Photos by Jack A. Waldron
Ancient Aezani, like Nemrut Dag and the Parthenon (amongst various other ancient wonders), is one of those iconic ancient cities that one dreams about exploring, and that is mainly due to perforation of the psyche with photos such as the one shown above, the infamous sculpture of Medusa in front of the Temple of Zeus.
I cycled the main highway through the mountains that lay south of Kutahya, which take you on a climb to approximately 1000 meters above sea level and a plateau known as the Aizanitis, from which the ancient city takes its name. In the photo above, ancient Aezani is situated near the rise in the far distance, this side of the mountains.
As you can deduct from these photos, this truly was a beautiful day for cycling, not too hot, sunny, and a good road; however, the native bird population was not faring as well. Though I found several species along this route, it became cumbersome and time consuming to stop for so many, including a flattened owl and a common house sparrow.
As I approached the outskirts of Cavdarhisar from the north (the area where the ancient city is located), it became apparent that I was in the midsts of the site, as the side of the road was littered with antiquities for several hundred meters (pictured below).
Due to the fact that there were so many priceless antiquities strewn along the road side, I knew this site was going to be massive and grand, as such antiquities as these would normally be housed in a museum or depot.
I decided to take the time to photograph these road side treasures, and while I was doing so, an old man carrying an umbrella greeted me as he walked up the road. Though it had become overcast, there was really no sign that it would rain. I asked him with my very poor Turkish, 'Yamur git mi?', and he replies, 'Yes'. I finished taking my photos and got back on my bike, when it began to sprinkle intermittently.
When there is rain on the horizon, finding a good campsite becomes a priority, but since it was only sprinkling when a a cloud passed over, well, I had little to worry about. As I continued toward the site, I passed the massive archeological depot (which I write about in Aezani: Pt.3), and then arrived at the Temple of Zeus (which I write about in Aezani Pt.2), but as it was now around five o'clock, and it was sprinkling on and off, I focused on finding a suitable campsite.
The road, which was now lined with old beautifully crafted homes, took me through the oldest section of Cavdarhisar, to where it suddenly came to a halt at the river.
The route into the town center was impassable, because the ancient Roman bridge that traverses the river along this road was being restored. I would discover later that this bridge is known as the Upper Penkalas Bridge (pictured below), as that is the ancient name of the river, which today is called the Kocacay River. The Upper Penkalas Bridge may be considered the main bridge of the ancient city due to its proximity to the Temple of Zeus, which is located just up the road.
I could see a second Roman bridge further down river (pictured below), that apparently has the same name, so for now, lets refer to them as the Upper Penkalas Bridge (pictured above), and the Lower Penkalas Bridge (pictured below).
As I said, the Upper Penkalas Bridge, which is still today situated on the main road to Cavdarhisar, was impassible, except by foot, as you can see the in the photo below, a boardwalk is traversing the river at the foot of the bridge, thus, all heavy traffic must backtrack to a detour further down river.
From what have been able to gather, a German archeological team is in charge of the restoration of both bridges, and as you can see in the photos, new stone members have been sculpted and laid into position amongst the old stone.
There were at one time four ancient bridges spanning the Penkalas River, of which two remain. The Upper Penkalas Bridge dates from the 2C AD, is built of stone, and has five arches that support the structure. The Lower Penkalas Bridge is nearly identical in design to the Upper Penkalas Bridge.
It has been documented that these bridges were in use for cart traffic well into the 19C AD, and have been used for foot traffic up until recent times. It's not clear if modern traffic will be allowed to use the these two bridges once their restorations are complete, and I suspect it won't, though there are many ancient Roman Bridges that are used today for heavy modern traffic, such as the 2C AD Eurymedon Bridge leading to ancient Selge, or the 4C AD Roman Bridge in the center of Adana. Today, an old rickety iron bridge much further down river serves the heavy weight traffic, and my bicycle.
I could see that the clouds were beginning to consolidate and darken, so I snapped some very quick pics of the antiquities scattered around the area of the bridge (pictured below), before heading back up the road toward the Temple of Zeus.
