Source: Turkish Daily News
Near Bergama, the ancient thermal spa Allianoi, which was in danger of being submerged and lost forever to the waters of Yortanlı Dam, the construction of which has been completed, will still be a touristic spot after being flooded by the dam's waters because of a State Water Affairs (DSİ) conservation project.
The project, ratified by the İzmir Committee for the Conservation of Cultural and Natural Heritage, awaits for final approval from the Culture and Tourism Ministry's Scientific Committee. The ancient spa will be covered by a one-meter wall to keep the movable historic ruins and findings above the alluvium soil after the spa was submerged by the Yortanlı Dam and these pieces will be displayed in a museum that will be built close to the dam.
Ayhan Sarıyıldız of the DSİ said the ancient spa will continue to be viewable for tourists thanks to underwater cameras that will be attached to different spa sections and underwater archaeologists will continue to excavate the area.
Noting that they developed the best possible plan in order to save Allianoi and that there was no other alternative available, he said the project will be in line with the Culture and Tourism Ministry's Scientific Committee's decision.
Meanwhile, Allianoi excavation head Ahmet Yaraş opposed the DSİ's project. Yaraş said the project would not save the ancient city, which would be at last submerged in the waters of Yortanlı Dam, adding, “The DSİ offered a project which anticipates a one-meter wall around the ancient city. However, it will not prevent the ancient city from being flooded by the dam's waters. According to them, the solution is to cover the face of historic ruins. Their goal never changed. However, it is not a solution to permit submerging the ancient city under water; it is a deception. Unfortunately, they have mislead politicians and the public by claiming that they would save the ancient city. Their project doesn't intend to protect the ancient city.”
Project is misleading:
He also said they would take the issue to the European Court of Human Rights if the project were ratified by the Culture and Tourism Ministry.
Historically, Allianoi is well known as the land of the god of health Asklepios. The ancient city was established during the Hellenistic Age and reached its peak during the reign of Roman emperor Hadrian. It was considered as one of the most important health centers for nearly 15 centuries, starting from the sixth century B.C. through to the 11th century. Allianoi was famed for its thermal spring center and was known as the most important healing complexes during Hadrian's rule (117-138). Over the last five years, excavations revealed two impressive gates, marble stone-paved streets, shops, houses adorned with mosaics, large town squares, public fountains and rest areas to be used after having a bath. Surprisingly, the latest findings, such as mosaics, marble stones and some wood pieces designed for houses, were the most preserved pieces ever seen on an archaeological site because they had been covered with alluvium soil.
The ancient city is in danger of being submerged and lost forever to the waters of Yortanlı Dam, the construction of which started in 1994. The excavations, kicked off in 1998, have only uncovered the 20 percent of the ancient city.