Archaeologists from the Asia Minor Research Center have unearthed the municipal archive of the ancient city, revealing more than 2,000 seal impressions used to seal documents.
The team, led by Prof. Dr. Michael Blömer and Prof. Dr. Engelbert Winter from the University of Münster, has made a significant find. While each city had archives for storing contracts, until now, only a few Roman Empire archive buildings had been identified. Well-preserved seal impressions and their motifs also provide insights into ancient administrative practices.
The seal impressions are made of stamped clay pieces ranging in size from approximately five millimeters to two centimeters. They were used to seal papyrus and parchment documents.
The images on the city’s official seals have a direct connection to it. They usually depict their most important gods, such as Jupiter Dolichenus, the city’s main deity, explains Michael Blömer.
The impressions from smaller private seals display a wide range of images and symbols that reveal much about the culture of Doliche’s inhabitants. The gods on the seals offer a glimpse into the religious environment of the people. Mythical figures or rare private portraits indicate a strong Greco-Roman influence, explains the scientist.
Only the lower layers of the foundation of the archive building remain, constructed with massive limestone blocks, according to Engelbert Winter. However, they reveal a sequence of rooms that connect to form an elongated complex building, he describes.
The exact size cannot be determined yet, but it has been confirmed that the building is eight meters wide and 25 meters long. The width of the walls also suggests multiple stories. The international research team discovered parts of the building over an eight-week period last summer.
The documents in the archive itself were destroyed in a massive fire. In 253 A.D., the Persian Great King Shapur I destroyed numerous cities in the Roman province of Syria as a result of a war between the Roman Empire and Persia, including Doliche.
The city center, which also included a bath complex and a monumental temple, was not rebuilt after the fire. This is a stroke of luck for archaeology, as it means that the state of the era has been preserved until 253 A.D., emphasize the researchers.
The Asia Minor Research Center has specialized in the research of southeastern Turkey for decades. As a prominent international research institution for the provinces of Gaziantep and Adıyaman, Münster’s experts collaborate with local museums, researchers, and authorities.
Since 1997, the Asia Minor Research Center, in collaboration with the Turkish Directorate of Antiquities, has been investigating the remains of the ancient city of Doliche (modern-day Dülük), near the Turkish metropolis of Gaziantep in the southern part of the country. The experts aim to examine the development of the city, founded around 300 B.C., which became a regional center under Roman rule, and the daily life of people under changing political and cultural conditions.
This year’s work was primarily supported by the University of Münster, the Gerda Henkel Foundation, and the University of Pisa.
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