I am not exactly sure what the purpose of the building was that these members were a part of (pictured above and below), however, I suspect that the member pictured above is a section of ceiling, and interestingly, has what appear to be mirrors sculpted into it for decoration. The member pictured below, with the sculpted reliefs of bulls heads and garlands, is most likely a frieze, and both may very well be from the same structure.
Most guide books will tell you that 2-3 hours will be necessary to see the ancient city, while I can honestly state that 2-3 days would be more appropriate. Fortunately for the less rugged traveler, there is what appears to be a fantastic hotel located in the old village that looks like it occupies an old beautifully restored building.
As for me, well, the on-and-off-again sprinkle was now steady, the wind had picked-up greatly, and as you can see in the photo below of the supporting arches for the sanctuary wall surrounding the of the Temple of Zeus, the blue sky was fading grey.
I followed a dirt road running along the fence that protects the temple site, that had a cold fresh water spring filled ditch flowing from the farmers fields in the distance away from the village. There I quickly staked out a claim amongst a patch of trees as the sprinkle had now turned into a torrent! I have never set-up tent, dislodged panniers, locked bike, and dove into my own sanctuary so quickly!! At that time my tent was fairly pristine, meaning no tiny ant holes in the floor, meaning, it did't leak. I slept atop of a slushing waterbed that night, as I jumped from the massive claps of thunder and lightening.
The next morning I washed in the cold spring water, hung my clothes to dry, ate some cereal, and then headed out to explore the ancient city of Aezani in the freshness of a day following a Spring thunderstorm. My first encounter (besides the dominating Temple of Zeus) lay at the edge of the temple sanctuary, where along the southeast corner the fencing, the Roman Bouleuterion was being excavated (pictured above and below).
Pictured above, steps lead to an under-passage that takes one to entrance of the Bouleuterion, much similar to the Bouleuterion at ancient Iasos.
With the orchestra and cavea seating in the foreground, and the Temple of Zeus piercing the sunny blue sky in the distance, this was turning out to be a joyous start to the day. About a hundred and fifty meters up the road to the right on which the the red tractor is parked, is where I camped for two nights. The paved road that runs in front of the tractor leads to the Lower Penkalas Bridge, and the the detour bridge further down river.
As you can see in the photo below, the ancient city is buried about 2-3 meters under the surface, and runs under the active village of old Cavdarhisar.
Leaving the Temple of Zeus for later exploration, I wanted to walk around the old village to see what might be hidden around the nooks and crannies of the delapidated looking structures that housed the farmers and their families in simple comfort. The first monument to present itself was the 2C AD Roman Bath complex (pictured below).
With most of the stone blocks having been quarried for the construction of other building, what remains are the structural members that have been buried under the 2-3 meters of soil through the centuries. The red roofed building in the photo below contains the most interesting of the remaining mosaics, and though there is a guard box, the gate was locked. I would return on the back of a scooter after requesting entry at the main office, which is located on the grounds of the Temple of Zeus.
The thing that I find most interesting about many Roman bath complexes is, that our sport and bath complexes are a direct descendant of these two-thousand year old facilities. While a plethora of building materials have been added to the menu in the construction of our sports stadiums and and theaters, perhaps to the detriment of our natural environment, the designed are relative cousins.
Further, that the Greeks and Romans gained much of the wealth and leisure due to slavery is not lost when considering their advances in society, while we so-called moderns have gained it through the exploitation of another slave, oil. Pictured above and below is a swimming pool of grand proportion, with its tiled bottom, elongated stepped entrance, and classical arched ends, that if the plaster were re-applied to the brick surface, one would be challenged to explain the differences between then and now.
The mosaics of the Roman Bath at Aezani would be a masterful addition to any modern facility. Prior to their discovery, the mosaics were simply the floor of a local farmers barn.
A few centuries after its construction, the thermal baths were converted into the bishops' seat. This would have been quite a residence for a member of the meek.
It would appear that a Maenads, a member of highest significance to the Thiasus, which is part of the god Dionysus' retinue, has taken to dance with a Satyr (pictured below).
Maenads arrive out of Greek mythology, and translates as 'raving ones', which on the surface would seem quite inappropriate for the seat of a bishop.
