The city of Perga possibly boasts around 5,000 years of historical legacy and is rightly considered as one of the compelling examples of cross-cultural occupation and habitation. And while the famous site, in what is now Turkey’s coastal Antalya province, has been the focus of numerous excavations and discoveries since 1946, archaeologists believe that majority of the city still lies hidden under the ground. To that end, researchers from Antalya Museum, following up on their discoveries of exquisite mosaic scenes in 2017, are currently excavating the western section of the settlement. They are also actively ‘hunting’ for the inconspicuous water tunnels that formed a network of four different branches.
According to Antalya Museum Director Mustafa Demirel, only 30 percent of ancient Perga has been excavated till now. He said (to Ihlas News Agency) –
Archaeological excavations take a long time and take place under the framework of a specific plan. A large portion of the city is still under the ground but excavation works continue in an organized manner.
Now as for the historical scope of Perga, the settlement leaving behind its Bronze Age legacy, possibly came into prominence as a vassal city of the Hittites, circa 1000 BC. After the eclipse of the Neo-Hittite kingdoms, the city was once again revived by the Pamphylian Greeks, and as such the settlement’s control passed back and forth between the Ionians, Athenians and Persians. And following the conquests of Alexander the Great, ancient Perga was ruled by his Seleucid successors until the emergence of the Romans (the territory came under their control during the Roman Republic phase, circa 2nd century BC).
During the Hellenistic period, Perga was renowned for its Temple of Artemis that held annual festivals – so much so that many of the coins struck in the city portrayed both the goddess and her sanctuary. And this deep-seated Greek legacy of the ancient city was incredibly perpetuated even during the Roman interlude, with various mosaics depicting features of Greek mythology. From the archaeological angle, these flurry of artworks is also accompanied by numerous sculptures, artifacts and a necropolis in the vicinity of the settlement.
Lastly, reverting to the current scenario, Perga, by virtue of its impressive ruins, still manages to draw over 200,000 visitors annually. And the good news for history enthusiasts is that the archaeologists, alongside their continuing excavations, are looking forth to restore two towers, a theater, and a stadium at the ancient site. This will be followed by the planned recreation of the water flow at the ancient fountains through the tunnels.