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Mythical city of Patara in Turkey

Excavations at the mythical city of Patara in Turkey

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Patara is the name of an ancient coastal city and port on the Mediterranean in Turkey with a long history and many legends surrounding its name. According to mythology the city was founded by Patarus who was a son of god Apollo. The city used to be famous for its oracle and its temple of Apollo and was only compared to Delphi in Greece , where the famous Oracle and Apollo temple resided.

The first inhabitants of Patara were the Lycians, and Patara was one of the cities of the kingdom of Lycia. We have references to the Lycians through ancient Egyptian texts that go back to 1250 BC. After that reference the next ones come from the ancient Greek historian Herodotus. Herodotus mentions extensively about the myths and legends of the Lycians and Patara, showing a direct connection to the Gods. Furthermore Homer in the story of Troy mentions the Lycians as allies of Troy and later on in the Bible we have references of Patara as the place where Paul of Tarsus and Luke changed ships and Saint Nicolas was born. The city was later conquered by Alexander the Great and Ptolemies where its name was changed to Arsinoe (wife of Ptolemy Philadelphus of Egypt). However we do not have any kind of written records of the Lycians.

It is obvious that such an ancient city will hold many secrets buried deep under the ruins. Excavations so far have brought to the surface statues from different eras including a Roman Era bronze Hermes statue and a four meter long head statue estimated to be from the Byzantine Era of Emperor Constantine. The statue appears to be unique in the whole world, as Professor Havva Iskan Isik suggests. Excavations on the site have just resumed for the 25 th year.

By John Black

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