The section of mosaic to the left of the Satyr can be seen in the photo pictured above.
The section of mosaic to the right of the Maenads can be seen in the photo below.
Leaving the bath complex behind, I roamed the winding streets of the old village until I arrived at the river, where I could see the Upper Penkalas Bridge in the distance down river, and both banks lined with ancient building members as evidence that the sprawling metropolis incorporated the river as vital resource of the city.
Here, to my surprise, I was also able to witness the true endurance of the Renault Toros, the toughest, and ugliest car ever mass produced. It is the preferred mode of transportation by many rural families, because its cheap, tough, easy and simple to repair, and climbs hilly terrain like mule.
So, what exactly did I witnessed? As I looked on, out from the tree-line comes this little Toros that could, barreling toward the river, zips down the bank with a big splash, fords its way across the depths, and then zips up the opposite bank. Wow! No detour bridge necessary, thanks!!
Though the city plan does not specifically designate the banks of the river with regard to their use, it is obvious that there were some monument located along the main sections of the river. For example, on the opposite bank further down from the spot in the photos pictured above and below, is where the Agora was/is located (between the red tractor and the river seen in previous photos).
The lion paws sculpted in the base of the member pictured above are exquisite, and I might propose that this base could have supported a dedicatory block with inscription, or, perhaps it was simply a bench on which passers by could rest themselves while on a evening stroll.
Walking down river, I passed the Upper Penkalas Bridge finding my way to the Lower Penkalas Bridge, which is approximately 290 meters further downriver (pictured above and below). Both bridges are dated to around the 2C AD, and as mentioned above, both have a very similar design.
In dire need of restoration, the German archeological team has erected supports under the arches in preparation for the new stone blocks to be secured in place (pictured above).
With the numerous fresh water springs feeding the river to provide a steady source of life sustenance to the farmers' fields and the human population, Aizani built on this to become one of the richest cities within the province and beyond.
The photo above shows the downriver side of the bridge, with the Seljuk Tomb and mosque in the distance, which is where the Macellum and Stoa are located. The photo below shows the upriver side of the bridge, and beyond the abandon white house is where the Agora is located.
The ruts in the surface of the bridge formed by the constant cart traffic over the millennia is a testament to the busy commerce and movement between the Mecullem, or provision market, which saw the sale of meat, fish, and fresh vegetables, and the Agora, where everyday items would be sold (pictured below).
The Macellum at Aezani is very special indeed, because it contains in its circular wall a nearly complete copy of the Edictum de Pretiis, which was issued by Diocletian in 301 AD, in an attempt to control the prices of goods and the wages of workers (pictured below).
The Macellum building at Aezani was a magnificent structure, basically, the equivalent of a modern day shopping mall. It is unfortunate that no complete macellum building survives throughout the Mediterranean, however, there are other similar remains at ancient Sagalassos, and the macellum at ancient Aigai has the most complete market building in proximity to the macellum tholos structure.
Both side of the Penkalas were active sections of the ancient city, though it is speculated that the area surrounding the Temple of Zeus was developed earlier than the area of the Macellum, Colonnaded Street, Stoa, and Roman Bath, which was shown earlier.
The Seljuk Tomb pictured in these photos was built after the fall of the Eastern Roman Empire in this area of Anatolia, and while the expansion of ancient Aezani is evidence of the wealth it had accumulated, this tomb alone is proof of the vulnerability that of this once mighty empire.
Fulvius Asticus, the governor of Caria and Phrygia, had the Edict of Diocletian placed at the center of commerce and trade on the Macellum Tholos wall for all to plainly view the Draconian rules, that if violated, could result in death.
The circular wall pictured below contains the Edict of Diocletian, and though it is difficult to see, there are some closer photos of the inscription further down. These photos are pretty high resolution, so, if you click on the photos, you should get a more detailed view.
