Ministry halts construction activity after ancient bath found in Istanbul
Ömer Erbil – ISTANBUL
The Turkish Culture Ministry has stopped construction activities after the remains of an ancient bath were found.
The remains of the ancient artifacts came to light during excavations as part of renovation works for stone houses near Eyüp Sultan Mosque near Istanbul’s Golden Horn.
Around two meters underground, the entrance to an apsidal ancient Turkish bath, or “hamam,” and its marble-topped brick grounds, along with its arched and vaulted ruins, were discovered.
Further construction works also revealed heating ducts of the ancient bath, its hypocaust, walls and marble sinks, which are estimated to date back to 600 and 1500 A.D., to Byzantine and Ottoman eras.
Istanbul’s 1st Conservation Board ruled on March 14 for the construction to be carried out and the mobile ruins to be transferred to another area in which they would be displayed under the inspection of the relevant directorate of museums.
The conversation board’s ruling became effective as of March 23. But when heavy equipment began crushing the ruins, a concerned citizen recorded and posted the images online, prompting the Culture and Tourism Ministry to intervene and halt the construction activity.
The damage, however, was already done and 70 percent of ancient remains were destroyed.
The ministry later announced that a probe will be launched against the conservation board members who gave the ruling for the construction activities to go ahead.
“As from what I have seen in photographs, the ruins’ architectural elements show the presence of an archaic bath, which are significant findings that will contribute to the historical topography and archeology of Istanbul. Archeological works here should be meticulously carried out in order to fully comprehend the ancient remains,” archeologist Nezih Başgelen told daily Hürriyet.