Cybele, a goddess revered by ancient civilizations in Turkey, has made a striking comeback in the country as a newly unearthed statue dedicated to her has attracted large crowds.
Local authorities said some 10,000 people visited the Kurul Citadel in the Black Sea city of Ordu after the 2,100-year-old statue was discovered during excavations there.
Culture tourism or visits to archeological sites, especially those predating Turkish (Ottoman, Seljuk) rule is not very popular in the country, and thus, the record number of visitors has both surprised and pleased local authorities. The tourist numbers might well increase in the future as the excavations in Ordu are the first of their kind in the eastern part of the Black Sea, that, like the rest of Turkey, has hosted a diverse array of civilizations throughout history.
Cybele, an Anatolian mother goddess, is the symbol of prosperity, with her pregnant belly seated on her throne. In Anatolian mythology she was the personification of earth. In Greek mythology, in which she was equated to Earth-goddess Gaia, Cybele was mostly associated with fertility, mountains, town and city walls, as well as wild animals such as lions.
The 200-kilogram heavy and 110-centimeter tall statue was discovered seated on a pedestal in the form of a throne in the ancient citadel some 13 kilometers from central Ordu. Visitors take a 300-step stairway to reach the excavation site.
Ordu Mayor Enver Yılmaz said on his social media account that he was pleased that fellow residents of the Black Sea region are interested in seeing the statue and said earmarking a larger budget for excavation at the citadel compared to previous years has apparently paid off.
The ancient artifact was unearthed in excavations launched by a team of 25 archeologists led by the head of the Department of Archeology at Gazi University, Professor Süleyman Yücel Şenyurt. "According to our research, the statue remained intact after the walls of the entrance of the fortress of Kurul collapsed during an invasion by Roman soldiers. This statue has also shown us that the fortress of Kurul in Ordu was a very important settlement [in ancient times]," Professor Şenyurt said.