Edict of DiocletianDiocletian, Maximian, Constatius and Galerius declare:As we recall the wars which we have successfully fought, we must be grateful to the fortune of our state, second only to the immortal gods, for a tranquil world that reclines in the embrace of the most profound calm, and for the blessings of a peace that was won with great effort. That this fortune of our state be stabilized and suitably adorned is demanded by the law-abiding public and by the dignity and majesty of Rome. Therefore we, who by the gracious favor of the gods previously stemmed the tide of the ravages of barbarian nations by destroying them, must surround the peace which we established for eternity with the necessary defenses of justice.If the excesses perpetrated by persons of unlimited and frenzied avarice could be checked by some self-restraint—this avarice which rushes for gain and profit with no thought for mankind; or if the general welfare could endure without harm this riotous license by which, in its unfortunate state, it is being very seriously injured every day, the situation could perhaps be faced with dissembling and silence, with the hope that human forbearance might alleviate the cruel and pitiable situation. But the only desire of these uncontrolled madmen is to have no thought for the common need. Among the unscrupulous, the immoderate, and the avaricious it is considered almost a creed to desist from plundering the wealth of all only when necessity compels them. Through their extreme need, moreover, some persons have become acutely aware of their most unfortunate situation, and can no longer close their eyes to it. Therefore we, who are the protectors of the human race, are agreed, as we view the situation, that decisive legislation is necessary, so that the long-hoped-for solutions which mankind itself could not provide may, by the remedies provided by our foresight, be vouchsafed for the general betterment of all.We hasten, therefore, to apply the remedies long demanded by the situation, satisfied that no one can complain that our intervention with regulations is untimely or unnecessary, trivial or unimportant. These measures are directed against the unscrupulous, who have perceived in our silence of so many years a lesson in restraint but have been unwilling to imitate it. For who is so insensitive and so devoid of human feeling that he can be unaware or has not perceived that uncontrolled prices are widespread in the sales taking place in the markets and in the daily life of the cities? Nor is the uncurbed passion for profiteering lessened either by abundant supplies or by fruitful years.It is our pleasure, therefore, that the prices listed in the subjoined schedule be held in observance in the whole of our Empire.It is our pleasure that anyone who resists the measures of this statute shall be subject to a capital penalty for daring to do so. And let no one consider the statute harsh, since there is at hand a ready protection from danger in the observance of moderation. We therefore exhort the loyalty of all, so that a regulation instituted for the public good, may be observed with willing obedience and due scruple, especially as it is seen that by a statute of this kind provision has been made, not for single municipalities and peoples and provinces but for the whole world.The prices for the sale of individual items which no one may exceed are listed below.Denarli
I. Wheat 1 army modius a 100Barley 1 army modius 60Rye 1 army modius 60Millet, ground 1 army modi us 100Millet, whole 1 army modius 50Panic grass 1 army modius 50Spelt, hulled 1 army modius 100Beans, crushed 1 army modius 100Beans, not ground 1 army modius 60Lentils 1 army modius 100Pulse 1 army modius 80Peas, split 1 army modius 100Peas, not split 1 army modius 60Rice, cleaned 1 army modius 200Barley grits, cleaned 1 modius 100Spelt grits, cleaned 1 modius 200Sesame 1 army modius 200II. Likewise, for wines:Picene 1 Italian sextarius 30Tiburtine 1 Italian sextarius 30Sabine 1 Italian sextarius 30Falernian 1 Italian sextarius 30Aged wine, first quality 1 Italian sextarius 24Aged wine, second quality 1 Italian sextarius 16Ordinary 1 Italian sextarius 8Beer, Gallic or Pannonian 1 Italian sextarius 4Beer, Egyptian 1 Italian sextarius 2III. Likewise, for oil:From unripe olives 1 Italian sextarius 40Second quality 1 Italian sextarius 24Salt 1 army modius 100Spiced salt 1 Italian sextarius 8Honey, best quality 1 Italian sextarius 40Honey, second quality 1 Italian sextarius 24IV. Likewise, for meat:Pork 1 Italian pound 12Beef 1 Italian pound 8Leg of pork, Menapic orCerritane, best 1 Italian pound 20Pork mincemeat 1 ounce 2Beef mincemeat 1 Italian pound 10Pheasant, fattened 250Pheasant, wild 125Chickens 1 brace 60Venison 1 Italian pound 12Butter 