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Memorial Tomb of Ancient Greek Astronomer Aratus Unearthed in Turkey

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Soli Pompeipolis, Turkey. A memorial tomb for the ancient Greek astronomer Aratus was found in this city along the Mediterranean. Credit: Carole Raddato/Wikimedia Commons/CC BY-SA 2.0

Archaeologists working in the ancient Greek city of Soli Pompeipolis in the southern Mersin province in Turkey have unveiled the memorial tomb of the Greek poet and astronomer Aratus, who was born in 315 BC.

One of the first people in the world to observe the moon scientifically, Aratus is so well known and respected by astronomers that when astronauts took the first step on the moon, the first crater they named was for Aratus.

Site of ancient Greek tomb was significant in Roman and Greek world

The tomb of the gifted poet and astronomer, near the shore of the Mediterranean in southern Turkey, is being excavated by Professor Remzi Yağcı, who is the head of the Department of Museology at Turkey’s Dokuz Eylül University.

According to the archaeologist, the discovery is of lasting importance to the history of the area and will be of great interest to travelers who will want to see the monument.

Speaking to interviewers from the Anadolu News Agency, Yağcı said “For the first time, a memorial tomb has been unearthed linked to the archaeology of the ancient city of Soli Pompeiopolis.”

“Aside from more familiar structures, such as the colonnaded streets, the ancient port, the theater, and the bathhouse, something very unique has been found. This find brings dynamism to the ancient city and can influence tourism in the region – for both those interested in cultural heritage and general visitors to the region.”

The unearthing of the ruins has been ongoing since July 20 of 2020, Yağcı said. Showing photographs of the unique discovery, he indicated the two rows of hexagonal structures and arches around the memorial tomb that had been unearthed by his workers.

Aratus was a popular poet and astronomer in antiquity

The Greek poet and astronomer Aratus, in an illustration from the Renaissance era. His tomb was found at an ancient Greek site in Turkey. Credit: Public domain

“This place looks like a crater,” he explained, “and has a circular area (that could have been used by) an astronomer. We have also come across a solid and large monumental structure.”

Yağcı added that Aratus was widely known during both the Hellenistic and Roman periods and his works on astronomy, as well as his poetry, are still read and studied to this day.

Often, Aratus combined astronomy with poetry, creating unique works that were extremely popular in his time. He is best known for his work “Phenomena,” a hexameter poem that describes the constellations.

Additionally, he noted that NASA had named a crater on the moon after the brilliant Greek thinker, leading the archaeologist to hope that the tomb of the great man will one day be included on the UNESCO World Cultural Heritage List.

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