Parliament of the World's First Elected Government Being Unearthed in Turkey
PATARA, Turkey - Alexander the Great was here, and so was Saint Paul, on his way to Ephesus. Centuries later, the drafters of the American Constitution took the ancient Lycian League, which was based here, as an early example - in fact, it was history's earliest example - of the form of republican government they envisaged as well.
The Lycian League was mentioned twice in the Federalist Papers, once by Alexander Hamilton, once by James Madison, so it could safely be said that it entered into the history of the formation of the United States.
Now, after centuries of neglect, teams of Turkish and German archaeologists have been working under the hot sun of this small Mediterranean seacoast town, uncovering some of its treasures.
Among them, liberated from the many hundreds of truckloads of sand that covered it, is the actual parliament building where the elected representatives of the Lycian League met. It has rows of stone seats arranged in a semicircle, the same arrangement used in the chambers of the American Congress. Its stone-vaulted main entrances are intact, and so is the thronelike perch where the elected Lyciarch, the effective president of the League, sat.
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