Wednesday, July 27, 2011

3,500-year-old ancient treasure unearthed in Turkey

The return of a 3,500-year-old sphinx statue to Anatolia and the archaeology excavation of a 2,000-year-old racing arena in Muğla this week are part of the ongoing preservation of Turkey's rich history.

The 3,500-year-old statue of a sphinx, removed from Turkey almost a century ago, was returned to the country Wednesday. The Boğazköy Sphinx, which was taken to Germany 94 years ago for restoration, made its İstanbul debut at a presentation ceremony on Wednesday at the Archaeology Museum. Almost 4,000 years old and standing 2.8 meters tall, the sphinx originally stood on the right side of the south gate of Hattuşa, once the capital of the ancient Hittites.

“The Boğazköy Sphinx has been returned to our land. Today is a historic day,” Culture and Tourism Minister Ertuğrul Günay said on Wednesday during a press conference in İstanbul's Eminönü neighborhood.

Back in May Germany agreed to return the sphinx to Turkey, ending growing hostility between Berlin and Ankara over the statue's return. In 1915 German archaeologists discovered the sculpture, representing a figure with a lion's body and a human head, in the ruins of Hattuşa in Central Anatolia, and brought it to Germany for restoration.

Also this week, archaeologists unearthed a 2,000-year-old arena used for gladiator games in Mugla's Yatak district, once the site of the ancient city Stratonikeia. Dr. Bilal Söğüt, a professor in the department of archaeology of Pamukkale University and the head of the archaeology excavation, said, “We know gladiators lived in this time period, and we know their graves are here.”

Dr. Söğüt said they first unearthed the blocks of the racing arena in 2009, when they were studying the city's northern gate. “Finding the arena was a very important development,” Sogut said. “We will be able to learn details such as what harnesses were like.” The excavation is being carried out by a team of 30 archaeologists and 45 faculty members and students, Sogut said.

For more interesting topics related to archaeology, visit archaeology excavations.

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