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Dolphin relief protocol chairs found in Kastabala Ancient City

Two ‘protocol seats’ with dolphin reliefs were found during the excavations in the theater area in Kastabala Ancient City in Osmaniye.

Kastabala Ancient City (AA)

During the excavations in the theater area of the Ancient City of Kastabala, the floor of the orchestra section was reached at a depth of 3.5 meters. The seven steps, podium and protocol seats with dolphin reliefs were unearthed in the cavea section of the underground theater.

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Head of excavations at Osmaniye Korkut Ata University, Dr. Faris Demir, says from the parts of the theater that were unearthed this season, it was understood that the theater had a capacity of at least 5,000 people.

Demir said, “More than 400 architectural finds unearthed from the theater area are qualified architectural blocks. 244 of them are the rows of seats and 150 of them are architectural pieces belonging to the stage building.”

A photo of Kastabala Ancient City (AA)

Four of the architectural blocks have inscriptions and some have relief masks.

In the theater area, dolphin figures are depicted on the two protocol chairs where the administrators or the notables of the city sit. In addition, the figure of Pan among the masks in the theater is important.

Demir said, “Pan and Satyr (half-human, half-goat mythological creature) figures are very popular in theater plays. Satyr plays were associated with both tragedy and comedy. The Satyr games exhibited at festivals in honor of Dionysus, the god of wine, show that these games are played at the city’s most complex and prestigious cultural events.”

Researchers plan to complete the excavation and start restoration work in 2024.

Kastabala Ancient City


Kastabala is located 12 km northwest of Osmaniye, in the region known as Çukurova (Cilicia) in the southeast of Anatolia. Kastabala was occupied by Hapur I in the 3rd century AD and by Balbinos in the 4th century AD. According to archaeological finds, the city lost its importance from the Middle and Late Byzantine periods. It failed to recover after the devastation of the Crusades and was abandoned shortly thereafter.

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