3 March 2024 The Future is the Product of the Past

2500-year-old ship graffiti sheds light on the history of Izmir in western Turkey

In the Smyrna Agora, which is one of the largest ancient agora in the city center of the world and has a history of 2,500 years; 21 ship depictions in the basement of the civil basilica, a commercial and judicial building, shed light on the past.

Ship graffiti drawn in the 3rd century is of great importance for our understanding of the ship technologies of the period.

The Agora of Smyrna was built by Greeks sometime in the 4th century BC and then rebuilt by the Roman Emperor Marcus Aurelius after the region was ruined by the earthquake. The Agora that you see nowadays started to take its shape in 1933 when the excavation of the site began.

The excavations revealed the commercial and judicial structure of the agora, which is one of the largest ancient period agoras of the world. Agoras were open spaces serving as meeting grounds for various activities in ancient Greek cities.

Civil basilica of the Agora of Smyrna.
Civil basilica of the Agora of Smyrna.

Akın Ersoy, a faculty member of the Turkish and Islamic Archaeology department of Izmir Katip Çelebi University, stated that the graffiti is one of the most concrete documents of the historical port city of Izmir.

He explained that after Alexander the Great, the king of Macedonia who overthrew the Persian Empire, a brand-new Izmir city was built in the area where the Konak district center is now located. Stating that the area was mainly chosen because of its ability to serve as a port, he said: “The city planners wanted to ensure Izmir’s participation in the Mediterranean and Aegean trade. Also, there are many public buildings in the center of the Ancient City of Smyrna such as the civil basilica. Some of the ship depictions that we encountered in the basement of the civil basilica are made with paint while others through scraping lines.”

“These third-century ship graffiti indicate that Izmir was an important port city. The founders of the city constructed this agora, taking into account the port facilities, for Izmir to grow into an important city and become what it is today,” Ersoy underlined.

Izmir Katip Çelebi University Turkish and Islamic Archaeology faculty member Akın Ersoy talks about the ship graffiti found in the basement of the basilica, Agora of Smyrna, Izmir, southwestern Turkey. (DHA Photo)

Highlighting that the graffiti depicts commercial ships rather than warships, “We assume that these ships were making commercial voyages in the Mediterranean in the second, third, and fourth centuries B.C. The materials were transported from Egypt and North Africa to the Aegean,” he added.

Smyrna Agora

In ancient times, each city had at least one agora. Some big cities usually had 2 agoras. One of them is the state agora, where state affairs are seen and various public buildings are gathered, and the other is the trade agora, where commercial activities are concentrated.

İzmir agora is located on the northern slope of Pagos (Kadifekale), where the ancient city of Smyrna was relocated in the 4th century BC. This building, surrounded by important public buildings of the period, is the state agora of the city.

DHA

Related Articles

3,500-year-old perfectly preserved ancient frozen bear found in Siberian

28 February 2023

28 February 2023

As the permafrost on Bolshoy Lyakhovsky Island in eastern Siberia melted, a mummified brown bear that lived more than three...

Gold from the ancient cities of Troy, Poliochni, and Ur had the same Origin

3 December 2022

3 December 2022

Using an innovative mobile laser method, scientists determined that gold found in ancient Troy, Poliochini, and Ur had the same...

Archaeologists have found a fort that the Romans built to protect their silver mines, complete with wooden spikes

23 February 2023

23 February 2023

Archaeologists have discovered wooden defenses surrounding an ancient Roman military base for the first time in Bad Ems, western Germany....

Hoysala temples inch closer towards UNESCO recognition

7 February 2022

7 February 2022

The Indian Union government recently proposed the Somanathapura temple in Mysuru district and Chennakeshava and Hoysaleshwara temples in Belur and...

Türkiye’s Neolithic Settlement Çayönü Hill Discovered New Tombs from Early Bronze Age

4 September 2023

4 September 2023

Archaeologists have unearthed 5 more tombs dating to the Early Bronze Age during the recent excavations on Çayönü Hill in...

2,300 years old amazing preserved looks almost new Celtic scissors discovered in Germany

30 April 2023

30 April 2023

During a construction project in Munich’s Sendling district, Celtic cremation tombs were discovered. The quality of preservation of the grave...

Rare ivory plaques from First Temple Period were discovered in Jerusalem

8 September 2022

8 September 2022

An extraordinary find was made in Jerusalem: an assemblage of ivory plaques from the First Temple period, one of only...

A secret chamber has been found in the famous Gorham Cave Complex

29 September 2021

29 September 2021

A cave chamber sealed off by sand for some 40,000 years has been discovered in Vanguard Cave inside the Gorham’s...

‘Roman numerals’ discovered on Stone of Destiny ahead of King Charles III coronation

8 April 2023

8 April 2023

New research has revealed previously unrecorded markings that appear to be Roman numerals on the Stone of Destiny, considered one...

At a dig site in western Turkey, a centuries-old Byzantine fortress will be revealed

24 December 2021

24 December 2021

Excavation of vast Byzantine-era fortifications considered to be about 900 years old has begun at a dig site in western...

Archaeologists Unearth Roman Archive of Ancient City of Doliche

20 November 2023

20 November 2023

Archaeologists from the Asia Minor Research Center at the University of Münster have uncovered the municipal archive in the ancient...

The Oklahoma City Museum of Art will launch “The Painters of Pompeii” on June 26

23 June 2021

23 June 2021

A number of collection highlights will travel to North America for the first time as part of the exhibition The...

A mosaic made by the freed slave to thank God was found in the church excavation

10 January 2022

10 January 2022

During the season excavation of the 6th-century Holy Apostles Church, located in an orange grove in the Arsuz district of...

10,500-year-old stone Age Hunter-Gatherer settlement found in England

20 January 2023

20 January 2023

A team of archaeologists from the University of Chester and Manchester has discovered a stone age Hunter-Gatherer settlement during excavations...

New fortification walls discovered in the ancient city of Pergamon

14 February 2022

14 February 2022

2,500-year-old fortification walls were found in the Ancient City of Pergamon (Bergama), which was included in the World Heritage List...