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Aizanoi Ancient site & excavation area, Cavdarhisar, Kütahya, Ture

articles on history and archaeology

Aizanoi archeology site & excavation arean area is in the province of Kütahya, Çavdarhisar district, Turkey. Aizanoi is an ancient site with the ruins like Temple of Zeus, Stadium-Theater Complex and Macellum.

The willage which was settled around the hill where the ancient city is located  has a charming and visual appeal either. The area can be visited, even just to taste the atmosphere of a traditional Turkish willage life.

Aizonai was disovered first by an English count saint asaph in 1824.  Following to him some important European archelogists visited the site. wey first excavations were started in 1926 & 1928. A big earthquage in the Gediz district has caused the demoliton of many buildings in the willage which let some more ancient structures come out of ground. 

 The Zeus Temple that is on the top of the ancient site hill is one of the best protected Zeus temples in the world. İt is decorated by marble columns and again marble pediments which are unusual for such type of an architecture and which makes it the only temple example in Pseudodipteros style.  The Gymnasium & the theater that are on the north site of the area were built as a unified buildings complex.  The ''macellum'' (Stock market building) which is dated to 2.nd century A.C. is the first stock market building in the world. On the walls of macellum some inscriptions can be seen which are about the struggle of emperor Diocletian against inflation of currency.  

There are guite few information about Pre-Roman period of aizonai. The know past start about 3000 B.C. during these period Aizonai is supposed to be the capital city of Aizanitis people who were living under the authocracy of a bigger civilisation called ''Frigians''.  Aizonai was in the same era of the ancient cities like Ephoses, Pergammon & Side.  During the Helenistic period Aizonai was under the authocracy of Pergammon & Bithynia. Romans took over after 133 B.C.

During the Roman period, Aizonai is reported to be a rich city by making agricalture, wine and wool. the very first coins are seen in the end of the first century A.C. 

marble monuments.jpg

It is estimated that approximately 80,000 people lived in the ancient city during the Roman period. The ruins of the Temple of Zeus, 15,000-person capacity theater and theater, 13,500-seat stadium, two baths, the world's first trading stock exchange building, columnar street, two Roman bridges over kocaçay,  agora, gymnasium, Meter Steunene sanctuary, necropolises, there is an ancient bent, waterways, gate structures.

The area around the temple was transformed into a fortress to contain the temple. It was called as ''Fortress of Çavdar'' (also the name of the modern town) because it was used as a base by Çavdar Tatars during the Seljuk period. Another evidence proving the existence of the Rye Tatars is the depictions of cavalry, archer cavalry,   who were later etched into the temple wall. Osta Asia This military method, which holds an important place in the Turkish military tradition, is depicted in many reliefs.

Willage_houses_on_Çavdarhisar.jpg

Temple of Zeus

It is built on a podium in the middle of an area surrounded by galleries with columns around the west coast of the river. It was constructed as a dipteras plan with 120 Ion and 4 Corinthian style columns. There is a staircase leading down to the underground bunker like room, dedicated to the Phrygian goddess Meter Steunene. The western pediment is adorned with the bust of the goddess Kybele. In the eastern pediment there is a bust of Zeus. With the Dor columned courtyard and the agora, M.S. Between the years of 117-138 in the walls of the gallery of the temple; There are inscriptions praising Apuleius who had important services for the emperor Hadrian and Aızanoı. Recent excavations have shown that layers of remains from the early years of the area were displaced to build the Temple of Zeus. Ceramic pieces dated to the Early Bronze Age were found at the level of the temple courtyard. The construction of the temple began in the second quarter of the second century. The fund needed for its construction was met by renting out fields. However, the people who rented these fields haven't paid for many years. The construction could start  only when the rents were paid under the instruction of the Emperor Hadrian. The correspondence between the city and the emperor on this subject was so important for Aizanoi that it rests in the northern side of the pronaos  of the temple. On the outside of the same wall, there are long inscriptions. This inscription talks about M. Apuleius Eurycles, who is known from the inscription on the bridge. 
On the cut stones of the temple, there are war scenes, horsemen and horses. These drawings depict scenes from the lives of Çavdars, who were looking for shelter in the city walls surrounding the temple in the 13th century.  The temple is built on a podium with the dimensions 53 metres by 35 metres and the base is covered with vaults, the combination of which makes for an unusual model in the Roman architecture in Anatolia. It is believed that the underground chamber under this whole area covered with cella, opisthodomos and pronaos was the staging ground for ceremonies in the cult of the Anatolian goddess Cybele, who was worshipped under the name Metre Steunene in Aizanoai. On the north-west pediment of the temple, on the middle acroter, there is a portrait-sculpture of a woman. This demonstrates that the temple was also devoted to the Phrygian goddess Cybele. However, recent research shows that the temple cannot have been devoted to both Zeus and Cybele. This underground place is thought to be a prophecy centre or the storage room of the temple. The acroter in the shape of a woman’s head has now been placed near other discovered pieces. 


