Restoration work on tombs finishes in Mersin

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Archaeologists excavating the site of the ancient Greek city of Kelenderis in the southern province of Mersin have restored seven subterranean tombs, the newest accomplishment in a 23-year-old project to research and restore the ancient Mediterranean city. 

Rock-cut tombs at Kanytelleis, Mersin [Credit: wikimedia]

Levent Zoroğlu, a lecturer in the archaeology department of Selçuk University and head archaeologist at the Kelenderis site, told the Anatolia news agency about the restored tombs on Monday, saying, “The stone tombs we found and restored at Kelenderis are of the typical variety found in the area, which is to say that there is a staircase entrance to a subterranean burial chamber.” 

Explaining to the press what kind of finds were discovered in the tombs, Zoroğlu pointed to one tomb where the remains of two adults and one child were found. “Two small glass bottles, a quite broken bronze crown which still had paint on it, and many different beads were found. There were also ceramics, which show that this tomb complex was from the early Hellenistic period.” 

The tombs that Zoroğlu stated had been uncovered near the city’s basilica are the largest restoration at the Kelenderis site since a large mosaic in the basilica was opened to the public in 2007. Due to several cracks that have developed in the mosaic, Zoroğlu says it will undergo another round of restoration work. 

The Mediterranean port city used to be known as Gilindire, derived from Kelenderis, is said by Apollodoros to be a foundation of Sandokos of Syria and therefore presumably of native origin. Kelenderis was subsequently colonized, around the 8th c. B.C., by Greeks from the island of Samos.

The ancient city of Kelenderis was at its peak between the fifth and fourth centuries B.C. and, avoiding both Persian domination and ascending as a major maritime trade route during the Roman Empire, became an important naval gateway to Cyprus and Africa during the Byzantine era. It thrived also during Ottoman times before losing its status to nearby Mersin from the 19th century onwards. 

Source: Todays Zaman [November 01, 2011]

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