An amphitheatre in Anatolia and other news

An interesting find has apparently come to light in southern Turkey, at the ancient site of Anavarza, near the Dilekkaya village in the Adana province. It is the ring of the amphitheatre serving as a battle field where gladiators fought wild beasts two thousand years ago.

This ancient city was founded by the Emperor Augustus in 19 BC, though there were likely earlier settlements at this spot. So far, the works carried out at Anavarza have shown that it was one of largest cities in Anatolia in the first centuries AD, supposedly extending over 4,000,000 square meters (which seems ridiculous, as this would make it the largest in the world, as noted on Facebook by Prof. Vladimir Stissi of the University of Amsterdam).

Nevertheless, the site does have some noteworthy features, such as its triumphal arch, the colonnaded road (one of largest of Antiquity), and a church of the fifth century AD, built on the foundations of a Roman temple. The excavations have focused on one side of the stadium, equipped with observation towers made of granite columns.

On the other side of the stadium, the excavator are either working on the amphitheatre or about to start excavations there (it’s not entirely clear). They expect to learn more about the way its subterranean structures functioned. The amphitheatre was constructed on a flat oval platform. The ceiling that formed the platform had arches; this is also were the cells were located that housed the gladiators and the wild animals.

Another interesting find, again from Anatolia, is a marble block inscribed with a ‘water law’, found at the ancient sit of Laodicea in the province of Denizli, western Turkey. The block measures 90 x 116cm, and the law written on it dates to AD 114, when the area was governed by Aulus Vicirius Matrialis. It regulates the use of the water coming from the Karcı Mountain; violation of the law was subject to fines ranging from 5,000 to 12,500 denarii. The article on HurriyetDailyNews gives some of the rules included in this law.

In Tuscany, in the small village of Capraia and Limite, two parts of an originally 300-square-metre floor mosaic have been unearthed on private property. The first part dates to the fourth century AD and shows geometric patterns and floral motives in black, blue, and grey. The second part dates to the fifth century AD and depicts animals, floral motives, and a human bust. The mosaic is part of an ancient villa, first inhabited in the first centuries AD and abandoned in the sixth century AD.

In northern Cyprus, near the ancient site of Soloi, a tomb complex of a wealthy aristocratic family has been discovered. The complex contains three burials, of which two intact and one looted. The finds include jewellery, including a nice gold wreath shaped like an ivy plant, figurines, weapons and vessels for the symposium. The objects demonstrate that Soloi was in contact with, directly or indirectly, with Athens, the Persian Empire, and the Macedonians.

Lastly, a nice blog post on the website of the Penn Museum tells about how bitumen was used in Antiquity to mend broken objects, such as pottery and dolls. The article also details other uses of bitumen.

Picture credit: thumbnail for this post taken from the article on the Anatolian amphitheatre.

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