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Statue of Hercules Unearthed in Ancient Greek City of Aizanoi

Statue of Heracles or Hercules unearthed in ancient Greek Aizanoi, today's Turkey
A statue of Hercules was recently unearthed at the Ancient Greek city of Aizanoi in Asia Minor. Credit: Screenshot from video

A stunning statue of Hercules, the Greek demigod, was recently unearthed in the Ancient Greek city of Aizanoi in Asia Minor, according to archaeologists statements.

The statue was found during the excavations being carried out along Penkalas Stream in the Ancient Greek city of Aizanoi in what is now the Çavdarhisar District of the western province of Kütahya in Turkey.

Aizanoi, which is on the tentative list of UNESCO’s World Heritage Sites, gave up a headless marble statue of the semi-god known as “Heracles” (English: Hercules) in Greek mythology on Friday.

Professor Gökhan Coşkun, the chief of excavations at Aizanoi, stated to interviewers from Hurriyet that the statue is compatible with the “resting Hercules” statue typology. He stated “Although the head part was not preserved, we can easily understand that it is [Hercules], based on the lion’s skin on it.”

Hercules was frequently depicted as wearing a lion’s pelt after he slayed the Nemean Lion, one of his Great Labors.

The headless statue of Hercules was discovered after the heads of the statues of Aphrodite, the goddess of love and beauty, and Dionysus, the god of wine, had been unearthed just two months ago, in October. 

The heads of both Aphrodite, the goddess of love, and Dionysus, the god of wine, “are important findings for us, as they show that the polytheistic culture of ancient Greece existed for a long time without losing its importance in the Roman era,” excavation coordinator Gokhan Coskun told Anadolu Agency.

“The findings suggest that there may have been a sculpture workshop in the region,” Coşkun stated.

Noting that the statues’ bodies were found in a previous dig, Coşkun, an archaeologist at Dumlupinar University, said the heads were unearthed during recent excavations in a creek bed in the ancient city of Aizanoi.

In August, a statue of the ancient Greek goddess Hygieia, the goddess of health and cleanliness, was also unearthed in Aizanoi. As is often seen in statues unearthed in Turkey, the head of the statue is missing.

Coşkun added “During past digs in Aizanoi, finds related to Hygieia were also [made]. This situation makes us think that there may have been some construction and buildings related to the health cult in Aizanoi during the Roman era.”

Greek gods in the ancient city of Aizanoi

Aizanoi was an important political and economic center in Roman times. Surviving remains from the period include a well-preserved Temple of Zeus, an unusual combined theater-stadium complex, and macellum inscribed with the Price Edict of Diocletian. The city fell into decline in Late Antiquity.

Settlement in the area is known from the Bronze Age. During the Hellenistic period, the city changed hands between the Kingdom of Pergamum and the Kingdom of Bithynia, before being bequeathed to Rome by the former in 133 BC. It continued to mint its own coins. Its monumental buildings date from the early Empire to the 3rd century.

The ancient Greek city of Aizanoi was first settled approximately 3,000 years B.C. Its array of archaeological treasures include a the theater, stadium, a temple dedicated to Zeus and an Agora, or marketplace.

Coşkun, who is also the head of Dumlupınar University’s Archeology Department, told reporters that most of the pier walls along Penkalas River have now been unearthed and that they continue to discover pieces of sculptures in the riverbed.

Coşkun explained “Heracles is the son of the god Zeus and a mortal in ancient Greek culture. He was known as semi-god and after a while he became a god. Temples were built for him. His name was ‘Hercules’ in Roman times.”

“The ‘resting Hercules’ is a type used in many places in the ancient world,” Coşkun said.
“Today, there are statues of Heracles of this type in various parts of the world, but we found this type of Heracles statue for the first time in Aizanoi.”


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