Monday, December 24, 2007

Flooding of Roman excavation site appears imminent

Archaeologists are still holding their breath over Allianoi, an ancient Roman health spa in western Turkey that is a well-preserved but not yet fully excavated archaeological site. Early this year, local and international archeologists protested

against plans to submerge the site under a reservoir created by the 700-metre-long Yortanli Dam, as part of a massive irrigation project along the Ilya River.

Under a barrage of protest from European officials and others, the Turkish authorities have not yet given the green light to close the dam gates and start the flooding. Ahmet Yaras, head of the Allianoi excavation team (which has uncovered 20% of Allianoi, yielding some 10,000 artefacts including ceramics, coins, glass and statues), says the government has indicated that flooding will begin by February. Yaras, who has appealed for a flooding delay of five years to completely excavate the site, thinks that this time the government, under pressure from farmers, will go ahead with the reservoir.
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