Ancient theatre of Assos set for return

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Antalya’s famous Aspendos Theatre may soon have some competition from the north Aegean, as cultural authorities in Çanakkale are beginning work to restore the theatre in the ancient Greek town of Assos so that it, too, can host concerts like its more famous cousin.

Ancient theatre of Assos set for return
The ancient theatre of Assos [Credit: WikiCommons]

“After we finish the works, it will be possible to hold events for 4,000 to 5,000 people,” said Çanakkale Onsekiz Mart University (ÇOMÜ) Archeology Department Professor Nurettin Arslan, while suggesting that some of the restorations on the ancient theatre would be contingent on receiving better funding.

The ancient theatre is particularly expected to host concerts and festivals during the summer months.

Noting that there were many architects, archaeologists and academics that have come to Assos to work on the acropolis, Arslan said they would first work on the hills of the ancient site, which is 238 meters above sea level and which features the remains of the Temple of Athena from the Doric Order. Six of the area’s original 38 columns are still present at the site.

Many of the buildings in Assos were produced with andesite, a volcanic rock that is very difficult to process but consequently resistant to wear from the elements. The town itself was originally founded in the sixth century B.C. on the site of a dormant volcano.

Many of the older buildings in Assos are in ruins today, but Behramkale (the city’s modern name) is still active, Arslan said.

Research projects

The researcher also said the sarcophagi, literally ‘flesh-eaters’, made in the city were famous throughout the ancient world. “Sarcophagi produced in Assos were exported to many regions in Anatolia,” the professor added.

As part of the new excavations, archaeologists also plan to reorganize the tomb doors at the necropolis.

Restoration is of critical importance for Assos in the long term, the professor said, adding that there were many well-protected areas at the entrance to the village that will be the focus of excavations.

It is possible to see much of the surrounding area from the ancient Temple of Athena, built on top of a trachyte crag. From the temple, it is possible on a clear day to see nearby Lesbos in the south, Pergamum in the southeast, and Mount Ida of Phrygia in the east. To the north, one can see the Tuzla River, while to the northwest, visitors can glimpse the gate to the city featuring two massive Hellenic columns that still exist today.

Source: Hurriyet Daily News [July 26, 2013]

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