The Temple of Zeus was the first of the magnificent structures built in Aizanoi’s new city centre on the west bank of the Penkalas river. Most of these magnificent structures came to be under village houses and schoolsthe structures of the modern willage that are on the south-eastern side of the temple’s flat area. You can see the remains of a flight of stairs on the southwest wall of the heroon that stands on the marble-covered podium. This structure is believed to be the tomb of a leading figure of the city. 

Between the stadium and the temple, there used to be a Turkish-style bath with rich decorations and a courtyard with columns in the front that was built in the second half of the second century A.D. The south-eastern half of this symmetrical structure was excavated in 1978-81. The rich marble covering of the Turkish bath, water and water heating channels can still be seen today. The main bathing rooms like the frigidarium and calidarium are in the middle of this building. There are many side rooms opening to this room. In the largest room, there is a marble sculpture of the goddess Hygenia (the word Hygen in English comes from this Goddess who is the daughter of Ancient Greek God of health)in an apse. In front of the northeast part of the Turkish-style bath, there used to be a large square courtyard (palaestra) for sports activities. The large stone blocks found in the fields north of the palaestra show that there could have been a splendid tomb here, round inside but polygonal on the outside. 

Theater

It was built on two floors in the same direction as the stadium in the northeast of the Temple of Zeus and it is estimated to be built to host 15,000 people. From the inscriptions on the walls of  Zeus Tample & Roman bridge,  Apileius is known to  play an important role  in the construction of this Theater and Stadium complex. The combination of the stadium-theatre in Aizanoi is unique. Excavation and research carried out from 1982 to1990 showed that the construction of the building started in 160 A.D. and continued until the middle of the third century A.D. During repairs to the eastern side of the entrance to the stadium, a number of inscriptions were found and placed in their original places. 

Since the sitting rows of the stadium are polygonal, the structure gets wider in the centre. At its widest point, there is a door on the western side. A marble-covered wall is the only façade of the stadium that looks onto theatre. This is at the same time the back side of theatre stage.   There are two floors and on top, there is the high Attika floor with an arch. The stage of theatre was covered with rich decorations made out of marble which were fell on top of the sitting rows by the effect of several earthquakes throughout the centruries. Researchs show that the marble decorations on the stage arrived to the conclusion that the building was originally built as only one story and the second floor was added in later years in order to expand the stadium. 

In the second half of the third century, in the north-eastern side of the city, a second Turkish-style bath was built inside a building formed by large limestone. In one part of this bath, there is a mosaic floor bearing the pictures of a satyr and maenad. In the fourth and the fifth century A.D, the main area of the Turkish-style bath was rearranged and it was used as the episcopacy centre. 

Theater in aizanoi
stadium

Stadium

The construction of the building adjacent to the theater was built by M.S. It has started gradually until M.S.250 's. There is a wide gate on the west side of the  stadium and the, Honor Corner ın where the medals won by the athletes at the entrance. Both sides of the marble covered wall separating the stadium and the theater are decorated with depictions of the hunting scene. On the east bank of the river; A rounded structure with 16 columns and monumental tombs and necropolis area belonging to city administrators are located. 

Theater

Stock Exchange Building

Built in the  2nd century A.C. The round structure (macellum) used as a grain market; price lists of all goods sold in the imperial markets, M.S. In 301, there are inscriptions showing Emperor Diocletian's wage determination to combat inflation. This structure is defined as the world's first trade exchange. 

There has been found a long inscription that mentions the goddess Artemis along with Asclepius on a piece belonging to the temple. The inscription says that the temple was built during the reign of the Emperor Claudius (41-54 A.D.) Two plates that were found on the ground of the northeast gallery were originally from the triangular pediment of the temple. One of these plates has a picture of a deer which is the symbol of Artemis. The front façade of the temple which has eight columns can be reconstructed using the parts of the Temple of Artemis that were employed in the building of the avenue with columns. This avenue, for whose construction a temple was demolished, existed until the sixth century when most likely it was destroyed by an earthquake. 

Ancient Bridges

There are two Roman birges over Kocaçay which was Formerly known as 'Penkalas'. In ancient times, there were five bridges connecting two sides. One was a wooden bridge for pedestrians and the other four were arched stone bridges. Only two of them have survived to the present day.

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