Monday, February 19, 2007


Revealing Urla’s underwater treasures


19 February 2007

The aim of the Liman Tepe excavations
is to uncover the complete port complex
and settlement hidden underwater, which
has thus far uncovered a sunken ship that
is now on display at the Underwater
Archaeology Museum in Urla.

The partially submerged Liman Tepe, a major Early Bronze Age harbor town located in Izmir’s Urla district, possesses the world’s oldest breakwater, said archaeologist Professor Hayat Erkanal during a press conference last week. Breakwaters, an important part of modern nautical life worldwide, are constructed on or near coastal areas as a defense from incoming waters that protects ships as well as land from harsh weather and high tides.

Erkanal, who is also the president of Ankara University’s Underwater Archaeological Research Center, has been the head of this excavation site since 1992 and presented information about the excavations at a press conference together with Urla Mayor Selçuk Karaosmanoglu.
Erkanal said their excavations continued both on land and underwater and their aim was to explore the hidden parts of the settlement buried underwater. “Excavations indicated that Liman Tepe had interaction with different cultures and was a corridor for numerous cultures due to its geographical situation as well as its port, an important spot for overseas trade and multilateral cultural interaction at the time. The whole harbor complex is buried underwater today and our aim is to uncover the complete port complex and settlement hidden underwater.”

Liman Tepe is a major prehistoric settlement that was inhabited from the Neolithic Age until the end of the late Bronze Age, continuing into the Classical Age. Professor Guven Bak?r and Erkanal carried out the first archaeological digs at the site in 1979, and a team led by Erkanal under the auspices of Ankara University’s Archaeology department is conducting the current excavations.

Erkanal further noted that their underwater work indicates that Liman Tepe has the world’s oldest breakwater, which was built to block the strong north winds and as a natural part of the city wall. He said their work also included geological research aimed to reveal the physical changes of the sea level and ground as well as the region hosting the Liman Tepe settlement throughout history.

“Our excavations in the settlement focus on Early Bronze Age remains. The settlement was surrounded by a monumental city wall and consisted of two cities: downtown and an Acropolis, which included a palace-like structure representing political, economic and religious power,” he noted.

According to Erkanal, the most significant finding from last year’s excavations was part of an anchor, which is made of wood and metal, and indicates evidence of marine activities.

He added that they had previously unearthed a sunken ship found during excavations and is now ready to go on display at the Underwater Archaeology Museum to be opened in Urla. “We want to list all the underwater treasures of the area in an inventory and also to open the excavation site to the public.”

Urla, a district of Izmir, is located on the road to Cesme from Izmir and lies 38 kilometers west of Izmir. The district used to be an important cultural center in ancient times and was originally the site of the Ionian city of Klazomenai, with probably the most ancient and regularly used port in the world. The excavated artifacts and sculptures are currently exhibited in the Louvre, Athens National Museum and Izmir Archaeology Museum.


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