Blaundus in western Turkey reveals beautiful painted necropolis
New excavations at the site of Blaundus in western Turkey are shedding light on the burial practices of ancient Asia Minor. Blaundus was a major city during the Roman and Byzantine periods and the seat of numerous bishops during the early years of Christianity. As reported in Smithsonian Magazine, recent excavations have exposed as many as 400 rock-cut tombs dating to around 1,800 years ago. Several of the tombs contain intricate painted murals depicting vines, animals, and even Roman gods.
The earliest tombs, which date to the second century C.E., were simple chambers cut into the side of a prominent cliff face at the site. As the original chambers became overcrowded with generations of burials, additional rooms were dug further back into the cliff, creating intricate multiroom systems, with their openings covered by massive marble doors. Many of the tombs also contain large amounts of grave goods, such as jewelry, mirrors, coins, and oil lamps which were intended to help the departed on their journey in the afterlife. Evidence suggests that many of the tombs were in use until the fourth century.
Originally founded by one of Alexander the Great’s commanders, Blaundus was an important Hellenistic and Roman city. Today, it contains a wealth of archaeological wonders that have only begun to be explored. In addition to the massive necropolis that sheds light on the burial practices of ancient Asia Minor, Blaundus contains many other impressive structures, including temples, a theater, a public bath, aqueducts, a stadium, and even a monumental building that has earned the nickname “Anatolia’s Stonehenge” because of its uncanny resemblance to the British monument.
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