The walls of the ‘impregnable’ ancient city of Termessos are being restored


The ancient city of Termessos (in the modern-day Antalya province, southwest Turkey) was likened to an eagle’s nest by Alexander the Great by virtue of its strategically fortified position along the Taurus Mountains. In fact, the settlement, under the rule of the Pisidian people from Anatolia, with its arrangement of sturdy walls and natural defenses, was among the very few ancient strongholds that successfully resisted the military ‘advances’ of the Greek conqueror from Macedon. And now, Termessos, perched at an altitude of 3,300-ft (at the south-west side of the mountain Solymos or Güllük Dağı in Turkish), is all set to have its historical legacy refurbished, with researchers working on the restoration of the defensive walls of the city.

Following on the heels of the proximate Perga, the restoration project is being undertaken with the support of the country’s Culture and Tourism Ministry and the Antalya Governor’s Office. The 1.7 million Turkish Liras endeavor, which has been touted as the first of its kind at the site of Termessos, was kickstarted by 3D mapping of the original set of walls.

To that end, the ancient defensive works of the city possibly comprised over 3,000 ft (over 1 km) of wall arrangements. The archaeologists will be restoring around a 1,000-ft section of these walls since the access to the rest is partially obstructed by the main road to the site. And in spite of this reduced scale, the 1,000-ft stretch will be reinforced by 3,000 stone blocks, each weighing over two-and-a-half tons. And while these blocks are arranged using a crane, the researchers have confirmed that the section, which would rise to a height of 20 ft, is being restored by using the original building materials without any ‘modern’ addition from the nearby stone pit.


Hellenistic-style Roman theater at Termessos, dating from circa 2nd century AD. Image Courtesy of Saffron Blaze.

This is what Cemil Karabayram, the Antalya Director of Surveying and Monuments, had to say about the restoration project –

The walls will be the same as they were 2,300 years ago with 3D scans. Four towers inside the walls will also be restored. This is one of the biggest and most important projects for Antalya. It is also very important in terms of tourism. We believe tourists will take more interest once the work is complete.

And lastly, from the archaeological perspective, the site of Termessos has revealed a range of ancient objects, including arrowheads, ceramic fragments, coins, and nails. Karabayram added –

Lots of historical nails were found on the ancient roads around the walls. After the work is done, we will invite people here. Lovers may declare their love for each other on these walls, which have spiritual value.


Alexander the Great leading a siege on a city. Illustration by Angus McBride.

Source / Featured Image Credit: Hurriyet Daily News