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Environment

Ahmet Yaraş

Ahmet Yaraş Fights to Protect the Ancient City of Allianoi

On 25 November 2010, Sabancı Foundation's "Turkey's Changemakers" program hosts Ahmet Yaraş, an archaeologist who once worked to excavate the ancient city of Allianoi, now fights to protect Allianoi before it disappears underwater.

Dating back to 200 B.C., Allianoi in Turkey's Aegean region is one of the best-preserved ancient cities in the world after Pompei. Allianoi was known as a healing center throughout history; it was dedicated to Asclepius, the god of medicine and healing in ancient Greece. Throughout its history, a wide range of diseases was treated at the thermal springs through the healing power of water. Despite its touristic and historical significance, Allianoi is threatened by the construction of a dam: When the dam receives water, it will wash away 2.200 years of history.

Leading a team of archeologists, Yaraş discovered the remains of Allianoi in 1998. Throughout his years of hard work, 10.000 artifacts were unearthed, and the ancient city rose from the ashes.

But the excavation was stopped in 2006, and an irrigation project and a dam construction got underway. Although his archeological work was halted, Yaraş had no intention of stopping. Mobilizing civil society and the media, Yaraş started a campaign to raise awareness of the issue.

It was the healing power of water that gave Allianoi its historical importance, yet it is the power of water that threatens it. Yaraş, an undaunted defender of historical heritage, aims to stop the dam construction and return to Allianoi its historical importance.

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