Virgin Mary Archeopark to open soon on Zeytinli Island

Virgin Mary Archeopark to open soon on Zeytinli Island

ERDEK, Balıkesir - Doğan News Agency
Virgin Mary Archeopark to open soon on Zeytinli Island

Erdek, regarded as a significant vacation destination in Turkey, has many historical traces found on Zeytinli Island, where an archeopark will open soon. DHA photos

Historical artifacts found on the Zeytinli Island in the Erdek district of the northwestern province of Balıkesir have been uncovered after seven-year-long excavation works. The area, which covers 10,000 square meters, will be open to guests in a short time with the name Virgin Mary Archeopark and is home to a baptistery, two Turkish baths and ceramic ovens.

Erdek, regarded as a significant vacation destination in Turkey, has many historical traces found in the Zeytinli Island part. The archeological excavations on the island have recently come to an end. The excavated site, in which many traces from the 4th century A.C. have been found, will be open to guests under the name Virgin Mary Archeopark.

The director of the excavations undertaken on the island, Associate Professor Nurettin Öztürk, an academic at the Atatürk University Literature Faculty, stated that Zeytinli Island was used as a monastery before. Öztürk reminded that this area was a camping area connected to the Ministry of Youth and Sports and added, “There were 12-13 camping areas before. In 2003-2004 people wanted to have a restaurant here. Since this area is a protected area, they applied to the committee. On the other hand we have started an excavation here. We have prepared documents for the committee and the office of the mayor stating that the building of this kind of a restaurant in this area could not be allowed.”

Öztürk said that the excavations on the island started in 2006 and added, “We are working in the direction of the funding the Erdek Municipality and the Ministry of Culture and Tourism gives us. The administrative district and the ports managing office are also supportive. We carried out a project to the South Marmara Development Agency two years ago. In 2010, the Minister of Culture and Tourism Ertuğrul Günay visited the Island. We have showed him around and he stated that the area fascinated him. After seeing the studies and excavations made, he proposed having an archeopark here. We also want to have an archeopark here. This area will be open to tourism soon. There are continuing studies and excavations still. The land registry of the area belongs to the Municipality; therefore there will be a protocol to decide the administration and management of the area.”

Öztürk provided information about the island. This area became an island with an earthquake in the second century A.C. There are the icons of Virgin Mary and Jesus Christ that weigh 5 kilograms. In the 10,000-square-meters wide area, there are parts such as a baptistery, two Turkish baths and ceramic ovens. In addition, there is a toilet of that time, a worshipping and a monk area.

HDN A church and monastery

Öztürk reminded that the island was used as an orthodox church and a monastery in the old times. He said that they had opened 300 graves and added, “There are three types of graves in here. These can be listed as, the religious man laid to rest with their own will, people dying from diseases and people laid to rest with legacies. Since there is the Virgin Mary Museum here, there are people from foreign countries visiting and dying here caused by age or diseases.”

The island was used as a quarantine island in the time of the Ottomans. “The ships coming from Erdek stopped here and were checked. The healthy people were sent to the land and the diseased ones were put on the island. Therefore this island was known as a quarantine island. Besides that, here we have two kinds of water. One is a healthy water that is beneficial for eye diseases and the other one is a thermal water that is 25 degrees in summer and winter time,” said Öztürk.