AIZANOI ANCIENT CITY

ANCIENT CITIES 

Aizanoi ancient city 

This city is in the Çavdarhisar township, 57 kilometres from Kütahya’s city centre. The city experienced its golden age in the second and third centuries AD and became the centre of episcopacy in the Byzantine era. The city has a temple built for Zeus which is the best-preserved temple in all of Anatolia. There is also a large theatre and a stadium adjacent to theatre. There are two Turkish-style baths, one of them decorated with mosaics, plus a gymnasium, five bridges on Kocaçay which are still used today, an old dam, a trading building, and avenues with columns on both sides, necropolis areas and the sacred cave of Metre Steune. The German Institute is still carrying out excavations in the city. 

Aizanoi 

Historical research and monuments (Klaus Rheidt) 

At the upper part of the Penkalas (Kocaçay) River, there were the Phrygians who lived around the sacred cave of the goddess Metre Steunene, who was the born through the union of the water nymph Erato and the mythological hero Azan. The city Aizanoi might have taken its name from Azan. Aizanoi was the main settlement of the Aizanitisians, who lived under the rule of the ancient Phrygians. 

Recent excavations done around the Temple of Zeus built on the high plateau of the city revealed several levels of settlements dating from as far back as 3000 B.C. In the Hellenistic era, this region was ruled by, alternately, Bergama and Bithynia, and in 133 B.C. it entered the dominion of the Roman Empire. Aizanoi printed its first coins in the second and first centuries. During the days of the Roman Empire, the town became rich from its production of grains, wine and wool. By the end of the first century, the town had started to turn into a city. It was the centre of the episcopacy in the early Byzantine period but it lost its influence in the seventh century. During the time of the Seljuk Principality, Çavdar Tatars used this area as a military base in the 13th century. This is why this area was called Çavdarhisar (“hisar” means city walls). 

Aizanoi was rediscovered by European travellers in 1824 and studied in the 1830s and ‘40s. In 1926, M. Schede and D. Krecker started excavations under the auspices of the German Archaeology Institute. In 1970, R. Naumann began these studies anew, and they have continued to the present day. 
The city and its bridges 

Most of the structural remains that have come down to our day from Aizanoi that are located on both sides of the Kocaçay River (Penkalas) were built during the Roman era. On both banks of the river, there were protective walls made out of large cut stones to protect the city against the rising waters of the Kocaçay, waters which still rise today. Two out of the four bridges on the river are still in use today. The low wooden bridge on the north was used as a pedestrian crossing. 

The stone bridge with five arches that follows this wooden one is still in good shape. There is another one with three arches which has fallen into ruins. This one is followed by the city’s main bridge, which today supports all of the traffic with its five arches. 

The inscriptions on the pedestal of the bridge’s railing tell us that the opening ceremony of the bridge took place in September 157 A.D. The inscription and two relief-decorated railings are today displayed in front of the fourth bridge. The relief shows the sea voyage of M. Apuleius Eurycles, who financed the bridge’s construction. Eurycles represented Aizanoi in Athens from 153 to 157 A.D. in the Hellenic Union called Panhellion which was established by the Roman Emperor Hadrian. Eurycles returned to Aizanoi in the fall of 157 A.D. In 1990, the bridge was fortified with new railings. 

The Temple of Zeus 
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 rubble from the removed layers was used to the fill temple area. The construction of the temple began in the second quarter of the second century. The money needed for the temple’s construction was met by renting out large temple fields. However, the people who rented these fields resisted paying any money for many years. The construction started 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 (front gallery) of the temple. On the outside of the same wall, there are long inscriptions. This inscription talks about M. Apuleius Eurycles, whom we know from the bridge inscription. The inscription praises Eurycles’ virtues and his contributions to the city. 
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. In the peristasis, there are eight Ionic columns on the short and 15 on the long sides. The distance between the interior structures of the temple (pronaos, cella and opisthodomos) is twice as large as the distance between the columns. Therefore this is a temple based on a pseudodipteros plan. 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; no similar example has been found. 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. 

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