Greek gods come to life in Turkey’s archaeological finds


Terracotta figurines depicting ancient Greek gods, as well as men, women and animals found in Turkey. Credit: Turkish Ministry of Culture and Tourism.

An archaeological find in Turkey unearthed dozens of terracotta figurines depicting ancient Greek gods, men, women and animals.

The artifacts, which are over 2,000 years old, were found in the ancient Greek city of Myra, now called Demre, in Turkey.

Some of the figurines still bore incredible paint, and others had inscriptions, giving archaeologists a glimpse of life in the area in the 1st and 2nd centuries BC.

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Many figurines of Greek gods and mortals have been found in Turkey. Credit: Turkish Ministry of Culture and Tourism.

Myra one of the most important ancient Greek cities in Lycia, Turkey

Nevzat Çevik, leader of the excavation team and professor of archeology at Akdeniz University in Turkey, said Live Science that “Myra is one of the most important ancient colonies in Lycia”.

Myra has remained an important site throughout history, as the ancient Greeks, Romans, Byzantines and later the Ottomans inhabited the city.

In modern times, the city was home to a rich and vibrant Greek population who were forced to leave Turkey during the population swaps between Greece and the country in the 1920s.

The figurines give “rich clues to what existed in the mysterious Myra under a thick layer of silt in the first and second centuries BC,” Çevik added.

The archaeological team was excavating parts of a 4th-century Roman theater between June and October 2020 when they suddenly unearthed a second, smaller theater beneath the Roman remains.

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Heads of Greek gods found in Turkey. The find provides insight into life in the ancient Greek city of Myra. Credit: Turkish Ministry of Culture and Tourism.

The older structure below dates back to the Hellenistic period, from 323 BC – at the time of Alexander the Great’s death – to the start of the Roman Empire in 30 BC.

What the researchers found was the massive collection of terracotta figurines scattered among the remains, as well as the Hellenistic theater.

“It is as if the inhabitants of ancient Myra have been resurrected and walked through the tunnel of time all together and come to our time,” Çevik told his team when they found the figures.

There are an almost countless number of Greek and Byzantine archaeological and historical sites in Turkey, many of which attract hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of visitors each year.

Many of them are must-see landmarks for travelers to Turkey, and most of all they should not be missed by Greek travelers, as they are indisputable proof of the long and rich history of their people and of his contributions to Western civilization.

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