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Archaeology clashes with development in Turkey's ancient city of Sagalassos

Excavated since 1990 by Belgian and Turkish archaeologists, Sagalassos offers not only a visit through majestic Roman monuments but also a glimpse on how people lived, worked, worshipped and died in the past.

Sagalassos is one of the best-preserved ancient cities of Turkey and one of the best kept archaeological secrets of the Mediterranean. Its secluded position, nested at an elevation of 1,500 meters (or about 5,000 feet) in the Taurus mountains in southwestern Anatolia, makes it difficult to reach for archaeologists and tourists alike. Laid out over natural terraces on a slope, in wintertime it is often covered with snow, further enhancing its peaceful and picturesque atmosphere.

Since 1990, it has been excavated by a mission led by the Catholic University of Leuven in Belgium. The Sagalassos Archaeological Research Project, which has both Turkish and international members, has, over the years, become a model of interdisciplinary research and interaction with the local community. It is also a fierce battleground between the diverging needs of scientists concerned with preservation and politicians yearning for development.

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