Polish diplomat uncovers ruins of ancient Byzantine city in Turkey

Robert D. Rokicki found the remains of the city of Thebasa which archaeologists and historians had been attempting to locate for centuries

editor: Grzegorz Adamczyk
author: deon.pl
via: deon.pl
Source: Robert D. Rokicki's private archive/TVP2

A diplomat at the Polish embassy in Ankara claims to have discovered that the legendary Byzantine fortress of Thebasa was located in the same area as the modern village of Pinarkaya in south central Anatolia, Turkey.

Polish diplomat and amateur historian, Robert D. Rokicki, explained that he had traveled to the area as part of a humanitarian project meant to fund the purchase of prosthetics and rehabilitation for a girl who lost her legs during a bombing in Aleppo. He added that while in the area he had a “look around” as historic archeological mysteries have been a long-held passion of his.

“In reality, I was searching for a different area, connected to the popular legend about the seven dreamers. The discovery of Thebasa was quite accidental,” he said.

Rokicki referred to the ancient Roman historian Pliny who had written that Thebasa was located in the Taurus mountains and was one of the most prominent cities in the province of Lycaonia. Nevertheless, due to often conflicting and sparse information, the city was searched for in different areas which were often miles apart.

When the Polish diplomat reached Pinarkaya he learned that the village’s old name was Divaz which phonetically in Turkish sounded very similarly to Thebasa.

He further explained that other clues led to the discovery. On the edge of the village there is a hill which holds the remnants of fortifications and possessed traces of a temple which were larger than anything else. There were also remains of other Byzantine buildings, such as cisterns.

Rokicki explained that the city once lay at the crossroads of important trading routes and amidst wide fields which were bountifully supplied with water and could feed a large population. This encouraged the idea that the ruins were indeed the ancient city.

The diplomat published his discovery in the “Gephyra” periodical published by the Akdeniz University Mediterranean Language and Culture Research Center.

Professor Stephen Mitchell, who is one of the most renowned researchers of Asia Minor and a member of the British academy, stated that Rokicki’s discovery had “resolved the great mystery of Asia Minor’s geographic history and added a completely new chapter to the history of the wars between the Byzantines and the Arabs in 10th and 11th centuries.”

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