An archaeological discovery in Turkey resulted in the unearthing of dozens of terracotta figurines depicting ancient Hellenic Gods, men, women, and animals. The artifacts, which are over 2,000 years old, were found in the ancient town of Myra, which is now called Demre, in Turkey. Some of the figurines incredibly still had paint on them, and others had inscriptions, providing archaeologists with a view of life in the region in the 1st and 2nd centuries BC.

Nevzat Çevik, the leader of the excavation team and Archaeology Professor at Akdeniz University in Turkey, told Live Science that “Myra is one of the most important ancient settlements in Lycia.” Myra remained an important site throughout history, as the ancient Hellenes, Romans, Byzantines, and later the Ottomans inhabited the town.

In the modern era, the town was home to a rich and vibrant Greek population that was forced to leave Turkey during the population exchange between Greece and the country in the 1920s. 

The figurines give “rich clues about what existed in the mysterious Myra under a thick silt layer in the first and second centuries BC,” Çevik added.

The archaeological team was excavating parts of a 4th-century Roman theater between June and October of 2020 when they suddenly unearthed a second, smaller theater below the Roman remains. The older structure underneath dates back to the Hellenistic period, from 323 BC — at the time of the death of Alexander the Great — to the beginning of the Roman Empire in 30 BC.

What the researchers found was the massive collection of terracotta figurines scattered amongst the remains, along with the Hellenistic theater.

“It is as if the people of ancient Myra were resurrected and ran through the time tunnel all together and came to our day,” Çevik told his team when they found the figurines. There is an almost uncountable number of ancient Hellenic and Byzantine archaeological and historical sites in Turkey, many of which attract hundreds of thousands, even millions, of visitors every year.

Many of them are landmarks not to be missed by any travelers to Turkey, and they should especially not be missed by Greek travelers, since they are incontrovertible evidence of their people’s long, rich history and contributions to Western civilization.