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Archaeological interpretation and presentation of the pilgrimage site of Pisidian Antioch (Yalvaç)

2020
Gökcü, Merve
Increasing public awareness towards cultural heritage sites is one of the main factors positively affecting conservation of cultural heritage sites and their recognition by larger audiences. There are two main factors to be considered in promoting the awareness of the general public towards cultural heritage sites: the understanding of the physical, social and historical characteristics of these sites, and the level of interaction between heritage sites and their users (local people, visitors, and other target groups). In this context, the recognition and understanding of archaeological sites by the general public is particularly challenging due to a lack of elementary knowledge about the historical periods archaeological sites belong in, and the poor visual impact of some archaeological sites that are in a ruinous state. Taking into consideration the relationship between public awareness and (sustainable) conservation, this study aims to seek for effective methods of interpretation and presentation to promote general public awareness towards archaeological sites by focusing, in particular, on the interpretation and presentation methods targeting the cognitive abilities of people and their interaction with archaeological sites. As can be observed at a number of other archaeological sites in Turkey (and elsewhere), Pisidian Antioch has lost its physical integrity to a great extent, and has not been adopted and appreciated by the public, especially by local residents. However, as far as the geographical, physical, social and historical characteristics of the site are concerned, Pisidian Antioch differs from its contemporaries. As a city founded in the Hellenistic period and later colonized by the Romans, Pisidian Antioch is a significant example, reflecting the features of Hellenistic town planning and Roman building techniques and materials. More importantly, the existence of a Latin copy of the renowned Res Gestae Divi Augusti, as well as the location and role of the site through the missionary itineraries of St. Paul, have made this site internationally significant. These features bestow an outstanding character to Pisidian Antioch, reflecting both the power of the imperial cult of the Roman Empire and the spiritual and religious importance of a pilgrimage site. These features bestow an outstanding character to Pisidian Antioch, reflecting both the power of the imperial cult of the Roman Empire and the spiritual and religious importance of a pilgrimage site. Even today, the site protects its character as a place of pilgrimage. In addition to these characteristics, the landscape in which the archaeological site is located includes other heritage places, such as the sanctuary of Mên and the modern town of Yalvaç: these sites are both historically and physically connected to Pisidian Antioch. This coexistence offers a historical continuity throughout this wide, open landscape. Despite these characteristics giving Pisidian Antioch significant and international importance, the archaeological site has yet to receive the recognition it merits from wider audiences, especially the local residents of Yalvaç. In this context, this study investigates the values and opportunities offered by the site, as well as the threats to its survival and (sustainable) conservation, in an attempt to offer proposals for a better interpretation and presentation of Pisidian Antioch in its current physical and social context, and foster wider recognition of this unique archaeological site.