A team led by Dr Kaan Iren from Mugla Sitki Kocman University discovered wall reliefs from 2,500 years ago showing war scenes between Greeks and Persians in the northwest of Turkey.
Archaeologists discovered a relief from the fifth century BC last week that shows a war between Greeks and Persians in northwest Turkey. Located 30 kilometres south of Bandirma, the site is two kilometres east of Ergili village on the southeastern end of the ‘Kus Cenneti’ (Bird Paradise) national park.
Archaeologist Kaan Iren from Mugla Sitki Kocman University is leading the excavation site. Dascylium (also known as Daskyleion), the ancient city that has been home to many civilisations going back three millennia, is situated in modern-day Bandirma district of Balikesir province. The dig is concentrated in Ergili village’s Hisartepe area, authorised by the Ministry of Culture and Tourism.
Iren calls the scene on the reliefs “propaganda under the pretext of war,” adding that “we can say these reliefs are a scene from the Persian-Greek wars.”
Talking about the wall relief, Iren says it depicts Greek soldiers fighting Persians on horseback: “The Greek soldiers are shown as being trampled under the feet of Persian horses’ hooves.”
The reliefs, relics from the Greco-Persian Wars, were “probably made for propaganda purposes during the wars,” Iren says. The Greco-Persian Wars were fought between 492-449 BC, “between the armies and navies of the Achaemenid Empire (the Persians) and those of the Delian League, a large political and military alliance of Greek city-states led by Athens,” according to Ancient Origins.
Iren and his 30-strong team have been working on the Dascylium (Daskyleion) site since June 22, 2021. Iren says they have excavated parts of a stone and mud-brick wall that dates back to the eighth century BC.
The crew has archaeologists, academics, students as well as conservators, restorators and architects. Iren says they are working on establishing a tourism infrastructure in Dascylium.
Iren says that from the 8th century BC wall of the Phyrigian era, they unearthed an area of four metres high and 40 metres long. “We think this wall, which was made of stone and mud-brick, with the mud-brick parts disappearing over time,” he comments, “was seven or eight metres high.”
Thought to be a protective wall built by Phrygians to shield their territory, Iren said that the discovery of the relief was one of the season’s most important findings, exciting the crew members.
Ancient Origins writes that “Daskyleion was constructed and reconstructed as a fortress by all of its occupiers, and all dispatched highly qualified and respected administrators and leaders to manage the city and its surrounding area.”
Pyhrigians were the first settlers of the ancient city, Iren tells Anadolu Agency, noting that “[Phryigians] were last seen in the north and west of Anatolia at Daskyleion.”
“In addition to the wall, our work continues. A little further ahead there is a tower. We will continue our work until that tower. If our sponsors continue their support in future seasons, we will completely open up this area and introduce it to tourism.”
Ancient Origins calls Daskyleion a “strategically located” city, with respect to self-defence and trade. “Founded by Phrygian migrants on the southern shore of Lake Manyas,” 30 kilometres south of the Marmara Sea, the city offered “easy access to the most important waterways in the region.”
According to Ancient Origins the city was in an “ideal position” to prevent attacks from invaders into Anatolia’s interior. Ancient Origins lists Lydians, Persians and Greeks as seeking to control Daskyleion politically, economically and militarily as they arrived in Anatolia, as did Romans and Byzantines “centuries later… recognising the importance of this thriving community to the welfare and security of their empire.”
Thumbnail image: Ahmet Pesen/Anadolu Agency
Headline image: Mirac Kaya/Anadolu Agency