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Headless Statue of Greek Health Goddess Hygieia Unearthed at Aizanoi

September 17, 2021

AIZANOI – The headless statue of Hygieia, the Greek goddess of health was recently unearthed by archaeologists at Aizanoi, a 5,000-year-old site in what is now Turkey, Smithsonian Magazine reported on September 2. The ancient Greek city in Anatolia is also home to a temple dedicated to Zeus and excavations have been ongoing for about a decade.

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.

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