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 About Aizanoi
 

 

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AIZANOI                                                                                             

A mythical hero called Azan, one of three sons of the legendary king Arkas and the nymph Erato, is in ancient tradition supposed to be the forefather of the Phrygians settled along the river Penkalas in the neighborhood of the Cave of the goddess Meter Steunene. From this Azan the name of the city Aizanoi is derived. Aizanoi was the capital of Aizanitis, which belonged to Phrygia.New excavation of the elevated rise where the principal ancient sanctuary of the city, the temple of Zeus (A), is located has unearthed evidence of a third millenium B.C. occupation level. In earlier Anatolian times, situated in the same location as the later temple building was one of many settlement mounds which recently have been determined to have occupied the Aizanitis. During the Hellenistic period this entire region alternated between the hegemonies of Pergamon and Bithynia; it came under Roman control in 133 B.C. The first coins date from the second and first centuries B.C. It is only from the last quarter of the first century B.C. that we have concrete evidence for the city of Aizanoi which, through its production of cereals, wine, and sheep's wool, was to rise to prosperity during the period of the Roman Empire. In early Byzantine times the city was the seat of a bishopric; from the seventh century onwards, however, its influence dwindled markedly.

 

In medieval times the rise upon which the temple stands was transformed into a fortified citadel which subsequently served a group of the Cavdar Tatars as a fort during the Seljuk dynasties, thus giving the community its present name, Çavdarhisar (Çavdar Citadel). Aizanoi was discovered by European travellers in 1824. The earliest research work was undertaken in the '3os and '4os of the nineteenth century. The excavations of the German Archaeological Institute were begun in 1926 under the direction of M. Schede and D. Krencker; resumed in 1970 under R. Naumann, these are still in progress.

                                
           

                                                                                    
ROMAN BATH

Probably in the second half of the third century A.D,, a second bath was built into a sturdy edifice of large limestone blocks that was already standing in the northeastern part of the city. One of the halls of this bath contains a well-preserved mosaic floor displaying a satyr and a maenad in the center. Some time after the fourth or the fifth century A.D., the main hall of the bath complex was once more rebuilt in order to serve as the seat for the newly appointed bishop and head of the early Christian municipality of Aizanoi.

                     


ROMAN BATHS AND REMAINS OF A ROUND BUILDING

Between the stadium and the temple precinct stood large, lavishly equipped baths with a colonnaded forecourt  dating from the second half of the second century A.D. The southeast part of the symmetrical building has been excavated between 1978 and 1981. Numerous remains of the rich marble fittings of the bath's halls and of the water and heating channels are still to be seen. The actual bath-rooms are located along the central axis of the building. Close by there are several side-rooms, including one big hall with an apse in which a marble statue of the goddess Hygicia was set up. Northeast of the bath building was a big colonnaded forecourt (Palaestra) which was used for physical exercise.North of the Palaestra, lying in the fields, are some big slabs belonging to a structure with a round interior but an angular exterior. They perhaps belong to a bigger tomb building.

 

STADIUM AND THEATER

The theater/stadium complex of Aizanoi is unique in its combination of the two facilities. Excavation carried out in the stadium between 1982 and 1990 revealed that the project, begun in the decades after 160 A.D., was constructed in several phases, finally reaching completion in the middle of the third century A.D. Recently discovered inscriptions, which are to be seen at the reconstructed eastern entrance wall of the stadium, testify that M. Apuleius Eurykles, whom we know from the dedication of bridge 4, was also instrumental in the erection of the theater/stadium complex.The rows of seats do not follow a straight line, but bend a few times so that the whole building widens in the middle. At the broadest point a gate-building was located on the west side, but, as shown by the partly reconstructed podium with two blocks of the marble seat-steps on it, this was taken out of use in a later phase and covered with rows of seats. Facing the theater the stadium was closed by a marble facade covering the back side of the theater's stage building. Parts of it are arranged on the ground in the north half of the stadium. The facade was composed of a low Doric base followed by a storey with windows and a tall attic storey with wide arched openings.

 

The stage ot the theater was lavishly equipped with marble, pieces of which are still lying in the semicircle of the seats where they have been thrown down by the numerous earthquakes over the centuries. Recent examinations of the building ornamentation have indicated that the elaborate marble architecture, which still can be seen covering the central theater building, initially suggested the presence of a second floor. Only later when the stadium was being constructed was yet another floor added. A few fragments of the marble architecture are still in their original position attached to the limestone ashlar building. Most pieces of the marble stage of the theatre are lying in the semicircle of the seats where they have been thrown down by the numerous earthquakes. Especially notable are the sections of a beautiful frieze showing hunting scenes which can be found among the scattered building blocks.

                     


ROUND BUILDING (MACELLUM) AND LATE ROMAN COLONNADED STREET

Further to the south a round building was erected in the second half of the second century A.D., probably serving as a food market (macellum). The walls of this building, excavated and restored in 1971, were inscribed at the beginning of the fourth century with a copy of the edict on price controls issued by Emperor Diocletian in 301 A.D. to battle inflation. In this edict the consumer prices of all articles of trade offered at the markets of the empire were regulated. A strong male slave, for instance, would cost 30.000 dinar, as much as two donkeys.Between 1993 and 1995, the area behind the modern village house which marks the northeast border of the square surrounding the round building was excavated. Well-preserved fragments from the stoas bordering a colonnaded street were found which can be dated to ca. 400 A.D. on account of the associated finds. So many pieces of the columns and entablature were found that part of a stoa could be reconstructed with the aid of a few modern marble additions.

