After Approximately 1,300 Years: The Fountain in the “Gladiator City” in Turkey is Operational Again
In the city of Burdur, known for its archaeological monuments in the western Anatolia region of Turkey, there is exciting news. After a nine-month restoration process, fresh and drinkable water is flowing once again from the magnificent fountain in the ancient city of Kibyra in the Gölhisar district of Burdur. The restoration of the monumental fountain in Kibyra, an ancient city discovered in 2016 and included in UNESCO’s World Heritage List in the same year, was carried out with the support of the Turkish Ministry of Culture and Tourism.
"Anadolu'dan Galata'ya Arkeolojik Kazılar Fotoğraf Sergisi" 17 Haziran-10 Temmuz tarihleri arasında Galata Kulesi 3. Kat Sergi Salonunda. Bekleriz. @muzeler_dairesi @ttkgovtr #galatakulesi pic.twitter.com/gb35tbOWYe— Kazılar ve Araştırmalar Dairesi Başkanlığı (@kazardb) June 17, 2023
The Ancient Fountain of Kibyra
The impressive 2,000-year-old fountain of Kibyra was built during the reign of the Roman Empire. The ancient structure, which includes two pools and is located on the third terrace of the ancient city of Kibyra, was constructed around 23 BCE when the city was rebuilt after a devastating earthquake. The fountain served the water needs of the city for nearly 700 years. With a height of 7.5 meters and a diameter of 15 meters, the fountain also features a carved canopy supported by columns. As the first fountain of Kibyra, this massive structure exemplifies the architectural and aesthetic visual appeal of the ancient city. Notably, each building within the fountain complex was symmetrically designed, creating a harmonious landscape.
Prominent Monuments in Kibyra
Upon entering Kibyra, visitors can find its renowned stadium, the Kibyra Stadium, considered one of the most magnificent in ancient Anatolia. Research suggests that the stadium, which could accommodate around 10,000 people, hosted epic gladiator competitions, earning Kibyra the title “City of Gladiators.” Other prominent structures in Kibyra include the odeon, a building for musical performances in Greek and Roman antiquity, including a mosaic of Medusa, a monstrous female figure from Greek mythology, which turns onlookers to stone, and the agora, a gathering place for the city’s population, serving as a marketplace and the center of life in the city.
Additional noteworthy monuments within the ancient city include the Roman baths and the ancient theater. According to ancient sources, Kibyra’s industries included agriculture, animal husbandry, medicine, ironworking, and ceramics. Additionally, the city had a cosmopolitan structure and four different languages, indicating its strong economy and military power.
The Restoration Process
Prof. Şükrü Özüdoğru, the head of the excavation committee, along with a team of archaeologists, restorers, and architects, participated in the extensive restoration process. During the excavation and restoration of the monumental fountain, which consists of two pools and 192 architectural blocks, including 168 original ones, it was determined that the fountain is composed of three main units. Observations indicated the existence of a circular tower rising from the center of the fountain, surrounded by six columns, with six lion and panther sculptures where the water spouted. Only two of these sculptures were discovered during the excavations and are currently on display at the Burdur Museum. Interestingly, this is not the only monumental fountain in ancient Burdur.
Another discovered fountain is the Antonin Fountain, dating back approximately 1,800 years, located in the ancient city of Sagalassos in the Ağlasun district of Burdur. With the completion of the restoration work, the fountain in Kibyra has become the second site showcasing a functional ancient fountain. In recent years, numerous historical artifacts have been unearthed and brought to museums in Turkey.