Anemurium, Turkey

Located on the southernmost point of Asia Minor opposite Cyprus, Anemurium flourished as a small Roman town from the first through the seventh century C.E. UBC’s investigation of the site, begun in 1970, uncovered much of the civic centre, including three public baths, theatre, town hall (basilica) and council chamber, as well as several early Christian churches and selected tombs in the city’s spacious cemetery. Many of the buildings were adorned with colourful mosaic pavement and wall paintings which have required careful conservation. From the pottery, glass, coins, including examples minted locally, and the numerous minor objects found during excavation, the U.B.C. team was able to shed much light on the daily lives of the inhabitants.

Detailed Description: The site of Anemurium occupies the eastern flank of Cape Anamur, the southernmost point of Asia Minor, immediately opposite Cyprus. Here lie the remains of a modest Roman city, the largest of several located on the line of the ancient road that traverses the coast of Rough Cilicia. Already in existence in the fourth century BC, the city reached its greatest prosperity during the second and early third centuries AD. After a long period of instability precipitated by a brief occupation by the Persians beginning around AD 260, its fortunes revived somewhat during the fifth century when it seems to have expanded to its largest size. By the end of the following century, however, a marked decline had set in. In the modest role it assumed in the economy of its region, Anemurium provides a far more accurate measure of provincial urbanization in both theRoman and Byzantine empires than do larger cosmopolitan centres of the region such as Ephesus or Antioch.

The Department assumed responsibility for the excavation of Anemurium in 1971. Of particular interest from the outset was the nucleus of well-preserved public buildings that formed the city centre at the height of its prosperity in the second and third centuries AD. These included a large theatre, a small odeon or small theatre that probably served as the city’s council chamber, a spacious three-aisled civil basilica or town hall dominated by an apsed tribunal, and three large public baths. Most of these buildings were cleared of surface debris, surveyed, and in some cases consolidated and partially reconstructed to render them structurally safe. During the fifth and early sixth centuries, when Anemurium once again enjoyed a modicum of prosperity, the most distinctive feature of the city was its Christianity. Four churches in all were excavated. The striking Necropolis Church, first built around 400 AD, maintained its distinctive basicical plan through subsequent enlargements.