Patara’s dolphin unearthed 10 years after its burial
A dolphin-figured stone, which was discovered during archaeological excavations conducted 10 years ago and was buried for its protection, has been placed in the Patara Lighthouse.
“I think the dolphin motif was made for the safety of sailors. It is believed that when dolphins appear next to or in front of a ship, the voyage will end in peace,” said Professor Havva İşkan Işık, the head of the Patara excavations.
The construction of a 26.5-meter-high lighthouse, which was built by the Roman Emperor Nero and is reported to have been completely destroyed in a tsunami in 1481, continues in the ancient city of Patara, which dates back to 6,000 years and is located in the Kaş district of the southern province of Antalya.
The X-rays of 2,500 stones that have been unearthed during the excavations were taken to the stone hospital, and their original locations were determined one by one with artificial intelligence technologies. The reconstruction of the 2,000-year-old lighthouse, with probably 80 percent original stones, is considered a first in the world.
The lighthouse is known to be the prestige project of the Roman Emperor Nero, and there is an inscription in golden letters about who built it and the date of construction on it.
The stone inscriptions unearthed during the excavations and written by the Patara people, addressing the Patara Assembly and the city’s governor at the time, Sextus Marcius, read, “Thank you for ruling the Lycian people fairly for eight years and for adorning our city with beautiful structures.”
While the lighthouse is under reconstruction, another stone recently took its place there. The stone, embossed with a dolphin, was unearthed 10 years ago and buried for protection. The stone was placed in its original place by Işık and Yalçın Sezgi, the Antalya deputy governor and the head of Investment Monitoring Coordination.
Işık thanked the governor of Antalya, Ersin Yazıcı, who provided great support to the project from the very first day.
Stating that the large inscription is positioned on the third floor of the lighthouse, Işık said: “The inscription turns towards Patara Harbor. When the sun rises, the lights fall on the inscription. Emperor Nero wrote in this inscription, ‘I built this lighthouse for the safety of sailors.’ Under this inscription, a dolphin-figured stone was found with its head pointing towards the Mediterranean. I buried this stone underground to protect it. I was afraid that someone would write something on it, and it would break.”
Stating that they removed the stone and placed it back in the lighthouse during the restoration, Işık said that the dolphin was the symbol of Poseidon, the god of the seas.
Noting that those who lost their lives in ship accidents were believed to be taken to the “island of good people” by dolphins, Işık said: “I think the dolphin motif was made for the safety of sailors. Dolphins are animals close to humans. It is believed that when dolphins appear next to or in front of a ship, the voyage will end in peace.”