Glenn Maffia continues his roam around the Apollo Temple environs.

IT IS immensely gratifying to welcome back the archaeologists from the Martin Luther University of Halle under the direction of Prof. Helga Bumke.

We certainly missed them last year and hopefully they can make up for that lamentable lost time by succeeding to astonish us all with yet more evidence of Didyma’s ancient past.

Many facets of the profession

Though their endeavours are not restricted only to rolling back the pages of the past; a crucial function of their responsibilities also requires the ‘site management’ stratagems of maintaining the Temple and its environment.

In their absence this important feature was neglected last year and walking around the site, as I do so frequently, it is obviously beginning to show the tell-tale signs of such inattention.

For instance, it was on the archaeologist’s recommendation, if not insistence, that the road passing the Temple should be closed to all traffic, bar the emergency services.

Needless to say, no one heeds the signposts at both ends of the road; motor cycles of all description tear through there with a shameful recklessness, while if the barriers are down or the access point next to the mosque open, then cars, delivery lorries and tractors pulling their load have no qualms nor care about the damage they are cumulatively causing.

Locals can play a role

Actually, I believe the archaeologists missed a trick, for even if the people were a little more mature and adhered to the traffic regulations many locals continue to use the track which winds itself along the southern border of the Temple; past Oracle Pansion. That, confusingly, remains a through-road.

Certainly, the Pansion and the houses there require access, though placing some bollards around halfway down would prevent lazy drivers and lazy minds from destroying the Temple from this angle also.

Aydin Belediye fulfilled their obligations admirably, though I believe that having either a police or, probably more attainable, a zabita (council police) officer present should be enough to curtail this absent-minded vandalism upon both roads.

Inside Apollo’s sanctuary

Moving inside of the area designated as the tourist site, once we’ve paid our 10TL, one can observe the fragility of much that requires constant supervision.

The first thing I noticed was the recently installed wooden stairs descending into the site are warping and splitting due to the unending battering they receive from our summer sun.

Surely a lick of varnish, off-season, should prevail for the duration of the summer season.

The retaining boundary wall appears to be sloping ever further inwards and looks as if it is ready to tumble down at any moment.

The archaeologists went to great length to support the wall, below the café viewing area of the Oracle Pansion, with a heavy-duty casing of iron girders bedded into massive concrete blocks. That establishment would have surely tumbled into Apollo’s precinct by now if it were not for the German’s sterling work.

Whilst the concrete supports for the standing antique columns of the Temple would crumble and disintegrate if they are not saturated with water throughout the blistering months.

Thus, simple actions can easily remedy many of the disaster situations which confront the entire archaeological area. Does anyone have the gumption to do so, or is there no care for the one and only focal point of intellectual interest in Didim?