Lonely Planet Writer

Gigantic Roman swimming pool discovered in Turkey to be unearthed within a year

An ancient European city is offering the present world a taste of the scale and magnificence of people’s lives in the Roman-era over 2100 years ago.

Aphrodisias - Antique City
Aphrodisias – Antique City Image by Getty Images

Aphrodisias, a Unesco World Heritage city in the Turkish province of Aydın’s Karacasu district, has thrown up a number of exceptionally well-preserved monumental structures from centuries ago. The most recent excavation centres on a giant swimming pool from that time, which is expected to be totally unearthed within a year.

The most recent excavation centres on a giant swimming pool.
The most recent excavation centres on a giant swimming pool. Image by AA

The city became a hotbed for excavations by foreign archaeologists over a century ago. Later, the probe into the past was continued by Professor Kenan Erim for over 30 years up to 1990. Following his death, the task of leading the work in Aphrodisias was taken over by Professor Roland R.R. Smith of Oxford University, the Hurriyet Daily News reports.  As one of the greatest architectural features in the area, the pool excavation is an important archaeological find as it offers vital data about life in such Roman cities over two millennia ago.

Professor Smith described Aphrodisias as a major archaeological discovery in global terms. The pool was originally partially excavated 36 years ago by Professor Erim but over the past five years, work recommenced to complete the project. The excavations are now close to completion, Professor Smith has revealed. He pointed out that the pool – dating back to the first century BC – was huge in comparison to the city’s size.

Cities, at that time, were in competition with each other to produce better architectural features. “This was why the giant pool was made,” he stressed. The pool was built in a park as a magnificent structure. His team gained huge knowledge from the ways the engineers of the time created it.  He said the park was unique as it was the only one from the Roman era. Professor Smith described it as a “combination of trees, noble architecture and water.” This recent find follows the most significant archaeological discovery in Turkey this year, when  a 2100-year-old sculpture of the mother goddess Cybele,  was unearthed on the Black Sea coast, earlier this summer.