Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Turkey’s immortal city gets new lease on life

Known as the immortal city, 7,000-year-old Misis in the southern province of Adana is coming to light with archaeological work that is revealing the ancient city’s rich history

Misis (Mopsouestia) might be outshone by Rome, but the ancient city on the banks of the Ceyhan River in southern Turkey is just as old as the old imperial capital, while arguably trumping Rome’s moniker of “the eternal city” with its own title, “the immortal city.” Some 7,000 years after its founding, archaeological work at the site is now revealing the traces of antiquity.

The city is located right next to the Ceyhan River, 27 kilometers east of the center of the southern province of Adana on the historic Silk Road. 

As part of a project titled “The Infinite City: Misis,” made by Yüreğir Municipality, excavations have been continuing in the area, headed by Professor Anna Lucia of the National Research Council at the Institute for the Study of the Ancient Mediterranean and Professor Giovanni Salmeri of Pisa University. 

Structures such as city walls, stadiums, caravanserais and theaters are being unearthed during the archaeological works in the ancient city, which was first settled seven millennia ago.

As well as the artifacts underground, unearthed mosaics, an ancient stone bridge, city walls, aqueducts, baths, ancient stone tombs and the Havraniye Caravanserai make the city unique and significant. 

Salmeri said excavation work on the area was being carried out by expert teams from Italy. 

The Pisa University professor said Misis was a very old city and that they had found remains from the Neolithic, Chalcolithic, early Hittite, Roman and Byzantine eras. “People and history are living together here. This place will become a culture and archaeological park in two or three years,” he added. 

Salmeri said the professional excavation teams were working to shed light on the history of the region with pieces unearthed in excavations. “We have found pieces from the Neolithic age. Our analyses show that they are from 7,000 years ago. The ancient city of Misis hosted various civilizations,” he said, adding that the second stage of this year’s works would end in the next few days. 

Mosaic Museum and project

The archaeological work is helping augment the collection of the nearby Misis Mosaic Museum. In the museum various periods can be viewed in chronological order, and floor mosaics belonging to a basilica located within the boundaries of the Misis Ancient City are exhibited in situ. 

The ancient city was discovered in 1956 and the mosaic area was revealed by Professor Dr. Theodor Bosset and Dr. Ludwig Budde from a German archaeology team who were carrying out excavations at that time on the Misis Mound.

The project, “The Infinite city: Misis,” includes the construction of a new housing project by The Housing Development Administration of Turkey (TOKİ). Agricultural activity will continue in the area, but not at the excavation site itself, and a set of incentives will be offered to local farmers by the Agriculture Ministry, permitting daily life to continue at Misis.
Hurriyet Daily News. 2014. “Turkey’s immortal city gets new lease on life”. Hurriyet Daily News. Posted: November 14, 2014. Available online:

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