Cultural Postcards + [Turkey]

Near East: Ancient city of Metropolis opens to tourism
The ancient city of Metropolis, a premier caravan site of yesteryear that was located on major trade routes, will soon begin drawing in visitors from near and afar thanks to significant investments to open the location up to tourism.

Ancient city of Metropolis opens to tourism
Metropolis, an important Greek trade city situated in western Turkey, was incorporated
 into the Hellenistic kingdom of Pergamum [Credit: Hurriyet]

Excavations in the ancient city, which is located in İzmir’s Torbalı district, have been carried out by Culture and Tourism Ministry, Celal Bayar University, Sabancı Foundation and Torbalı Municipality. The historic structures in the ancient city have been preserved to a great extent, while necessary investments have been completed for Metropolis to gain the status of an ancient site. The ancient city is expected to open this year.

Celal Bayar University Archaeology Department Professor Serdar Aybek said Metropolis was established in the third century B.C. and was an important city of trade along with Ephesus and Smyrna. It was known as the “Mother Goddess City” in mythology, he said.

Although the city was not particularly large, its structures were more aesthetic when compared to other cities of the same era, while the marble workmanship used in the public buildings was also unique, he said.

“The artistic style of the theater, assembly building and baths in Metropolis is very important. Structures were built like a sculpture. Excavations show us that the city is bigger than we estimated. For example, excavations are continuing on the third biggest bath in the city. It covers an area of some 6,000 square meters and is a magnificent structure. We see that the infrastructure of the Roman-era bath has survived so far to a great extent,” Aybek said.

He said the baths not only functioned for cleaning but also served as a space for socialization, and that people spent most of their time in the baths during the day. Cold and hot water, massage rooms, restrooms and areas for political discussion were all offered at the baths, he added.

“There were also service corridors used by servants who served royal people at the bath. These baths are engineering wonders,” Aybek said.

Aybek said that even the ash from wood and olive residues, which were used to warm up the baths, were revealed during the excavations. “Those who want to get information about daily life in the ancient age should definitely visit Metropolis.”

Aybek also said visitors would be able to travel through history at Metropolis using modern technology as part of the investments to open the ancient site up to contemporary tourism.

Discovered in 1972

The ancient city of Metropolis was first inspected through archaeological field work in 1972 by Professor Recep Meriç from Dokuz Eylül University, Izmir.

Excavations at the site, which feature Classical, Hellenistic, Roman, Byzantine and Ottoman traces, began in 1989. The earliest known settlement at the site is from the Neolithic Age, and there is evidence of contact and influence from the Troy I littoral culture.

A still-undeciphered seal written in hieroglyphics similar to those of the Hittites has also been found in Metropolis’ acropolis. The Hittite kingdom of Arzawa had its capital, Apasas (later Ephesus), roughly 30 kilometers to the southwest.

Metropolis was a part of the Hellenistic kingdom of Pergamum, and during this period, the city reached a zenith of cultural and economic life. A temple dedicated to the war god Ares, one of only two known such temples, was also located there.

Source: Hurriyet Daily News [August 21, 2014]