1900-year-old grave stele discovered in ancient Parion


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During the excavations carried out in Parion, an important ancient port city near Kemer village in western Canakkale province’s Biga district, a 1,900-year-old grave stele (the name of funerary or commemorative slabs in the ancient world) was found.

1900-year-old grave stele discovered in ancient Parion
Credit: Anadolou Agency

Works continue in the ancient city of Parion, which sheds light on the region’s 2,700-year history, with the 12-month excavations supported by the Ministry of Culture and Tourism. Professor Vedat Keles of the Ondokuz Mayiz University Archaeology Department and the head of the excavations in Parion, said that they discovered an extremely important tomb called “Mausoleum Tomb-6” during their work in the southern necropolis of Parion.

Keles’s team was clearing this area, which was damaged during the construction of Kemer Village Primary School in 2004, and found a burial chamber. Continuing their work, they have unearthed a grave stele with fluted columns. The stele, which is one meter (3.28 feet) by one meter in size, is one of the best tomb steles discovered in the region recently, according to Keles. “There are two main figures on the stele. While the first one is a seated woman on the left side, the other one is a male figure lying right next to her.”

Noting the stele also features the depictions of the servants, Keles said: “According to this general scheme, on the left side of the stele the female owner of the tomb, her belongings and maid are depicted while on the right side of it, the male owner of the tomb, his belongings and servants are depicted.”

1900-year-old grave stele discovered in ancient Parion
Credit: Anadolou Agency

The excavation head explained that there is a Latin inscription on the lower part of the tomb stele. According to the first epigraphic analysis, the inscription includes a description meaning “Lucius Furnius Lesbonax, who was freed by Lucius, had this burial stele built for himself and his wife, Furnia Sympnerusa.” In line with the first evaluations, the tomb stele is thought to be 1,900 years old.

Keles stated that they noticed that the grave was covered with five stones while working at the site. “We determined that there were four burial phases here and that a total of 10 individuals were buried in these phases. According to the information given by anthropologists, one of them was a child and the other nine were adults. In the graves, separate burial gifts were found for each individual.”

Stressing what an important find the stele is, Keles said: “It showed us that Parion was used extensively in the southern necropolis in the Roman period and in the previous periods. Besides, we can see that it was a rich city in the Roman period when we look at the condition of the tomb stele. The names on the stele are very important. For example, Lesbonax and his wife’s names are not Latin. These are Greek names. We can even say that the name Lesbonax was someone from the island of Lesbos. We understood that these people were enslaved when the Romans came to the city and then granted citizenship.”

Source: Anadolu Agency [August 05, 2021]

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