A total of 43 ancient mythological mask carvings have been found by archaeologists in Turkey’s ancient city of Stratonikeia that’s located in the Yatağan district of the southwestern province of Muğla. These 2,200-year-old carvings have been unearthed over the past two years with 33 of them already repaired and cleaned in preparation for the public to eventually view them.
In fact, many items from several different time periods have been unearthed at the 3,000-year-old ancient city that is now a part of the UNESCO World Heritage Tentative List. The excavation team, which is led by professor Bilal Söğüt of Pamukkale University, have already uncovered artifacts from the Hellenistic, Roman, Byzantine, Anatolian beyliks, Ottoman, and Republican periods.
The excavation team has been working on several different structures in the city that includes a 2,200-year-old ancient theater where the mask carvings have been discovered. “We have been working at the ancient theater for two years. We found 33 face molds during our excavations here. Today, we unearthed 10 more. Hopefully, we will be able to find all the masks at the theater in their own places and arrange them in their original order. That will be very pleasant for us,” Söğüt stated.
He went on to describe how in ancient times, the masks would have been all around the theater’s stage. “When people came here in ancient times, they were impressed by the splendor and magnificence of the theater even before entering it. We have been slowly uncovering its richness and splendor. This [is] also the value ancient people gave to culture, art and architecture,” he explained.
He added that in addition to the characters depicted in the plays, the masks also represented ancient gods/goddesses and even animals. Pictures of the mask carvings can be seen here.
While these masks were carved in stones, it wasn’t the only interesting mask discovery in western Turkey this year. A couple of months ago I wrote an article on a 2,400-year-old Terracotta mask depicting the Greek god Dionysus that was unearthed in the ancient city of Daskyleion that’s located in the Bandirma district of the Balikesir province. According to the archaeologist who led the excavation team, it was “possibly a votive mask” which means that it could have been used to express a wish or vow. (The article can be read in full here.)
There have certainly been some interesting discoveries unearthed in Turkey this year with possibly more to come.