x0x Ancient sites to host Izmir International Festival
- x0x Ancient sites to host Izmir International Festival
Seval Deniz Karahaliloglu
The proud ancient sites of Izmir will host the 16th Izmir International
Festival. Every year, new historical and ancient sites take part in the
festival program, hosting various artistic performances, reviving the
city's cultural and artistic environment and regaining their prominence at
the center of Izmir's social life. This year, the festival will begin with
an artistic performance at Kadifekale. It is the first time Kadifekale
will open to the public as an art centre, through this performance.
Throughout the festival, audiences will enjoy the various performances in
the magnificent historical atmosphere of such venues as the Ephesus
Ancient Theatre and the Celsus Library.
The Velvet Castle
Kadifekale is called the "priceless tiara of Izmir," and throughout
history, has witnessed the city's progress. Kadifekale was built by
Lycimachos, one of Alexander the Great's generals in the 4th century B.C..
According to Pausanians, who was one of the most important historians of
the time, Alexander the Great went hunting one day on Mt. Pagos and,
afterwards, fell asleep under a plane tree, which grew in front of the
temple of the two Nemeses, situated near this spot.
The goddess appeared to him in a dream and told him to set up a new city
there and to have the inhabitants of the old city of Izmir move to it.
That is why the people of Smyrna consulted the oracle of Apollo at Claros,
as was customary when setting up a town, to inquire if the time was
propitious. The answer they got was this: Three or four times happy will
those men be, who are going to inhabit Pagos beyond the sacred Mels.
Therefore, he ordered a new city to build on Mt. Pagos. The castle offers
a magnificent view of the Gulf of Izmir and the city below.
Magnificent queen of ancient times: Ephesus
Ephesus was one of the most famous cities and most important commercial
centres of the ancient world and, today, is a highlight of any visit to
Turkey. The city was founded on the harbour where the Kaistros (Little
Menderes River) flows into the sea. Ephesus was also wealthy, and
patronage supported its splendid architectural program, dedicated to the
goddess Artemis. Her enormous temple, once considered one of the Seven
Wonders of the Ancient World, has been rebuilt several times; its latest
form dates from the third century B.C..
It was located at the centre of an important commercial crossroad with
connections to the East, and was a significant religious centre, both in
the polytheist period and in the Christian era. Many famous historical
figures lived in Ephesus, such as Artemidorus, who wrote an important work
on the interpretation of dreams, poets such as Kallinos and Hipponax, the
physicians Soranus and Rufus, the philosopher Heracletius, the painter
Parrhesius and the grammarian Zenodotos.
The artifacts recently found at the huyuks (mounds) at Arvalya and
Cukurici demonstrate that the history of Ephesus dates back to 6000 B.C.,
the Chalcolithic Period. Excavations at Ayasuluk Hill brought to light a
settlement from the Early Bronze Age.
Thus, ancient Ephesus was first located on Ayasuluk Hill. It was first
settled by the Hittite and Anatolian tribes, for Ephesus is mentioned in
Hittite cuneiform tablets under the name, Apassas. The ancient
geographers, Strabo and Pausanias, the poet Kallinos, and the historian
Heredotus claim that Ephesus was founded by the Amazons, and that the
native tribes of the area were the Carians and the Lelegians. Like
colonists elsewhere in the Mediterranean basin, Androklos and his men
arrived in Anatolia around 1050 B.C. and settled Ephesus and its vicinity.
Destroying the Temple of Artemis, the Cimmerians attacked this colony in
the seventh century B.C..
In 560 B.C., under the sovereignty of Lydia, Ephesians began to inhabit
the area around the Temple of Artemis. The ancient city of Ephesus, whose
ruins are visible today, was established by Lysimachos, one of the
generals of Alexander the Great, in 300 B.C.. The city of Ephesus moved
back to Ayasuluk Hill, the site of its earliest settlement, during the
The Turks conquered the city in 1304 and it became thereafter a part of
the Ottoman territories. The city name of Ayasumuk was changed to Selcuk
in 1914. For a period after the Turkish War of Independence, the city was
called Akyncilar, and in 1957, Selcuk became a city within the province of
Izmir. The ruins of Ephesus include a theatre, gymnasium, agora and baths,
as well as the Celsus Library. Today, the Ephesus Ancient Theatre and the
Celsus Library are used for festival concerts and artistic performances.
