A scarab, an Egyptian seal in the shape of a scarab beetle, has been discovered in the ancient city of Comana Pontica, located in northern Turkey's Tokat province. The seal could be up to 3,000 years old, according to initial observations, and it may shed light on the history of the region during the Hellenistic period.
Archeological work in the ancient city has been ongoing since 2004. The current excavation team is under the leadership of Burcu Erciyas, a professor at Middle East Technical University (METU). Erciyas believes that the recent discovery can reveal the international importance that the city of Comana held during the Hellenistic period.
“We have discovered many new findings in 2020 with extensive excavation work. Maybe the most interesting one of these has been the scarab from Egypt, which is a beetle-shaped seal or amulet adorned with hieroglyphic inscriptions. This is an important finding regarding Comana’s international relations,” Erciyas told Anadolu Agency (AA).
She also provided details on the age of the seal. “We studied the hieroglyphs on the seal and the inscribed name belonged to Thutmose III, the sixth pharaoh of the 18th Dynasty of Egypt, who ruled between the years of 1479 B.C. and 1429 B.C.,” Erciyas said. “There have been other scarabs of Thutmose III discovered in archeological sites, some even in Anatolia, which show that these amulets were used up until the fourth or fifth century B.C.”
Archeological digging and excavations in Comana Pontica have revealed centuries or even millennia-old history of ancient structures, monuments and works belonging to a wide range of historical states including the Ottoman, Seljuk and Roman periods. So far, a burial plot, churches and a settlement area have been unearthed.
It is believed that the ancient city was founded under the Kingdom of Pontus during the reign of Mithridates I in the Hellenistic period, the time between the death of Alexander the Great in 323 B.C. and the emergence of the Roman Empire around 31 B.C.
Comana Pontica was originally a sacred ground with a Hittite temple in its center dedicated to the goddess Ma, a local Anatolian goddess meaning “mother” who also bore the epithets “Invincible” and “Bringer of Victory.” The city became a center of trade and commerce in time and retained its independence during the rise of the Roman Empire. It attracted many visitors with its regular festivals, rich marketplace and fertile land.
Titled the Comana Pontica Archeological Research Project, the site has been under the archeological lens of METU and the Scientific and Technological Research Council of Turkey (TUBITAK). The work is still ongoing and excavations to further unearth the ancient city’s rich historical texture are underway.
Today, one can visit Comana Pontica in Gümenek village, 7 kilometers (4.3 miles) northeast of downtown Tokat, any day of the week without a fee.