Pinar AYKAC / Guliz Bilgin ALTINOZ
(Middle East Technical University, Ankara, Turkey)


Presentation of invisible historical layers in current towns specifically concentrating on the town center of Tarsus, Turkey


Historic towns are the outcomes of continuous inhabitance from early ages onwards reflecting the physical continuity of elements from successive periods. However, this physical continuity is usually susceptible to urban development due to the negligence of urban archaeology in planning process and by new interventions. Thus, the elements of these successive historical layers become both physically and mentally invisible within the visible modern city. At this point, definition of presentation principles for revealing the invisible historical layers becomes a key issue.

Tarsus is a historic town located on the southern part of Turkey, which has been inhabited from the Neolithic era onwards embracing various edifices from Ottoman, Early Republican and contemporary periods. However, due to the urban development strategies disregarding the entire historical development process of the town; the Hellenistic, Roman and Medieval Tarsus become invisible periods of the current town and can be evaluated as lost cities both for the town planners and inhabitants, resulting with the eradication of the traces of these lost cities by improper interventions.

The paper focuses on the presentation of invisible historical layers in current towns specifically concentrating on the case of Tarsus. Since presentation of lost cities need a comprehensive analysis and deeper understanding of the town’s urban history; in the first part of the paper, reconstruction of these lost layers of Tarsus are prepared by analyzing various documents such as historic maps, old photographs, salvage excavation reports, or aerial photographs, and the areas representing the traces or remains of these periods are identified. In the second part, presentation principles are put forward for the representation of these invisible layers in town scale. The third part concentrates on the presentation of the remains or traces of these invisible layers in the town center of Tarsus. In the conclusion part, the importance of the presentation of these invisible historical layers is emphasized in order to make these lost cities visible.


urban archaeology, historical stratification, presentation principles, design interventions, Tarsus