The architectural fragments that were not used in the reconstruction are located on the back wall of the interior hallways. Here one also finds the entrances to the stores where craftsmen and salesmen would make their wares and offer them for sale. Originally, for the construction of these covered halls, which provided clients protection against the sun and rain in a manner similar to the arcades of today, architectural fragments were taken from a variety of older buildings. Of course not only were architectural pieces reworked and set-up anew, but statues from abandoned buildings were re-used as well. For instance, found situated before a column in the northeast hall was a marble statue of a naked satyr with a flute and panther skin set upon a base inscribed with the patrician name Markia Tateis (The statue is currently on display in the Archaeological Museum of Kütahya). The unusual combination of the inscription and the satyr statue demonstrates that by late antiquity this work retained none of its original thematic meaning and had become a handed-down image used as part of the furnishings for a colonnaded street.

The most important building which had to be completely demolished for the construction of the colonnaded street was the temple to Artemis. To this temple once belonged the beautiful Ionic capitals set upon the columns of the northeast stoa. The rich ornamentation of the upright acanthus leaves on the padded sides of the volutes is especially remarkable. The architrave carried above the capitals also once belonged to this temple. It carries a long inscription referring to the goddess Artemis and also to Asklepiades, the man who donated the temple.

Furthermore, it allows us to date the temple to the time of Emperor Claudius    (41 - 54 B.C.). Of the temple's pediment sculpture, two marble plates of the tympanon are preserved. In Late Antiquity they have been reused as parts of the floor of the northeast hall. One of these plates depicts in low relief of a deer, the attribute of Artemis. Since parts of the temple of Artemis were built into the late antique colonnaded street, it has been possible to reconstruct a wide section of the temple with eight columns placed across the front. 1 he late antique colonnaded avenue, whose construction necessitated the demolition of the temple, stood until the sixth century A.D. when it was destroyed by an earthquake.

A broad colonnaded avenue 450 m. long formed the central element of the road system of Aizanoi; it was located in the 1991 excavations. Today, however, only the monumental arch discovered in 1979 and representing the southwest end of (his avenue is to be seen within the gardens of the modern village. The colonnaded street is part of a processional way leading to the sanctuary of Meter Steunene (Q,R,S) outside of the city.

                     

                                                     

                    


TEMPLE OF ZEUS

The most recent excavation results reveal that in the area of the temple of Zeus, the main sanctuary of the city, the upper layers of a settlement mound dating back to Anatolian prehistoric times have eroded away. Directly below the level of the temple courtyard, settlement debris was found which on the basis of the extensive ceramic remains can be dated to the Early Bronze Period II (2,800-2,500 B.C.). Perhaps the upper layers containing the remains of later settlements were used as fill along the edges of the temple plateau and at other sites in the city. The construction of the temple began in the second quarter of the second century A.D. A large part of the funding for this immense undertaking possibly was acquired by leasing some of the extensive property holdings belonging to the temple. For many years prior, the tenants had refused to pay rent and it was only through arbitration by Emperor Hadrian that the revenue was seized and the construction of the temple made possible.

Several letters between Emperor Hadrian and Aizanoi were exchanged regarding this matter and were so important to the city that they were displayed in a separate inscription zone on the north side of the entryway of the temple (pronaos). Additionally, located on the exterior of this wall are long inscriptions referring exclusively to M. Apuleius Eurykles who we are already familiar with from the dedication inscription on bridge 4. They praise the virtues of Eurykles and his service to the city. Covering the ancient inscriptions and the ashlar masonry of the temple are simple representations of riders, combat scenes and horses. These engraved images depict episodes from the life of the Çavdar Tatars in the 13th century, which lived within the citadel walls surrounding the temple-plateau.

The colonnade of the temple had eight Ionic columns across the ends and fifteen along the sides. The distance between the columns and the walls of the inner rooms (pronaos, cella and opisthodomos) is twice as much as the distance between the columns; that means the building is a Pseudodipteros. Most unusual, indeed without exact parallel in the Roman architecture of Asia Minor, is the combination of a temple erected on an elevated platform (here 53 by 35 m.) with a vast vaulted cellar. Access was through a staircase in the opisthodomos, which one would have entered from the peristasis, or colonnade, passing between the two ornate columns of the opisthodomos with their Composite capitals.

Based on earlier research it was suspected that this room, which underlies the full length of the Cella, opisthodomos and pronaos, was the cult room for the Anatolian goddess Cybele who was worshipped in Aizanoi as Meter Steunene.

A large roof decoration (akroterion) from the northwest gable, on view in front of the temple near its place of discovery, depicts the bust of a female figure and was interpreted as a sign that the temple was dedicated not only to Zeus, but to Cybcle as well. However, recent investigations have indicated that this earlier idea of a double sanctuary for Cybcle and Zeus is improbable. The impressive cellar could have served as an oracle or as a store room for the harvest from temple properties.

        

                     

 





Serhan AKYILDIZ
Çavdarhisar Kaymakamı

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