige structures or the structures that the rich have built to show themselves.”

Stating that a good restoration must be done in order to preserve the buildings for the future, Durukan said, “Although these appear as extremely well-preserved structures, when you look at the details, you can immediately understand that there are serious cracks in the temple tombs and that they need restoration. We can lose these structures during a little quake. The cracks are now enlarged so that a human hand can easily enter there. Therefore, this structure needs urgent intervention. We can define similar structures as archaeological materials that form the tourism infrastructure of this region. It is possible to take great photos here.”