AIZANOI – The ancient Greek city of Aizanoi, located in what is now western Turkey, continues to reveal impressive archaeological finds including a pair of “statue heads carved 5,000 years ago of two Greek deities have been unearthed” the Daily Mail reported, adding that Aizanoi “was home to one of the world’s first stock exchanges.”
The statue heads “described as possessing ‘astonishing beauty’” are fragments of statues of goddess of love Aphrodite, and god of wine Dionysus, the Daily Mail reported, noting that the “bodies of the statues were discovered in previous digs, but the heads were found in creek bed in the ancient city of Aizanoi – it is not yet clear how the heads and bodies were separated.”
“Each head was skillfully carved from limestone: the head of Aphrodite measures 19 inches tall and Dionysus’ is 17 inches,” the Daily Mail reported, adding that “excavation coordinator Gokhan Coskun told Anadolu Agency that the heads of both deities ‘are important findings for us, as they show that the polytheistic culture of ancient Greece existed for a long time without losing its importance in the Roman era.’”
“Archaeologists currently working at the site believe finding the statue heads suggests there may have been a sculpture workshop in the region that produced the stunning works of art,” the Daily Mail reported, adding that “in August, the same group of archaeologists announced they had found a partial statue of the ancient Greek goddess Hygieia that was also found in Aizanoi.”
Hygieia was worshipped alongside Asclepius, the god of healing and medicine, and statues of Hygieia could be found at temples to Asclepius across the ancient world, including at Epidaurus, Corinth, Kos, and Pergamon. According to Science Museum Group, “these sculptures often showed her holding or feeding a large snake, which was the symbol of Greek medicine,” Smithsonian reported, adding that previous digs have also unearthed other Hygieia statues in the region.
According to UNESCO, which added Aizanoi to the World Heritage Tentative List in 2012, the visible remains of the city are mostly derived from the period of the Roman Empire. The city has significant remains such as the Zeus Temple, the Complex of Stadium-Theatre, Macellum, Portico Street, the bridges and dam, two necropolises, odeon, and the Roman Baths.
When compared to other temples to Zeus in the world, the Zeus Temple in Aizanoi is one of the best preserved and is among the rarest religious buildings in Anatolia which have survived to the present day.
The Complex of Stadium-Theatre, constructed adjacently, is unique in the ancient world. The stadium’s capacity was 13,500 people and the theatre capacity, 20,000. The Macellum in Aizanoi dates to the middle of the 2nd century AD and is one of the first exchange stock markets in the world. Inscriptions on the Macellum showing the prices of all goods sold in the markets of the empire have survived and can be read completely at present.