The Ephesus Ancient Theatre
The Ephesus Ancient Theatre is situated on the slope of Mt. Panayir. It
was first built in Hellenistic times and was renovated in the 1st and 2nd
centuries A.D.. It seated 24,000 spectators. The stage building was three
stories and rose to a height of 18 meters. The cavea, the seating area,
consisted of three superimposed sections. The theatre was the scene of
gladiatorial fights during the late Roman period.
During the early years of Christianity, St. Paul, who came to Ephesus to
spread Christianity, wanted to address the crowd at the theatre. The
silversmith Demetrius provoked the people against St. Paul, because he
earned a lot of money with his Artemis statues, and they shouted all
together, "Artemis of Ephesus is great, the greatest is Artemis." So, St.
Paul was forced to leave Ephesus and he continued his journey to
The Celsus Library
The Celsus Library was erected in 135 A.D. by Julius Aquila for his
father, Julius Celsus Polemaeanus, the consul of the Asia province of the
Roman Empire. The library, measuring 60.90 by 16.7 meters had a
two-storey facade and a large room inside. Its facade contains examples of
architectural elements that are among the most beautiful of the period,
such as doors, windows, gables, niches and columns.
A gap of one meter between the inner and outer walls of the library
protected the books from the extremes of temperature and humidity. Four
female statues, standing between the columns, personify the virtues of
Celsus : Sophia (wisdom), Arete (virtue), Ennoia (intelligence), Episteme
(knowledge). Celsus himself is buried in a sarcophagus beneath the west
side of the library.
The excavation area: Bayrakli
The excavation of Bayrakli opened to the public for the first time for
artistic performances with the Izmir State Opera and Ballet's spring
concert. It has continued to hold various concerts, such as the 15th
International Izmir Festival last year. The excavations at Bayrakli have
unearthed a temple dedicated to Athena and the wall of the Ionian city
which flourished there between the seventh and fifth centuries B.C..
The first excavations, carried out between 1948 and 1951, were undertaken
jointly by Ankara University and the British School of Archaeology at
Athens, under the direction of John Cook and Ekrem Akurgal. They were
recommended in 1966 by the latter under the auspices of the Turkish
Historical Society, the General Directorate of Turkish Museums, the Ege
Universities, and Ankara.
New information was gained concerning the history of the old city of Izmir
as a result of this joint expedition. Excavations have revealed that the
earliest settlement in Izmir was founded in the 3rd millennium B.C.,
present day Bayrakli, on the site where vineyards managed by the State
Monopoly are located.
In antiquity, the plain of Bornova was covered by the sea and the
abovementioned city was a small peninsula on the edge of the Bay of Izmir.
The first inhabitants of Smyrna were Lelefians and Carians and they were
both the native peoples of Anatolia. The first inhabitants, as was
revealed by the excavations, built their houses on the rock. Their
settlement was a contemporary of the Troy 1 and 2 civilizations. The
second millennium strata of Bayrakli was a contemporary of the Troy 4 and
By 1500 B.C., the city was subject to the influence of the Hittite Empire
of Central Anatolia and two important Hittite monuments, the Tudhaliya
relief at Kemalpasa and the relief of a mother goddess at Manisa, testify
to this influence. In the 11th century B.C. the coastal city of Smyrna was
inhabited by Ionians and Aelonians. The one-room building made of sun
dried brick, which was brought to light at Bayrakly, is the best and
oldest house of this period. The megaron, built in the 7th century B.C.
and restored in the 6th, is a unique example of this type of house dating
from the archaic period. The temple dating from the end of the 7th century
B.C., which is being unearthed at Bayrakli, is the earliest and finest
religious building of the eastern Greek world in Asia Minor (Anatolia).
According to the inscription on a bronze bar found during the excavations,
the temple was dedicated to the goddess Athena. The capitals and the
column bases are the oldest and most beautiful in the Hellenistic world
known to us at the present time. The symbol of the ancient city of Izmir
was a lion's head. Today, in the British Museum, we can see a lion's head
on a coin which was minted at the beginning of the 6th century B.C.. Izmir
was one of the important cities of the Ionic Federation, and this period
was one of the city's most brilliant.
Izmir - Turkish Daily News