Turkish district set to be moved for ancient city
TOKAT – Anadolu Agency
AA PhotoThe northern province of Tokat’s Sulusaray district, a settlement of 3,500 people located on top of the ancient city of Sebastapolis, is set to be moved to another location so that the site can come to light.
Sulusaray Mayor Halil Demirkol said the ancient city, which has been home to three civilizations, was located in the center of the district.
“After 22 years, excavations started in the ancient city in 2013. This year, 10 houses will be expropriated. Excavation works will continue this year, too. We are waiting for additional funds from the Culture and Tourism Ministry. The Special Provincial District is also supporting the works, too,” Demirkol said.
“The district is located on the site of the ancient city. We want to move it to an area of 500,000 square meters at the entrance of the district. The area has been allocated to Turkey’s Housing Development Administration (TOKİ). People will move to the houses to be built by TOKİ. Their current houses should be immediately expropriated to unearth the historic city beneath. But since the expropriation is a slow and expensive process, we plan to move the settlement to another place,” the mayor said.
Provincial Culture and Tourism Director Abdurrahman Akyüz said the ancient city was very important to Tokat.
“Excavation work was carried out here in the 1990s but it stopped for some reasons. After a 22-year hiatus, excavations started again three years ago and are continuing with the collaboration of Gaziosmanpaşa University, the museum directorate, the Culture and Tourism Ministry and the Special Provincial Directorate. This is a long-term work. It may take 30-40 years to unearth the ancient city,” Akyüz said.
“Our governor, Cevdet Can, attaches great importance to Sebastapolis. The Prince of Wales, [Charles], visited here in the 1990s. Can sent an invitation letter to him to come to Tokat. This place could become an Ephesus or larger than it,” Akyüz said, referring to the site in İzmir that draws large numbers of tourists every year to its massive theater and library.
“It is believed that it was a rich city because hot springs were located near the places of rich people in the past. There is a hot spring around here. The district should be completely moved from here, and the area should be turned into an excavation site,” he said.
Ancient city of Sebastapolis
The ancient city of Sebastapolis was established in the 1st century B.C. The city was included in the Cappadocia region after being separated from the Pontus Galatius and Polemoniacus states at the time of the Roman Emperor Trajan between 98 and 117 A.D. It was known as one of the five largest cities in the Black Sea region 2,000 years ago because it was located on passageways and because of its thermal sources, which are still being used today.
As an indicator of its wealth at the time of the Roman Empire, Sebastapolis had the authority to print money. Scholars believe that the city lost its importance and was forgotten over time, largely due to big wars, destruction, disasters and changes to passageways.