Excavations reveal the hidden story of Ani ruins in eastern Turkey
Ani archaeological site, located on the Turkish-Armenian border near Arpaçay district in Kars province, is one of Turkey’s most popular destinations thanks to its fascinating history. The site’s hidden past will soon be revealed through excavations, further increasing its popularity with foreign and local tourists.
Inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List, the ruins of Ani are also known as the “World City”, “Cradle of Civilizations”, “1001 Churches” and “City of 40 Ports”. Once ruled by the Kingdom of Urartu, the Scythians, Persians, Macedonians and Sassanids respectively, Ani was captured by Islamic armies in 643. The site was used as the capital by the Armenian rulers of the Bagratuni dynasty between 884 and 1045 and was under the Byzantines between 1045 and 1064. On August 16, 1064, Ani was conquered by Alp Arslan, the second sultan of the Seljuk Empire.
As it has hosted 23 civilizations since its founding, Ani is home to many religious edifices such as mosques, churches and cathedrals of distinct beauty and historical value, as well as other historical buildings and invaluable cultural treasures on the Turkish shores of Arpaçay. The site is of particular importance as the first gateway to Anatolia from the Caucasus.
About 25 important buildings, including walls, mosques, cathedrals, palaces, churches, monasteries, barracks, baths, bridges and a partially destroyed closed passage, have survived Ani to the present day. The site also sheds light on the past with nearly 1,500 underground structures in 32 regions of five valleys, where a significant portion of Ani’s population lived in the Middle Ages.
The excavation work, which will be carried out in the region in partnership with the General Directorate of Cultural Heritage and Museums of the Ministry of Culture and Tourism and the University of Kafkas (KAÜ), will begin in June. The works will be carried out under the coordination of Muhammet Arslan, head of the department of the history of art of KAÜ and of the excavations of the archaeological site of Ani. The excavations are expected to last 12 months, including digging, protection, storage and publication of the work.
The head of the excavation, Arslan told the Anadolu Agency (AA) that Ani is a very important historical place in the world. Stating that they are planning a six-month excavation for the first time in the history of Ani’s excavation, he continued: “The excavation work on the ground will continue for six months, then the storage and publication work. will be conducted within the remaining six months. . “
Excavations will be carried out, in particular around the Seldjoukide bazaar, the large public bath and the Ebu’l Manuçehr mosque in the ruins of Ani. The work around the Ebu’l Manuçehr is particularly important as the structure is the first Turkish mosque in Anatolia. Ebu’l Manuçehr Bey commissioned the mosque a year after Seldjouk Sultan Alp Arslan won the Battle of Manzikert in 1071. The mosque, which has survived until today, is known as one of the oldest Seljuk structures from Anatolia. The ceiling of the rectangular two-storey building is decorated with rich Seljuk motifs. The mosque’s 99-step minaret served as a watchtower.
Arslan added that they will reveal the rich heritage of the city through their excavations: “Some of the most monumental works in the city belong to the Christian period. While we will be doing excavation work around these structures, we will also focus on the work built during the Seljuk Empire, which was the second prosperous period for Ani. Because it was located on the Silk Road as the first point of transition from Central Asia to Asia Minor and the first gateway to Anatolia from the Caucasus, Ani’s cultural heritage has grown. enriched over time in the past, and this wealth has led to an increase in the city’s population. According to travelers’ statements, around 100,000 to 150,000 people lived here, and when commerce grew richer, architectural culture also came back to life. With our latest excavations, we are also going to revive the historical context of this ancient land. “