Last summer I visited Uzuncaburç, an ancient settlement with a handful of local inhabitants located in Silifke distict of Mersin province four kilometers from the larger ancient regional capitol of Olba. A Hellensitic settlement which served as a place of worship within the Olba territory, what I found compelling visiting this place was the vivid exchange between the contemporary and the ancient.
The individual employed to run the site resides adjacent to a large Hellentistic stone structure, a scattering of houses at the outskirts make up both an ancient city and a contemporary (if aging) village.
Cables carrying the electricity which powers the village sneak across the tops of these images.
The lines between conservation, restoration, and ‘modern’ habitation are fuzzy here.
During the time of Roman Emperor Vespesianus this settlement separated from Olba, and became it’s own city under the name Diokaesareia, and produced its own currency.
Local residents are friendly and eager to interact. We bought some sumac from the woman who had collected and gathered it; she pointed out the bushes to us. We also bought an St. Johns wort oil salve, also from the same woman, who had also prepared it herself (including the olive oil base).
The muhtar, also the site director and ticket vendor, is eager to snap pictures of tourists and explain the layout of the city.
If you can keep up with him, he’s a useful tour guide to orient you because there is relatively little signage, and there was had been sun-bleached beyond legibility.
Uzuncaburç is only reachable by car.