Archaeology

Rare Iron Roman Cavalry Face Mask Discovered At Hadrianopolis, Turkey

An 1,800 year old Roman soldier’s cavalry face mask has been discovered at a 3rd century AD military site in Turkey. But this site isn’t located in the heart of the Roman empire, but at a far flung outpost in modern Turkey – Hadrianopolis.

Researchers from Turkey’s Karabük University discovered the 1,800-year-old iron Roman face mask in a fortified building in the ancient city of Hadrianopolis, near Paphlagonia in the Eskipazar district of Turkey’s northern Karabük province. The site is thought to have been a Roman garrison, and it is located not far from the eastern edge of the great Roman Empire.

The city of Hadrianopolis is also known as Caesarea and Proseilemmene and is famous for being the birthplace of two saints: Alypios the Stylite, and Stylianos of Paphlagonia. The city was founded as Hadrianopolis after the Roman emperor Hadrian, and it thrived between the 1st and 8th centuries BC. The discovery of the iron calvary mask further illustrates Roman influence in this region of Turkey in the early 3rd century AD.

The 1800-year-old Roman iron calvary mask recently unearthed in the ancient “garrison” city of Hadrianopolis in Turkey. (YouTube screenshot / DHA)

The 1800-year-old Roman iron calvary mask recently unearthed in the ancient “garrison” city of Hadrianopolis in Turkey. (YouTube screenshot / DHA)

A Year Of Roman Archaeological Treasures at Hadrianopolis

Archaeologists have been excavating at Hadrianopolis since 2003 and so far they have uncovered 14 individual structures. According to an article in the Daily Mail the discoveries at the site includes “two baths, two churches, a theatre, rock tombs, a monumental niche, a villa and the square,” and the building in which the Roman cavalry mask was discovered.

The ancient city is often referred to as “Zeugma of the Black Sea” after its vast number of Roman Christian floor mosaics. According to a report in Gazete Global many animals such as horses, elephants, panthers, deer and griffins are depicted here. And all of this has been discovered in the last year.

 

A Turkish man wearing the Roman iron calvary mask recently found at Hadrianopolis, Turkey. (YouTube screenshot / DHA)

A Turkish man wearing the Roman iron calvary mask recently found at Hadrianopolis, Turkey. (YouTube screenshot / DHA)

Tracking The Legacy Of Roman Soldiers In Turkey

In the 2nd century BC, following the era of Alexander the Great , ancient Anatolia consisted of several independent kingdoms, some of which had direct dealings with the Roman Republic. Istanbul ( Byzantium) became a key city in the Roman Empire. Dr Çelikbaş explained that Rome built this military base at the furthest eastern limits of the empire to defend against invasions from the Black Sea region.

Lead archaeologist Ersin Çelikbaş of Karabük University told Gazete Global that the building in which the iron mask was found was “fortified.” This led the team of researchers to suspect that it was most probably a Roman garrison . This idea is supported in ancient text sources that mention a military base at Hadrianopolis. Dr Çelikbaş added that during the most recent excavations the team found new “important data” regarding the presence of the Roman Empire in the region.

Some claim the “Mona Lisa” of Roman mosaics are those at Hadrianopolis, Turkey, where the iron Roman calvary mask was recently discovered. (YouTube screenshot / Anadolu Agency)

Some claim the “Mona Lisa” of Roman mosaics are those at Hadrianopolis, Turkey, where the iron Roman calvary mask was recently discovered. (YouTube screenshot / Anadolu Agency )

A Boost To Tourism Is Just What’s Needed Here

All this comes only a year after the Daily Sabah interviewed Karabük Governor Fuat Gürel, who said the ancient city of Hadrianopolis is “of great importance for the history of the region.” He said the area was visited by “hundreds” of tourists every year. Gürel was speaking after the discovery of more church floor mosaics , which he hoped would up the tourist figures this year.

Turkey’s Ministry of Culture and Tourism has petitioned for the ancient city of Hadrianopolis to be “transformed into ruins and opened to tourism.” To make this happen a team of 43 people, consisting of students, academics, and experts, were working at the site last summer.

The archaeologists working on the discovery of the Roman military garrison building in which the mask was found said many smaller finds at the site will be taken to museums in the surrounding provinces, but larger, immovable discoveries, will be preserved in situ.

Top image: A Turkish archaeologist holding up the 1800-year-old iron Roman cavalry mask found at the ancient garrison town of Hadrianopolis, Turkey. Source: YouTube screenshot / DHA

By Ashley Cowie


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