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Statue heads of ancient Greek deities dating back 5,000 years found in Turkey

Statue heads of ancient Greek deities Aphrodite and Dionysus dating back 5,000 years are unearthed in early Turkish city that was home to one of the world’s first stock exchanges

  • The statue heads were found at the bottom of a creek bed, but archaeologists note they found the bodies during a previous dig – it is not known how the heads and bodies were separated 
  • The heads depict ancient Greek goddess Aphrodite, the goddess of love, and Dionysus, the god of wine
  • They were carved from limestone 5,000 years ago in the ancient city of Aizanoi that was home to to one of the world’s first stock exchange markets
  • The statues, according to archaeologists, show Greeks held on to their beliefs even under Roman rule 

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Statue heads carved 5,000 years ago of two Greek deities have been unearthed in an ancient city of western Turkey that was home to one of the world’s first stock exchanges.

Both described as possessing ‘astonishing beauty’, the fragments are of Aphrodite, the goddess of love, and Dionysus, the god of wine.  

Bodies of the statues were discovered in previous digs, but the heads were found in creek bed in the ancient city of Aizanoi – it is not yet clear how the heads and bodies were separated. 

Each head was skillfully carved from limestone: the head of Aphrodite measures 19 inches tall and Dionysus’ is 17 inches.

Statue heads carved 5,000 years ago of two Greek deities have been unearthed in an ancient city of western Turkey that was home one of the world’s first stock exchange markets. Pictured is Dionysus

Excavation coordinator Gokhan Coskun told Anadolu Agency that the heads of both deities ‘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.’

The ancient city of Aizanoi is one of the most significant cities of the Roman Period, containing the Zeus Temple, the Complex of Stadium-Theatre and the Macellum. 

The ancient city is the main settlement of the Aizanitisians who lived under the rule of ancient Phrygians and the Zeus Temple found at the site dates the city to 3000BC.

The ancient city was discovered by the European voguers in 1824, but excavation did not start until 1926. 

Described as possessing 'astonishing beauty', the fragments are of Aphrodite, the goddess of love, and Dionysus (pictured), the god of wine

Described as possessing ‘astonishing beauty’, the fragments are of Aphrodite, the goddess of love, and Dionysus (pictured), the god of wine

Pictured is the location of ancient city of Aizanoi, which is located in Turkey

Pictured is the location of ancient city of Aizanoi, which is located in Turkey

The ancient city is the main settlement of the Aizanitisians who lived under the rule of ancient Phrygians and the Zeus Temple (pictured) found at the site dates the city to 3000BC

The ancient city is the main settlement of the Aizanitisians who lived under the rule of ancient Phrygians and the Zeus Temple (pictured) found at the site dates the city to 3000BC

Archaeologists currently working at the site believe finding the statue heads suggests there may have been a sculpture workshop in the region that produced the stunning works of art.

In August, the same group of archaeologists announced they had found a partial statue of the ancient Greek goddess Hygieia that was also found in the Aizanoi. 

Hygieia  is the personification of health, cleanliness and sanitation and is often depicted with a serpent wrapped around her arm or torso and a cup or chalice in her hand. 

Coskun told the Greek Reporter: ‘Unfortunately, (the head) hasn’t survived to the present day, but in its current form, we can see that this statue is about the size of a human.’ 

Bodies of the statues were discovered in previous digs, but the heads were found in creek bed in the ancient city of Aizanoi – it is not yet clear how the heads and bodies were separated. Pictured is the head of the statue of Aphrodite

Bodies of the statues were discovered in previous digs, but the heads were found in creek bed in the ancient city of Aizanoi – it is not yet clear how the heads and bodies were separated. Pictured is the head of the statue of Aphrodite 

Each head was skillfully carved from limestone, with that of Aphrodite (pictured) measuring 19 inches tall and Dionysus' is 17 inches

Each head was skillfully carved from limestone, with that of Aphrodite (pictured) measuring 19 inches tall and Dionysus’ is 17 inches

‘During past digs in Aizanoi, finds related to Hygieia were also found. 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.’ 

‘We’re trying to reveal the columned galleries on the west and south wings of the agora (bazaar) and the shops right behind them,’ he explained.

The statue of Hygieia, from whom we received our word ‘hygiene,’ was discovered inside the columned gallery along the south wing of the agora, or marketplace.

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