A road built by the Romans almost 2000 years ago has been almost completely destroyed in Turkey after it was used for a modern market.
The area which is part of the ancient Silk Road located in the Konak district of the ancient city of Izmir is currently attracting hundreds of visitors with vehicles parked around all the time causing many segments of the road to completely collapse.
Professor Engin Berber from the International Relations Faculty at Ege University said it was a tragedy and urged officials to give what remains protected status, saying that at the moment it has absolutely no protection.
The famous Silk Road was actually a series of trade routes between East and West used primarily for the movement of silk but also other items including paper and gunpowder. It was also key in the spread of civilisation helping to develop the economies of Korea, Japan the Indian subcontinent, Iran, Europe, the Horn of Africa and Arabia.
The road however in Turkey built with huge slabs laid down in the Esrefpasa district is being virtually destroyed by the people and the huge volume of traffic attending the market.
When the market is not operating, it is used as a parking lot.
Professor Berber said that the road was not something that can be compared to a modern road and was a triumph of ancient engineering. He said that all of the stones had been carefully curved so that when water fell, it flowed in between the gaps between the stones. He said there were also pavements at the side of the road, and that it was one of the main routes used by Roman armies, Roman citizens and even slaves being moved between regions or to marketplaces after capture.
He said that it should be given urgent protection and added: “As this is an archaeological site, excavation should also be done.”
He said it was believed that there was a theatre in the area and also the home of a learning scholar.
He added: This area needs to be completely excavated. Some collapses have occurred. Permissions must be obtained from the authorities and a comprehensive excavation must be carried out here. We should not consider this road alone. This region was the center of ancient Izmir.”
The city was reportedly founded in 6500 BC making it one of the oldest settlements in the Mediterranean basin.
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