Story By: Feza Uzay, Sub-Editor: Marija Stojkoska, Agency: Newsflash
These photos show incredible, intact stone-carved theatre masks representing comedy and tragedy that have been unearthed in the ancient theatre of a 2,500-year-old city.
Excavations in the ancient city of Castabala, which is located in the southern Turkish province of Osmaniye and has survived to this day with its colonnaded main street, theatre, baths, churches and castle, began two years ago.
In the area around the ancient city’s theatre, which dates back to 500 BC and was mostly excavated last year, 10 theatre-mask carvings have recently been unearthed.
Local media have reported that the carvings represent the plays staged at that time, with the sullen faces depicting tragedies and the smiling ones representing comedies.
Osmaniye Korkut Ata University (OKU) Department of Archeology faculty member Dr Faris Demir, who led the dig, said that the ancient city of Castabala is the most important and only sacred city in Cilicia, a geo-cultural region with over six million inhabitants whose ancient settlements date from the Neolithic to the Bronze Age.
Dr Demir said: “In 2020, we started excavations in the theatre area, which is the most important structure of the city. In a short period of two years, we have revealed a large part of the theatre.”
The archaeologist said that the orchestra pit, the stage, the parodos (the passageways on either side of the orchestra pit) had been largely exposed.
He added: “Many architectural pieces belonging to the theatre were moved to the stone sorting area for restoration and conservation purposes. One of the important remains we found is the inscribed statue ground dedicated to the Roman Emperor Hadrian by the people’s assembly.”
Dr Demir revealed that the unearthing of the 10 theatre-mask carvings in the theatre generated excitement and joy within the team.
He said: “These masks represent the drama and comedy plays performed in the theatre. The masks depicted for comedy plays have funny expressions, while those depicted for drama plays have fearful or sad expressions. There is also a relief of Pan, an Ancient Greek God.”
The archaeologist added: “We are excavating a theatre from the Roman Imperial Period, but the increase in the number of qualified finds dating to the Neolithic Period in the fill soil from the upper part of the theatre shows that Castabala has been an important centre since prehistoric times. We will carry out our excavation work in the coming years.”