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Why Was the Ancient Greek City of Hadrianopolis Suddenly Abandoned?

hadrianopolis ancient greek city abandoned
Hadrianopolis, an ancient Greek city in Asia Minor, was mysteriously abandoned. Credit: Carole Raddato/Wikimedia Commons/CC BY-SA 2.0

Archaeologists believe they will soon solve the mystery regarding the ancient Greek city of Hadrianopolis, located in the Eskipazar district of the Black Sea province of Karabuk, Turkey, which was mysteriously abandoned.

Ibrahim Sahin, the culture and tourism director of Karabuk, and Ersin Celikbas, an archaeology professor at Karabuk University, have been in charge of investigating the site.

According to the researchers, Hadrianopolis was suddenly abandoned completely at some point in the seventh century AD.

“[…]excavations revealed that there was a sudden evacuation in the ancient city. We are trying to find out the reason—whether an earthquake happened, an invasion occurred or a big fire broke out. But we can certainly say that life here ended in the 7th century. There was not even a single person left in the ancient city,” Celikbas said to Hurriyet Daily News last year.

The archeologist recounted that their excavations have unearthed a church, one of the oldest in Anatolia, with mosaics dating back to the fifth century AD.

Important mosaics found at abandoned ancient Greek city Hadrianopolis

“We found very important figures on the mosaics. We found a panel with one bull figure, one lion figure and two peacocks. When we look at similar examples of these figures in Anatolia, the most complete example is the mosaic that we found in Hadrianopolis this year. We think that the church was dedicated to Roman emperors,” Celikbas explained.

“It is a very important ancient city and a ‘mosaic haven,’ because Hadrianopolis is known mostly for its mosaics. We can say that it is the most important city in the western Black Sea region. It was the center of eparchy in the ancient ages,” he related.

Hadrianopolis ancient greek city abandoned
The ancient theater at the city of Hadrianopolis. Credit: Carole Raddato/Wikimedia Commons/ CC BY-SA 2.0

“Notable religious functionaries lived here. This year’s works unearthed many small findings from the 6th century. We are about to get more important results in our works. We are about to solve the mystery of the ancient city,” Celikbas declared.

Hadrianopolis was inhabited in the late Hellenistic, Roman, and early Byzantine periods. Surface surveys have uncovered a total of 14 public buildings and other structures in the city.

Two baths, two churches, a defense structure, rock tombs, a theater, an arched and domed structure, a monumental cultic niche, walls, a villa, other monumental buildings, and several religious buildings were found at the ancient site.

There is an almost innumerable number of ancient Greek and Byzantine archaeological and historical sites in Turkey, many of which attract hundreds of thousands, even millions, of visitors every year.

Many of them are landmarks not to be missed by travelers to Turkey, and they should especially not be missed by Greek travelers since they are incontrovertible evidence of their people’s long, rich history and contributions to Western civilization.

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