The Smyrna Agora, located in one of Izmir’s most crowded districts of Ikicesmelik, continues to bear witness to history of the Romans, Ottomans and the present day.

The ancient city which was established between Kadifekale and Izmir Bay has welcomed visitors and travelers from different cultures over centuries. Smyrna offers fractions of history to modern man with its basilica, historic murals, well-protected buildings and 2,000-year-old water trench. Assistant professor Akin Ersoy, the head of Smyrna Agora excavations, told an Anadolu Agency (AA) correspondent that the ancient city has been witnessing the history of Izmir for thousands of years. Ersoy informed that the recent excavations shed light on three specific features of the ancient city, including graffiti of the world’s first crossword on the wall of the basilica, the precautions taken by ancient civilizations for the threat of earthquakes and the 2,000-year-old water trench, which is still functioning to this day.

Stating that it is unlikely for most ancient sites to have a working water trench Ersoy said, “There are numerous water trenches under the Smyrna Agora and two of them are still functional. There are also springs in the city’s settlement plan. The trenches were built in order to carry water from the springs to the lower neighborhoods of the city or to places where water could hardly be found during the Roman era. The water trench that comes all the way to the agora of the city is still functioning and was connected to the fountains placed on the streets so that the residents of the city were able to get their hands on the water.”

Ersoy said that visitors of the ancient city are able to drink the water that flows through the ancient water trench.”The water trench might also be used for the public bath that is located just outside the city walls or used for health,” he added.  Stressing the fact that the excavations shed light on the life of residents of the ancient city, Ersoy claimed that there is archaeological heritage inside the modern province of Izmir.

Ersoy said that the findings at the excavations of Smyrna Agora suggested that Muslims, Christians and Jews were living together in peace and continued, “Izmir is a province which has many historic and cultural layers. We can say that people from different cultures and ethnicities were living together in Izmir. During the excavations, we discovered candles featuring the Star of David.”

Ersoy further pointed out that the Kemeralti, the historic market place in Izmir near the ancient Agora, is still the heart of commerce in Izmir and claimed that an important tourism attraction can be formed by connecting all these ancient sites.  The excavations focusing on Ottoman-era graveyards still continue at Smyrna Agora.

Source:  Daily Sabah

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