23 February 2024 The Future is the Product of the Past

Ancient Hippodrome, Subject of Ben-Hur Movie, Will Become “Arkeo Sports Park”

Ben-Hur, a wealthy prince living in Jerusalem, is a historical figure who struggled for the freedom of the Jews during the Roman period. He is best known for the 1959 feature film Ben-Hur: A Tale of the Christ, starring Charlton Heston.

It is planned to be the hippodrome “Arkeo Spor Park” in the Antakya district of Hatay (Turkey), which was the subject of Ben-Hur: A Tale of the Christ, which went down in cinema history as a successful film that received 11 academy honors.

Head of the excavation, Hatay Mustafa Kemal University (HMKU), Head of the Archeology Department of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences, Prof. Dr. Hatice Pamir, with the hippodrome excavation, said, “Our goal is to make this structure visible and bring it to the city and to contribute to domestic and foreign tourism mobility,” she said.

“To bring the structure to tourism as Arkeo Sports Park”

“The first excavations in the hippodrome, which was built in the 1st century AD, were carried out between 1932 and 1939, some archaeological material was found, but it was taken abroad because it was the French mandate period. We started excavations here in 2013 and we want to reveal the archaeological values ​​of Antakya in the context of these studies,” said Hatice Pamir, “We aim to uncover the remains of the hippodrome, the most important structure of the ancient city. The ancient hippodrome is a very important structure, it is a place where the most important sports games of the Antiquity, the Olympic Games, were held for 350 years, 2,000 years ago. Everyone from the most important cities of the eastern Mediterranean participated in the competitions held here every four years. Right now, there is Tokyo Olympics and the whole world is watching it. The Olympic games held in Antakya in the same way in Antiquity attracted a lot of attention, and we are talking about a sports structure with 80 thousand people here, it shows us how many people came. Our goal is to make this structure visible, to bring it to the city within the concept of an Arkeo Sports Park, and to contribute to domestic and foreign tourism mobility,” she said.

The ancient hippodrome in Antakya will be Arkeo Sports Park
The ancient hippodrome in Antakya will be Arkeo Sports Park. Photo: DHA

According to news in the DHA, Pamir stated that the ancient hippodrome occupies a large area with the structures surrounding it and that it is the most lively center of the ancient city, Pamir stated that excavations still reveal the structures surrounding it as well as the hippodrome.

Stating that Antakya Hippodrome is unique in terms of structure, Professor Pamir said,  “The length of the hippodrome in the north-south direction is approximately 500 meters, and its width is close to 100 meters from outside. It has a two-story grandstand and a U-shape surrounds this entire area. There is no sports structure in Turkey, which has a capacity of 80 thousand people and has these dimensions at the moment. Of course, there are stadiums, hippodromes, and amphitheaters where gladiator games are played in other ancient cities, but we can say that this is a very special structure in terms of both its size, capacity, and versatile usability, the only and the largest.”

The foundations are being unearthed in the hippodrome excavation, which is the subject of the movie Ben-Hur. Photo DHA
The foundations are being unearthed in the hippodrome excavation, which is the subject of the movie Ben-Hur. Photo DHA

“It was the subject of the movie Ben-Hur”

Archaeologist Sevingül Bilgin Kopçuk, the deputy head of the excavation, said that there was a spina wall in the ancient hippodrome during the excavations and said, “We are aware that there are statues and fountain devices on this structure. This spina part is a row of buildings in the hippodrome where horse races are held, around which the horses turn 5 or 7 times. We even know that the 1959 movie Ben-Hur was shot based on this place,” she said.

“We reveal the foundations”

Stating that they are continuing the excavation work in the eastern tribune area of the hippodrome, member of the excavation team, Hatay Mustafa Kemal University (HMKU) Art Vocational School Lecturer Büşra Kocaman Sakin said:

“Our aim here is to excavate the foundations of the area on the east side of the hippodrome. The areas saw actually belong to the stairs leading to the second floor of the two-story tribune, and these existing ruins were actually covered with cut stone blocks and were much more magnificent. The block stones here were moved over time and used in other structures. Currently, in our work in the eastern tribune area, we descend from the surface soil at about 1 meter depending on the soil slope, revealing the foundations.”

