A hundred 2,000-year-old Roman observation towers found in Konya, Turkey

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The remnants of nearly a hundred border monitoring towers have been unearthed at the Bozdağ National Park in Karatay, a town and district of Konya Province in the central Anatolian region of Turkey. According to the researchers, the border outpost was constructed during the Roman Empire and was even used by the Byzantines later on.  

The discovery was made by a group of eight archaeologists led by İlker Işık, the President of the Selçuk University (SU) Conservation and Restoration of Movable Cultural Heritage Department. As per the team, the area surrounding the 2,000-year-old towers likely served as a military garrison under the Roman Empire and post that, as a bishopric center in the early Christian period.

Over the last two years, the archaeologists have surveyed an area of around 3,500 hectares (approximately, 8648.6 acres). The Bozdağ National Park, Işık believes, has a major historical and cultural significance as it was once an important field, with several ancient sites surrounding it. He said –

We found 100 towers built on the route. They were likely built as observation towers with single or double battlements, with room for one or two watchmen. We have already photographed 42 of these towers. We will work on the other towers soon.

Speaking on the towers’ historical significance, Işık added –

This area was used as a military garrison by the Romans and as a bishopric center by early Christians. There are many military bases and towers on some strategic locations in the area. The aim was to provide security, protect trade routes, station the armed forces and as a precaution against enemies. This region has never been searched before for archaeological sites.

After becoming defunct, the ancient observation towers might have been used as pens for keeping sheep, pigs and other farm animals or even as grain silos during the late Roman and Byzantine eras. During their examination, the researchers also uncovered ceramic fragments within the structure that Date back to the Seljuk period. He stated –

There are important routes and Seljuk inns around the region. It was very functional as an important transition area, even in the Islamic times. The Roman-era towers and castles made this region strategically important. It was supposed to protect the empire from attacks coming from the east. This is a boundary line. If someone could cross it, it meant Konya would be captured. They are like our outposts in the eastern cities at present.

It was under the Seljuk Empire that the region emerged as an important trade center. For the uninitiated, the Seljuk Empire was a medieval Turko-Persian Sunni Muslim empire, whose territory extended from the Hindu Kush mountain range in modern-day Afghanistan and Pakistan to western Anatolia and the Levant as well as from Central Asia all the way to the Persian Gulf. Originating from the Qiniq line of the Oghuz Turks, the empire was founded by Tughril Beg in 1037.

The empire and the Seljuk dynasty were named after Seljuk-Bef, Tughril’s grandfather. In addition to aiding in the unification of the largely fragmented political scene in the eastern Islamic world, the Seljuks played a major part in the first as well as the second crusades and also helped develop a cohesive Turko-Persian tradition in Anatolia.

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The archaeologists also unearthed a few silver coins belonging to the era of Mehmed the Conqueror, an Ottoman Sultan who ruled from circa 1444 AD to 1446 AD and again, from February 1451 AD to May 1481 AD. During his reign, Mehmed II conquered Constantinople, thus bringing an end to the Byzantine Empire. Talking about the findings, the team added –

We also found some coins belonging to the Dutch and the Free State of Saxony in the national park. This shows how important the region was until the 16th century. Our search continues. We conducted the fieldwork with the air and charge stations that we made on our own. We can detect places with snapshots with the air station. We can continue to work for a long time thanks to our charge station. We hope this region will be turned into an archeopark.

Source/Image Credits: Daily Sabah

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