A unique mosaic unearthed 18 years ago in the ancient city of Kelenderis, in Mersin's Aydıncık district, sheds light on the past of the area.
The mosaic is considered unique for the image it depicts.
The excavations, which kicked off in 1987, have so far revealed also the ruins of Acropolis, Agora and an ancient theater. But the most significant of all, archaeologist Levent Zoroğlu says, is the Kelenderis mosaic unearthed in 1989 in the area. The mosaic underwent a four-year maintenance. “Mosaic depicts the ancient city of Kelenderis. We assume its history dates back to 1,500 years ago. It remains unique of its kinds in world because it depicts something unusual image. We claim that the image portrays the ancient city of Kelenderis in Aydıncık.”
The 12-meter mosaic illustrates a city panorama of Kelenderis and a harbor in which two boats are located as well as a Roman bath, warehouses and some other structures. “Mosaic guides other further excavation works aiming at uncovering other archaeological treasures of the ancient city. Inspiring from the images depicted on mosaic, we found, for instance, a peninsula, ruins of harbor and an arched structure. We are trying to reveal other ruins in the ancient site by examining the mosaic,” he said.
Oldest harbor in Anatolia:
The ancient site has traces of settlement from the 5,000 year ago and the harbor on the mosaic portrays the oldest harbor in Anatolia, he says.
“The ancient city was the most harbor city of its time,” he said adding that the mosaic was on public display in Aydıncık Harbor. It was found in 1989 but is just available for public display as a result of a dispute with the owner of the territory where the mosaic was uncovered.
According to him the completion of excavations, which aimed to fully uncover the ancient city of Kelenderis, as well as landscape works will contribute to the tourism and economy of the Eastern Mediterranean. “We need sponsor for implementation of a more comprehensive work,” he added.
All the works are explored in a book as well as nearly 30 articles and conferences held both in Turkey and abroad. Excavations have jointly been conducted by Konya's Selçuk University and Culture and Tourism Ministry since 1987.
The ruins of Kelenderis were one of the best harbors of the southern Anatolia coastal areas in antiquity.
Kelenderis took part in the military actions arranged by Romans against the pirates, and enjoyed its second high period when the Romans achieved the security of the Mediterranean marine trade routes. During the Middle Ages, the city was dominated first by Byzantium and then the Seljuk and until the beginning of the 20th century it was an important port for marine transportation between Anatolia and Cyprus.
The number of remains reaching us from the Ancient Kelenderis is very few. City walls are from Middle Ages. The port bath was most probably built during 4th or 5th centuries. The theater apparently belongs to the Roman era. In the graveyards of the city, rock graves, vaulted graves and pyramid roofed monumental graves can be seen spanning a period from 6th millennium B.C up to the 4th century. The mosaic discovered in 1989 is an exceptional example in depicting the panorama of the city.
It's tough to find photos on the web of the mosaic ... this seems to be the largest (linked from a Turkish webpage):