Related Articles

Al-Aqiser Church, Disappears in the Depths of The Iraqi Desert

10 May 2021

10 May 2021

In a country that has been devastated by successive conflicts and economic crises, Al-Aqiser, like the numerous Christian, Islamic and...

Unique finds unearthed in the ancient city of Olba in southern Türkiye

16 August 2023

16 August 2023

In the excavations carried out in the ancient city of Olba, located in the Silifke district of Mersin, in the...

Archeologists Discover Two Sphinxes measure 26 feet in length in Egyptian Ruins

21 January 2022

21 January 2022

Archeologists have discovered the remains of two huge sphinx statues, each measuring 26 feet in length, at the funerary temple...

Archaeologists discovered how wine was cooled in Roman legions on the Danube

15 September 2023

15 September 2023

Lead archaeologist Piotr Dyczek, a professor at the Center for Research on Antiquities of Southeastern Europe at the University of...

Who will solve the puzzle of Bronze Age tin? Origin of tin ingots from Uluburun shipwreck disputed – the metal may have come from Cornwall

3 October 2023

3 October 2023

The exact origin of tin in the Bronze Age is the Holy Grail of archaeometallurgists: For 150 years, experts have...

Ötzi the Iceman Had Dark Skin, Bald Head and Anatolian Ancestry -New study rewrites ancient history

17 August 2023

17 August 2023

New DNA analysis by German researchers shows that the famous glacier mummy Ötzi may have had dark skin, dark eyes,...

Two Archaic Sculptures was Unearthed in Milas Euromos 2021 Excavations

2 July 2021

2 July 2021

Milas Euromos 2021 archaeological excavations continue. During the excavations of Milas Euromos 2021, archaeologists unearthed two archaic period statues (kuros)...

A Roman statue unearthed on the site of St Polyeuctus’ church, which once Constantinople’s largest church

5 April 2023

5 April 2023

At Saraçhane Archaeology Park, where the Church of St. Polyeuctus is situated, excavation work by Istanbul Metropolitan Municipality (IBB) teams...

Unique 2700-year-old mosaics unearthed in illegal excavations

17 November 2021

17 November 2021

Two 2700-year-old mosaics, which are thought to belong to a Roman rich man and symbolize magnificence, were found in a...

During the demolition work, a 2,500-year-old bull heads alto relievo was discovered in Sinop

20 April 2022

20 April 2022

During the demolition work of the buildings in front of the historical city walls for the City Square National Garden...

China’s construction of the first archaeological museum which will house the famous Terracotta Warriors has been completed

19 April 2022

19 April 2022

Construction of the first archaeological museum in China’s northwestern province of Shaanxi, which will house the famous Terracotta Warriors, was...

The excavations in Selinunte, Italy, which has the largest Agora in the Ancient World, “The results have gone well beyond expectations”

29 July 2022

29 July 2022

In the Selinunte, one of the most important archaeological sites of the Greek period in Italy, the outlines of the...

A 3200-year-old trepanned skull discovered in eastern Turkey’s Van province

12 November 2022

12 November 2022

A 3200-year-old trepanned skull was discovered in eastern Turkey’s Van province. In the prehistoric era, Anatolia served as a transitional...

A 2600-year-old Clay Pot was Repurposed As Trash Bin in An Iranian Museum

13 November 2023

13 November 2023

A clay pot dating back to the 2600-year-old Medes period is now serving as a trash bin in a museum...

Archaeologists opened an untouched Etruscan tomb

31 October 2023

31 October 2023

In Vulci Archaeological Park, central Italy, a 2,600-year-old intact double-chambered Etruscan tomb that was discovered in April and had remained...