Aphrodisias, Aydin

Aphrodisias is undoubtedly the most spectacular city of Caria. It is in the north of the region and contains some of the finest examples of classical art. Today the remains of this city lie within the district of Aydin, near Karacasu, in the village of Geyre. An asphalt road leads directly to the ruins from the main Aydin-Denizli highway.

Late excavations have revealed much mew material for the world of archaeology. It is difficult to say when they will be completed, but every year millions of Turkish liras are spent on new excavations, and 100-200 workers are employed on the site to reveal ever-new evidence of this magnificent city. However even today in its present state, Aphrodisias is well worth a visit. One cannot hep but admire the various tones of the marble fragments scattered over the site; statues, life-like and animated; amazing works of art in marble as smooth as silk. The spectacle of white marble against tall green poplars provides timeless pleasure.
aydin ancient theater

The earliest settlement in Aphrodisias goes as far back as the Bronze age. Various soundings on the slopes of the acropolis have revealed evidence that the city goes back to a very early period: finds dating from the 3rd millennium B.C. have been unearthed. The city has had many names during its history. For example, in its early stages, it was known as Nimova, because of which it was associated with Mesopotamia. This important Carian city is encircled by walls 3.5 km. in length. The town occupies an area of 250 hectares.

The old part of the modern village of Geyre occupies some parts of the site. It is possible that Geyre is a modern derivation of the no way inferior to any of the Greek schools, and in fact, many of the reliefs and statues found in Rome and Greece bear the signatures of artists from Aphrodisias.

During the Roman period, especially during the reign of Augustus and Tiberius, Aphrodisias reached the apex of its wealth and fame. It had become by then a highly respected city, exempt from taxes and enjoying religious privileges. The city produced many great works of sculpture, literature, and medicine.

To the north of the site is the stadium, which was capable of seating 30.000 spectators. This magnificent construction is 262 meters in length and although exposed to the elements ancient religious name of Caria.

Aphrodisias had its own school of art. During the reign of Attalus III ofPergamon, the king abandoned his kingdom to Rome, Two artists of the time then left Pergamon and migrated inland to settle in Aphrodisias. They dissevered an important marble quarry on the slopes of Babadag, 2 km. from Aphrodisias, and founded a school of sculpture there, producing many works of art. Workshops have been discovered during recent excavations. The sculpted figures found here have each single hair separately worked, the faces, and eyes full of expression and vitality, the bodies supple and almost capable of movement. These are clear indications of the high quality of work produced by the school, which was in has survived to our times. It has two entrances. In later years the eastern part was used as an arena. After resting for a short while in this masterpiece of Aphrodisian architecture, let us go on to the temple of Aphrodisias. Although Aphrodite is actually the goddess of beauty, she was also known as the goddess of fertility, taking on the attributes of the ancient mother goddess of Anatolia, Kybele. The colossal temple to this goddess was erected during theByzantine period. The entrance to this temple is on the facade overlooking the village. The walls are covered with inscriptions. Spiral-fluted columns and the facade must date to the 2nd century. The statue of Aphrodite bearing the attributes of a fertility cult was discovered in 1962. The precinct or temenos was built around the temple durign the reign of the Emperor Hadrian (117-138 A.D.). The floor of the building is covered with wonderful mosaics.

An odeion is situated to the south of the temple of Aphrodite. This was unearthed during 1962. The marble seats and the blue marble stage create an extremely pleasant atmosphere. Magnificent works of art were discovered in the upper part of the orchestra. The corridors running behind the skene opened onto a porticoed area, where the statues of prominent Aphrodisians were displayed. This led to the agora. A part of this can still be seen although overgrown by poplar trees. The agora, measuring 205 by 120 metres, is framed on three sides by porticoes resting on lonic columns. The columns on the south-eastern side are still standing. During 301 B.C., an economic crisis in Rome led to a disaster, the effects of which were felt even in Aphrodisias. As a result, prices in the city were frozen, and lists of price indexes were displayed on the walls of the agora, These historical details have been revealed during excavation and even provide proof of the devaluation of the local coinage. On the right of the odeion stands the bishop’s palace and a school of sculpture. The baths of Hadrian are architectural works not to be omitted from a visit to the site. They consist of five large galleries, with thick walls and marble floors. A section of the building was excavated by the French in 1905-1906. During the excavation season of 1966, three magnificent heads of Aphrodite were found at the entrance. These had either been placed there durign the Christian period in order to bury them from sight or were hidden there by cult devotees to protect them during the some period. Later Aphrodisias became a Christian center and a bishopric. On the south-eastern flank of the acropolis is to be found the theater. It was completely uncovered when village dwellings built over it were moved to another site.