Memorial Tomb of Ancient Greek Astronomer Aratus Unearthed in Turkey



The Ancient Greek city of Soli Pompeiopoils, in present-day Turkey, the site of the newly-discovered memorial tomb of the Greek astronomer and poet Aratus. Credit: Cultural Heritage TR/Twitter

Archaeologists working in the ancient Greek city of Soli Pompeipolis in the southern Mersin province in Turkey have unveiled the memorial tomb of the Greek poet and astronomer Aratus, who was born in 315 BC.

The city, located in the ancient region of Paphlagonia, was still prominent during Roman times but was only rediscovered in the 1800s with the unearthing of the ruins of Zımbıllı Tepe in the Black Sea region of the country.

The Greek poet and astronomer Aratus, in an illustration from the Renaissance era. Credit: Public domain

Soli Pompeipolis, lying just across the river from Taşköprü, in the Gökırmak (Greek: Amnias) Valley, in ancient times stretched as far as the Küre and Ilgaz mountains

The tomb of the gifted poet and astronomer is being excavated by Professor Remzi Yağcı, who is the head of the Department of Museology at Turkey’s Dokuz Eylül University.

According to the archaeologist, the discovery is of lasting importance to the history of the area and will be of great interest to travelers who will want to see the monument. Speaking to interviewers from the Anadolu News Agency, Yağcı said “For the first time, a memorial tomb has been unearthed linked to the archaeology of the ancient city of Soli Pompeiopolis.

“Aside from more familiar structures, such as the colonnaded streets, the ancient port, the theater, and the bathhouse, something very unique has been found. This find brings dynamism to the ancient city and can influence tourism in the region – for both those interested in cultural heritage and general visitors to the region.”

The unearthing of the ruins has been ongoing since July 20 of this year, Yağcı said. Showing photographs of the unique discovery, he indicated the two rows of hexagonal structures and arches around the memorial tomb that had been unearthed by his workers.

“This place looks like a crater,” he explained, “and has a circular area (that could have been used by) an astronomer. We have also come across a solid and large monumental structure.”

Yağcı added that Aratus was widely known during both the Hellenistic and Roman periods and his works on astronomy, as well as his poetry, are still read and studied to this day.

Additionally, he noted that NASA had named a crater on the moon after the brilliant Greek thinker, leading the archaeologist to hope that the tomb of the great man will one day be included on the UNESCO World Cultural Heritage List.