Despite being unearthed some 18 years ago, the valuable historical artifact has only just been put on public display. The mosaic, depicting the ancient harbor city of Kelenderis, is garnering worthy platitudes from archeologists.
Levent Zoroğlu, a lecturer with the archeology department of the Selçuk University art and science faculty, describing the mosaic claims it has no equivalent on earth. Zoroğlu said: “We estimate that the mosaic was made around the year 500. The Kelenderis mosaic, also known as the ‘inn ruin,’ is one of the most important discoveries because the landscape depicted exists on no other mosaic.”
The illustration is considered by the experts to be the oldest city plan in the world and that of the original city of Kelenderis, located in present-day Aydıncık. The Mediterranean port city used to be known as Gilindire, derived from Kelenderis, and is thought to have been founded by the Phoenicians, a maritime civilization active in the first millennium B.C. and referred to in the Bible.
The ancient city of Kelenderis was at its peak between the fifth and fourth centuries B.C. and, avoiding both Persian domination and ascending as a major maritime trade route during the Roman Empire, became an important naval gateway to Cyprus and Africa during the Byzantine era. It thrived also during Ottoman times before losing its status to nearby Mersin from the 19th century onwards.
The large landscape mosaic shows the waterfront buildings and three ships under sail, surrounded by colorful geometric patterns. “Not only is it one of the very few landscape mosaics ever found, but it was found next to the harbor it depicts,” says Professor Zoroğlu.
The Kelenderis mosaic is now being made available to the public, with the support of the Ministry of Culture and Tourism, and will be exhibited, under the watchful eye of security guards, next to Aydıncık Harbor.