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Zeus Temple Entrance Gate Unearthed in Ancient Greek City of Magnesia

AYDIN, Turkey – German archaeologist Karl Humann in the 1890s excavated the remains of a 2,300-year-old Temple of Zeus in the ancient Greek city of Magnesia, located in what is now the Aydın province of Turkey, the Smithsonian Magazine reported on September 29, noting that the site “was then reburied and all but forgotten until Görkem Kökdemir, an archaeologist at Ankara University, began excavations there some 20 years ago.”

“To date, Kökdemir and his team have uncovered a sanctuary, a stadium, a theater, 80 statues and other artifacts,” Smithsonian reported, adding that “now, reports Ferdi Uzun for the state-run Anadolu Agency (AA), the researchers have discovered the entrance gate to Zeus’ sacred temple.”

Kökdemir told Hürriyet Daily News: “We think that the temple we found in this area is a well-known temple in the history of architecture just like the Temple of Artemis, which is the fourth largest temple in Anatolia and also located in Magnesia.”

“Archaeologists tentatively dated the gate and its accompanying temple to the third century BCE, reports state-run broadcaster TRT World,” Smithsonian noted, pointing out that “Magnesia itself was established in the fourth century BCE,”and “the area where the gate was found is one of Magnesia’s most sacred.”

“There is the Artemis sacred space there, there is also a sacred agora,” Kökdemir told TRT World, Smithsonian reported, adding that “the Zeus Temple is in the sacred agora. It is very significant. It is the second important cult [of Magnesia]. In ancient cities people [worshipped] not just one deity, they [worshipped] multiple gods or goddesses. In Magnesia the first deity is Artemis, and the second deity is Zeus.”

Kökdemir “expects his team to uncover 60 to 70 percent of the original temple structure,” Smithsonian reported, noting that “during the 19th-century dig, Humann unearthed a small portion of the Temple of Zeus.”

“Those pieces, now housed at the Pergamon Museum in Berlin, were used to fashion an exhibition that included ’90 percent imitation parts,’ Kökdemir told TRT World, Smithsonian reported, adding that “the makeshift structure remains on view today.”

“Excavations at Magnesia are expected to continue for some time,” Smithsonian reported, noting that “Kökdemir hopes to have the temple fully restored in a few years, but he acknowledges that it will likely take 15 to 20 years to uncover a nearby stadium thought to have a seating capacity of about 50,000 people.”

“When we unearth this temple completely, the eyes of the world’s archaeology community will be here,” he told AA, Smithsonian reported.

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