There are many ancient cities with the moniker of Tripoli, with Libya’s capital being one of the famous examples that started out as a Phoenician settlement in 7th century BC. But this time around, we are talking about the Turkish Tripoli, an ancient city whose ruins are located in the country’s western province of Denizli (Buldan district). Historically, this Tripoli started out as a Greco-Lydian city (corresponding to the Hellenistic era) that occupied a strategic juncture connecting the regions of Phrygia, Karia and Lydia. And now researchers from the Pamukkale University (PAU) Archaeology Department, have confirmed the commercial value of this settlement even in the later Roman era, by excavating a 2,000-year-old market place.
Now considering the Greek influence on the city in the preceding years, the marketplace was more than just a commercial area – with the agora also doubling as a public gathering zone (for political, athletic and trading demonstrations). The biggest marketplace or agora inside Tripoli constituted a 2,500 sq m (or 27,000 sq ft) designated area – which equates to half the size of an American football field. And this time around, the archaeologists uncovered an extensive gallery east of this agora that was enclosed during its usage in the ancient times. In fact, this was the third market area that the researchers have excavated inside the site limits, thus suggesting the importance of trade in Tripoli. In that regard, as we mentioned before, the settlement occupied a strategic location that fell on an ancient road that connected various cities of Asia Minor, including the urban areas on the western Anatolian side like Smyrna and Ephesus.
Bahadır Duman, who headed the excavation project, said –
Discovering a new marketplace in Tripoli showed us once again that the city was an important trade center especially in the second century A.D. in the Roman era. It is located to the north of two previously found marketplaces and it covers an area of 300 square meters, which is pretty big. This season our work will focus on this marketplace.
Now ‘trading’ as a term on its own tends to be vague, especially without the mention of actual commodities that were supplied through the region. But the archaeologists have hypothesized (based on their discoveries) that Tripoli was important for textile and cereal trade networks, along with marble and travertine. As Duman made it clear –
The region was one of the places controlling trade in Anatolia. Among them were apricot and grape seeds and the remains of walnuts. Of course, some of them were fossilized. We also found amphorae that were used to carry them.