Ancient stadiums in Turkey
Magnesia ad Maeandrum




Other names: ./.
Roman province: Caria
Location: Tekinköy, Germencik county, Province Aydın
Capacity: ca. 30.000 spectators
Dimensions: Length: 200 m
Width: 85 m

Still in 1984 one could only guess that there had been a stadium in the horseshoe-shaped depression in the eastern part of the former city area. Only the shape of the depression suggested a stadium. Today, one can clearly see how powerful the deposits of the last centuries were or still are.
In 1985 Prof. Dr. Orhan Bingöl from the University of Ankara took over the management of the excavations in Magnesia on behalf of the Ministry of Culture of Turkey. The excavations at the stadium began in 2004. One can hardly imagine on the basis of our photos which enormous amounts of sand and clay had to be removed in order to reveal the structures of the stadium visible today.
The stadium built in the 1st century A.D. offered space for about 30,000 spectators. It was the venue for running competitions, horse races, boxing fights and, in the Roman Empire, possibly gladiator games in honour of the Emperor and the city goddess Artemis.

The history of Magnesia ad Maeandrum:  

According to legend, the town of Magnesia was founded a generation before the Trojan War by magnets from Thessaly. By Alexander the Great magnesia became Macedonian, fell to various Diadochi, became selective and experienced its cultural heyday with the kingdom of Pergamum in the 2nd century BC. Magnesia is mentioned in the works of Herodotus, Diodorus Siculus and Pausanias, among others. A war with Miletus was ended in 196 B.C. by a peace treaty, after 190 B.C. the city was liberated by the Romans.

In 133 B.C. magnesia was bequeathed to the Roman Empire. Destroyed by an earthquake in 17 A.D., the city was rebuilt by the Roman Emperor Tiberius within twelve years from his own means. As early as 114 A.D. there was an early Christian community there, which regularly sent its bishops to the councils in the following centuries. After the conquest and plunder by the Goths in 262 AD, Magnesia, like the neighbouring villages of Ephesus and Miletus, could never fully recover. Although it still became a Byzantine bishop's town and received a ring wall against the onslaught of Persians and Seljukes, it was little more than a Byzantine border fortress. As a result of floods, epidemics and other plagues, Magnesia was gradually abandoned by its last inhabitants and fell into decay.

In the course of the large excavation campaigns in Asia Minor by French, German and British scientists, magnesia was also rediscovered. In the years 1891-1893, excavations were carried out by the Berlin museums under the direction of Carl Humann, during which the remains of the Temple of Zeus and the Temple of Artemis of Hermogenes were uncovered. After the completion of the first excavation campaign in 1893, the excavations were suspended until 1984.
The alluvial sediments and the loam layers removed by rainwater, some up to 4-5 m thick, covered the excavated areas and buildings with earth again. Magnesia was forgotten for almost a hundred years, although important research work on Hermogenes was carried out during this time. Since 1984, the University of Ankara has been carrying out new excavations under the direction of Prof. Dr. Orhan Bingöl.

View 1984  
The Stadium 2015  

© Prof. Dr. Orhan Bingöl


The transition from the rows of seats to the base of the arena was decorated in places with relief panels showing scenes from the competitions. Some of these reliefs have been preserved and can still be admired in their original form on site.   

Photos: @chim, Monika P., Prof. Dr. Orhan Bingöl    
Translation aid:    
Source: Wikipedia and others