Birth place of the goddess of love


One of the first remnants in the city is the 3,2 km. long city wall which was constructed in 260 BC. You may see the Sebastian complex after you leave the museum behind. This gorgeous and matchless monument had been dedicated to the first Roman Emper or Julius-Claudius's family, that is to Augustus, Tiberius, Claudius and Nero. This monument has an enterance facing west and its buildings stretch out to the east. Not far from here there is a 3-story building whose sides can be easly viewed. The col umns carrying this structure had been covered with wall panels with orijinal reliefs. These masterpieces covering a rich collection created by Aphrodisian sculptors are now waiting the day they will be exhibited. When we follow the pathway, the thea tre greets us. The neighboring arena circled by columns is mentioned as Tetrastoon. This open field had been used as a market place in the old times.

Aphrodisias theatre is especially crucial among Anatolian theatres. Its construction date is back in the year 1 BC. Only the first floor of the stage building, which used to have 3 floors constructed with different architectural styles, is standing today. Their restoration is still continuing. The theatre had been constructed by Emperor Sear and Augustus's freed slave Zoilos, and was dedicated to Aphrodithe and to the local people, as it is deduced from the inscription s carved on the columns of the first floor. The name "archives wall " come from the inscriptions on the stones to the right of the stage. These are generally emperor letters covering the privileges and honors granted to the city and the agreements made by neighboring citie s.

The orchestra section in the form of a half circle in the middle of the theatre had been deepened and turned into an arena (konistra) by emperor Marcus Aurelius. When we continue to the west, down on the right a gorgeous pool comes into view. The p ool surrounded by columns mentioned as ''Tiberius's ponico is 1,2 meters deep. It was constructed in 2 AC in order to control a spring that found its way to the face of the earth due to a powerful earthquake. A great number of contemporary researchers and archeologists share the view that the place could have been a gymnasium.

The large area in the northern part of the portico is the agora that is the heart of city's economy.. It is a structure built mostly for musical events. Eventually it was also serving the purpose of holding public speech and literature competitions. Moreover, it was functioning as the parliament building of the city. Odeon was constructed in 2 AC and the floor of the circular orchestra section was covered with mosaics; The stage building was decorated with magnificent sculptures. Archelogists found many unfinished statue pieces and sculpturing tools during the excavations done in the area between Odeon and Aphrodithe temple. For this reason the place is considered as the famous sculpture school of Aphrodithe in archaic ages.

Aphrodisian sculpture school is an important atelier that was productive between the years 1 BC and 6 AC. Production of statues here had continued till late archaic ages, event hough the other schools in Anatolia had ceased to exist in the same per iod. Some masterpieces have the signatures of their creators who are especially experts in relief and sarcophagus production. Many sarcophagi were decorated with lively reliefs, symbolizing the desire to deny the emptiness of death and its eternal d arkness. These sculptors imposed their creative mastery over iron and marble. Iron tools and instruments were to achieve victory and greatness not only in battle fields but in the field of sculpture as well. Anatolia was in a period when matchless w orks of sculpture were created. The old traditions of Anatolian sculpture reached a phase of lively fineness and beauty of expression. Beauty aspirations and love were to be stow stone and marble with eternal power.

The structure next to sculpture school with its columns magnificiently climbing towards the azure sky is where the city's heart is beating; that is Aphrodithe Temple. The temple constructed in lonian style has 13 columns in the longer side and 8 columns in the shorter side. Aph rodithe's cult, which is now kept in the museum, had been standing in the holy abode in the middle of the temple whose construction was realized between 41 BC and 130 AC. Inscriptions on some of the columns inform us that the temple was dedicated to Aphrodithe and the people. On the road streching from temples to stadium, an interesting building mentioned as philosophy school or the house of philosophers was discovered deduced from the inscriptions found during the excavations.

We meet Aphrodisias's magnificient stadium in the northern section of Philosophy school. It is guessed that the stadium used to seat 30.000 people with its 262 m. Iength and 59 m. width. In Roman period Anatolian cities had to get the permission from Rome in order to perform a play at the theatre. Aphrodisias was one of those privileged cities which got a consent. Festivals, competitions, track and field events, box and wrestling competitions were all being arranged here.

While going back to Philosophy school from stadium we come across Tetrapylon. With its high-rise pedestals, this monument was a place where gratitude and demonstration crowds used to gather and start to move. Not far from Tetrapylon, you may encounter a tomb made of Aphrodisias's white marble under the shadow of a growing cypress tree.. This modest grave belongs to Prof.Dr. Kenan Erim, a beloved personality who is passionately fond of the city. Whatever your belief, faith or religion is, send hi m a sincere hello from the heart and say good-bye.

Aphrodisias museum is the richest local museum owning the most original and precious statue collection in Turkey. All the masterpieces, came to light by the excavations that have been led for 30 years in this archaic city, are being preserved in th is museum. We encounter a series of sculptures depicting mythological events covering gods, goddesses and emperors. Aphrodithe greets us just at the enterance, in the high-roofed section of the museum. On its right one can see the statue of Antonius Dometinus Diogenes who had been the bishop of the temple in 2nd cc.. The handsome man figure next to it, Demos, represents the people of the city. The statue of the goddess is vertically standing and dressed. She wears a necklace in the form of a ha lf moon. On her garment there are reliefs seperated by strips from each other. The high relief head belongs to Zeus, the 14 greatest god of Olympus, the father of gods and god of gods and to his wife Hera. Below them the busts of sun god Helios and moon godess Selene follow. Holding the flambeaus upside down by eros symbolises death. The reliefs on the Goddess are like a short summary of life.

Existence, gods, time flowing like water, death and infinity. Let's not forget to wish luck to Prof.Dr. Bent Smith from New York university who will lead the new excavations in April after Prof.Dr. Kenan Erim.

Source : Orhan Atvur, Photos: Mehmet Biber, ATLAS Travel Magazine, August 1993.

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