Located in the Muğla province in southwestern Turkey, 2,500-year-old ancient city Bargylia is reportedly up for sale for 35 million Turkish liras (around $8.35 million). Spread across 330 decares of land, the site has been part of a private property since 1927. It is believed to house an underground amphitheater, the remnants a Roman bath and a necropolis belonging to the Byzantine era.
According to legend, Bargylia was founded by Bellerophon in memory of his slain companion Bargylos. Since construction of any kind is not permitted in first-degree archaeological sites, the land remains untouched and no excavations have been conducted as of yet. However, to ensure that the ancient city’s historical heritage remains protected, archaeologists have requested the Ministry of Culture and Tourism to procure the land.
This isn’t the first time that the site has been up for sale. In fact, as per Hüseyin Üçpınar, one of the property’s shareholders, the owners have been looking for buyers for quite some time now. However, it got delayed due to disagreements among the shareholders. Earlier, in 2015, the land, including Bargylia, went on sale for 22 million Turkish liras (approx. $5.12 million). Ultimately, the buyers backed out because of shortage of funds.
In the last several decades, the Aegean city has been plundered by numerous illegal treasure hunters. According to reports, smugglers have damaged and stolen an ancient mosaic. One local added, “We hear the sounds of treasure hunters at night, but we cannot do anything out of fear.”
Historical Significance Of The Ancient City Of Bargylia
Situated around 30 kilometers off Bodrum along the Carian coast between Iasos and Myndus, in southwestern Anatolia (modern-day Turkey), Bargylia is an ancient city with a rich archaeological heritage. It is located close to the site of the Temple of Artemis Cindyas, near the present-day Turkish town of Boğaziçi in the Muğla Province.
As per Strabo, a Greek philosopher and geographer who lived in Asia Minor during the transitional period between the Roman Republic and the Roman Empire, the local belief at the time was that rain would round the temple and never actually touch it. Legend has it that the city was founded by Bellerophon, a hero of Greek mythology, in memory of his companion Bargylos, who died as a result of a kick from the winged horse Pegasus. In fact, both Artemis Cindyas and Pegasus appear on the coinage of Bargylia.
During the winter of the Cretan War, circa 201-200 BC, Macedonian king Philip V stationed his fleet in Bargylia after being blocked off by the Pergamene and Rhodian fleets. The city is also celebrated as the birthplace of Epicurean philosopher Protarchus.
According to historical records, a large tomb monument once adorned a headland near the Bargylia harbor. Dedicated to Scylla, a sea monster from Greek mythology, the stone structure likely dated back to the Hellenistic period, between circa 200 BC and 150 BC. The remains of the monument are currently kept at the British Museum.
Apart from that, the site also holds the ruins of a large defensive wall and a palaestra, which was a wrestling school or gymnasium in ancient Greece and Rome. In the 1950s, British-Italian travel writer Freya Stark visited Bargylia. A detailed account of her travels, pertaining to the site’s rich history, was later published in The Geographical Journal.
Turkey’s Muğla province is home to over 192 archaeological sites, of which only around 22 of them are currently under protection.
Source/Featured Image Credit: Hürriyet Daily