1 Italian pound 16V. Likewise, for fish:Sea fish with rough scales 1 Italian pound 24Fish, second quality 1 Italian pound 16River fish, best quality 1 Italian pound 12River fish, second quality 1 Italian pound 8Salt fish 1 Italian pound 6Oysters 100 100VII. For wages:Farm laborer, with maintenance (daily) 25Carpenter, as above (daily) 50Wall painter, as above (daily) 75Picture painter, as above (daily) 150Baker, as above (daily) 50Shipwright working on a seagoing ship, as above (daily) 60Shipwright working on a river boat, as above (daily) 50Muleteer, with maintenance (daily) 25Veterinary, for clipping and preparing hoofs (per animal) 6Veterinary, for bleeding and cleaning the head (per animal) 20Barber (per man) 2Sewer cleaner, working a full day, with maintenance (daily) 25Scribe, for the best writing (per 100 lines) 25Scribe, for second-quality writing (per 100 lines) 20Notary, for writing a petition or legal document (per 100 lines) 10Elementary teacher per boy (monthly) 50Teacher of arithmetic, per boy (monthly) 75Teacher of shorthand, per boy (monthly) 75Teacher of Greek or Latin languageand literature, and teacher of geometry, per pupil (monthly) 200Teacher of rhetoric or public speaking, per pupil (monthly) 250Advocate or jurist, fee for a complaint 250Advocate or jurist, fee for pleading 1000Teacher of architecture, per boy (monthly) 100Check room attendant, per bather 2Corpus Inscriptionum Latinarum, vol. III, pp. 801—841, 1055—1058, 1909—1953, 2208—2211, 2328 (Economic Survey of Ancient Rome, T.Frank, 5:307— 421), and, Transactions of the American Philological Association (1940) 71:157—74; Adapted in part from the translation of E. Graser
To see the inscription of the Edict of Diocletian alone is well worth the journey to Aezani, and that this 2C AD Tholos wall has survived through the millennia, while the rest of the Macellum building has been quarried for all manner of construction, is quite astonishing.
Perhaps sculpted to impress not only the sellers and traders of the Aezani markets, but perhaps Diocletian himself, as his residence in Nicomedia was not too far distance away, and this major producer of wheat and sheep may have been under the close scrutiny of the authorities. In the end, the edict failed to do what it was intended for, and within a few years was nullified by Constantine.
Nearby, and once connecting to the Macellum, is the 5C AD Colonnaded Street, which to my eye displays some of the finest late Roman decorative sculpture, and there is an explainable reason for this; like many buildings or monuments of later construction, building materials were quarried from earlier structures.
The Colonnaded Street is nearly 450 meters in length, and as you can see in the photos below, the street has yet to be fully excavated, and continues for quite some distance under a meter or so of soil.
With regard to the Colonnaded Street, it was built at the expense of the Temple of Artemis, which was dismantled for its materials, and, perhaps because Christianity had spread throughout the Roman empire during the 4C AD, eventually to become the official state religion by the end of that century.
By the 5C AD, Artemis was in critical condition and surviving on life-support, thus, her temple had no interest nor funds, nor value, except for its structural members, which were sculpted in everlasting beauty, and a perfection deserving of the gods and goddesses.
Pictured above in low relief, the attribute of the goddess Artemis, the deer stands straight, in beauty and strength.
The repurposed building materials used for the Colonnaded Street have allowed the virtual reconstruction of the Temple of Artemis, including the architrave pictured in the photo below.
Again, under closer observation, one can delineate the masterful beauty of artistic sculpting dedicated to these earlier Roman structures, especially when compared with the late-Roman and early Byzantine work.
Dedicatory bases were also relocated to the Colonnaded street for decorative function, and more than likely, the descendents of those who were honored through these stone monoliths continued to be prominent families in the community.
As I stated in the beginning, Aezani is a very large site that is spread over several kilometers. From the Theater and Stadium at one end, to the distant Necropolis far down river (which I did venture to investigate). However, I did not investigate the large spread out Necropolis that is located in the hills surrounding the Theater and Stadium area. Due to the size of this site, there will be a three part series dedicated to ancient Aesani (Latinized), or Aizanoi, as the ancient Greeks knew it. Pictured below, the Temple of Zeus, with Kybele in its belly!
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