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Quarrying and Blasting May Destroy 2100-Year-Old Castle Site and Statue of Mother Goddess in Turkey

Quarrying and Blasting May Destroy 2100-Year-Old Castle Site and Statue of Mother Goddess in Turkey


Blasting and quarrying of rock at a site near the ancient Kurul Castle in Turkey have endangered the structure and a precious statue of the ancient goddess Cybele.

The castle, which dates back about 2,100 years, is located in the northern province of Ordu near the Black Sea. King Mithridates VI of Armenia Minor and Pontus had the castle built during his reign, which spanned from 120 to 63 BC.

Kurul Rock archaeological site, Ordu, Turkey.

Kurul Rock archaeological site, Ordu, Turkey. (Black Sea-silk Road Corridor)

The explosions going on daily near the castle have threatened the sculpture of Cybele, an ancient mother goddess of the region, says an article about the situation in Hurriyet Daily News online. The castle is situated on the peak of the mountain in Bayadi village.

The digs carried out there since 2010 are being conducted under the supervision of professor Yücel Şenyurt.

When the discovery of the statue of Cybele was made known to the world, about 15,000 people visited the castle to see it.

Examining the Cybele statue in Ordu, Turkey.

Examining the Cybele statue in Ordu, Turkey. (Hurriyet Daily News)

Now, the archaeological excavations are still going on at the same time as the quarrying and blasting with dynamite, on the slopes of the Kurul Rocks above the Melet River. This quarrying could spell the end of, or great damage to, what remains of the Kurul Castle.

Governmental authorities, the quarrying company, and archaeologists are trying to sort out the situation and see to the protection of the site.

As Ancient Origins reported in January 2017, Cybele was a goddess of ecstatic and chthonic reproductive mysteries, the primary mother goddess of ancient Anatolia, and Phrygia's only known goddess thus far. She was a "Mistress of Animals," "Great Mother" and "Mother of the Mountain" and it appears that Cybele was adopted by the Greeks in Asia Minor (modern day Turkey), and then adapted as she spread from there to mainland Greece, followed by Rome.

Cybele protects from Vesuvius the towns of Stabiae, Herculaneum, Pompeii and Resina (1832) by François-Édouard Picot.

Cybele protects from Vesuvius the towns of Stabiae, Herculaneum, Pompeii and Resina (1832) by François-Édouard Picot. (Public Domain) A statue of this important goddess is under threat by blasting and quarrying in Turkey.

In Phrygia, no records remain concerning her cult and worship, though there are numerous statues of overweight, seated women that archaeologists believe represent Cybele. Often she is also portrayed giving birth, indicative of her Mother Goddess status.

Cybele has components of various mother goddesses in ancient Greece: Gaia, Rhea, and Demeter, each notable in their own aspects. Gaia is the ancient Greek mother goddess, responsible for birthing the gods and various aspects of the cosmos with Uranus. Rhea plays a similar role in the universe as the mother of the Olympians, with ancient roots in Minoan and Mycenaean traditions. And Demeter is directly responsible for the changing of the seasons and thus the fertility of the earth.

Figurine of a seated Mother Goddess flanked by two lionesses found at Çatalhöyük, Turkey (about 6000-5500 BC), Museum of Anatolian Civilizations in Ankara.

Figurine of a seated Mother Goddess flanked by two lionesses found at Çatalhöyük, Turkey (about 6000-5500 BC), Museum of Anatolian Civilizations in Ankara. (CC BY SA 2.5) Many say this is one of the earliest representations of Cybele.

Ancient Origins also reported on the king who built Kurul castle, Mithridates (spelled also as Mithradates) VI. His full name is Mithridates VI Eupator Dionysius. He was a famous king of Pontus, a Hellenistic kingdom in Asia Minor of Persian origin. Mithridates is best known for his conflict with the Roman Republic in the three Mithridatic Wars, in which the Pontic king fought against three prominent Roman generals – Lucius Cornelius Sulla, Lucius Licinius Lucullus, and Gnaeus Pompey Magnus.

A bust of the king of Pontus Mithridates VI as Heracles. Marble, Roman imperial period (1st century).

A bust of the king of Pontus Mithridates VI as Heracles. Marble, Roman imperial period (1st century). (CC BY 3.0) Mithridates VI built Kurul castle, which is now in danger in Turkey.

Top image: The Kurul Rock archaeological site (@eslidemirel/imgrum) and this statue of Cybele (T24) are in danger of being destroyed by nearby blasting and quarrying in Turkey.

By Mark Miller

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