Photos by Jack A. Waldron
The ancient site of Aezani was submitted for inscription on the UNESCO World Heritage List in 2012, and with the fanfare and recognition that that hopefully brings with it, we may one day walk through a restored ancient site on the scale of Ephesus, or Aphrodisias.
The podium of the temple measures 33 x 37 meters, and is located beneath the soil buildup at the foot of the crepidoma. Pictured below is a sketch of the Temple of Zeus by Sir Charles Fellows, and except for the recent destructive restoration work, the temple appears today nearly as it did in 1839. However, the crepidoma does not appear to be represented in sketch for some reason, and it may be possible that it has been restored since.
Apparently, as has been deducted from the inscriptions on the architrave, it was under the emperor Domitian (81-96 AD) that construction of the Temple of Zeus began. However, if this is truly the case, then the process of getting the temple construction underway was anything but swift. Another inscription on the wall of the opisthodomos indicates that there was a dispute with regard to the purchase or acquiring of the land on which the temple is built. There is also a land boarder stone inscription that confirms the dispute, and with these two pieces of evidence, the dispute appears to have been settled in or around 126 AD. Furthermore, they also record assistance from Hadrian, and the euergetism of Marcus Apuleius Eurykles.
Under the Hellenes, the rich had a social custom of helping the poor, which in turn became a social obligation during the Roman Republic. Up until the 3C AD, the private euergetism helped fund the poor, civic events, and also the construction of theaters, stadiums, baths, gymnasiums, libraries, fountains, agoras, and so on.
The names of these benefactors is often recorded in inscriptions on dedicatory monuments on or near these structures. As economic pressures became more and more pronounced during the 3C AD, euregetism was slowly replaced by imperial funding. In the case of the Temple of Zeus at Aesani, it appears from inscription that there was a combination of funding for its construction.
The Temple of Zeus at Aezani is pseudodipteral, which is a Greek style, and has eight columns across the front and back of the structure, with fifteen along the sides. Pseudodipteral refers to the single peristyle that surrounds the cella, whereas dipteral temples have two peristyles.
Though the temple was damaged by the Gediz earthquake in 1970, it was restored in the succeeding years; however, concrete was used in that major restoration, which has left a very problematic archeological conundrum, when and how to restore the damage from the previous restoration?
Pictured below, another sketch of the temple by Sir Charles Fellows from 1839.
The current practice requires the adhesion of matching material to the remaining structural members, whether this is forming three dimensional pieces through the sculpting of new sections that fit with pre-existing members, or, the replacement of missing or fully corrupted members.
In the photos above and below, you can see the difference in color between the original stone, and the concrete replacement sections. When you stand close to structures that have been restored using this technique, the scares left by expert hands can really be felt as a sharp pain to the aesthetic that these monuments were meant to embody.
The Temple of Zeus at Aezani is one of the best preserved Roman temples in all of Turkey; that being said, and though smaller, the Roman temples at ancient Adada are in excellent condition.
It was believed that the temple was dedicated to both Zeus and Cybele, with the aboveground section being the sanctuary of Zeus, while the underground section harboring the sanctuary of Cybele. The reason for this dual dedication stemmed from the female acroterion on display in front of the temple, but this has since been disputed.
Located on the inner wall of the opisthodomos, there is a very interesting inscription that pertains to the construction of the temple, which was meantioned above. The only remaining wall of the opisthodomos can be seen in the left side of the photo above. If you look closely at the following photos, you will be able to see the inscription on the inner wall of the opisthodomos, which is explained below.
Commentary:This bilingual text was carved on a boundary stone and two other more fragmentary copies are also known (MAMA IX 8-9). They have all been found in the territory of Aizanoi, a city in north-western Phrygia (or Epictetus in Antiquity) close to the province of Bithynia. The inscriptions therefore had a clear practical purpose of delimitation and will shed light on the resolution of land conflicts in the provinces of the eastern Mediterranean, the intervention of the Roman emperor with his officials, and the importance of local religious sanctuaries.
The text is concise, containing first an abbreviated version of Hadrian’s titulature that does not mention the dynastic connections typical of his monumental inscriptions (see Hekster, Emperors, p. 180-181). The list of civil offices is more detailed because it provides the reader with a precise dating. The reference to the 13th tribunician powers places the setting up of the stone between 10th December 128 and 9th December 129 CE. In this year, the emperor is said to have restored (restituit/ἀποκατέστησεν) the territory (fines/χώραι) to the founder (conditor/κτίστης) Zeus and the city (civitas/πόλις) of the Aizanitai, which was originally given by the kings Attalos and Prusias. This territory comprised the sacred lands belonging to the very important temple of Zeus, the remains of which can still be seen today (see Naumann, Der Zeustempel). For the identification of the Hellenistic kings, there are two possibilities: Attalos I (251-197 BCE) or Attalos II (159-139/8); and Prusias I (230/227-182) or Prusias II (182-149). Since the latter does not seem to have controlled the territory of north-eastern Phrygia in the mid-second century BCE, the earlier chronology with Attalos I and Prusias I is more plausible, particularly on account of the confrontations attested between the royal houses of Pergamum and Bithynia to which they respectively belonged at the end of the 3rd century BCE (see Laffi, “I terreni”, p. 19; Levick, Monuments, p. xl). Accordingly, the significance of this temple probably predated the constitution of Aizanoi as a city, which is first attested only by Strabo (Geography XII.8.12) at the beginning of the imperial period. The Bithynian king Prusias had set (egerat/ἤρξατο) the boundaries of these lands and, under Hadrian, a Roman soldier of high rank primipilaris (i.e. chief centurion of the first cohort) was put in charge of measuring everything again. What motivated this procedure after two centuries?
Had the boundary stones only survived, it would have been very difficult to clarify the incident. However, a dossier of related documents carved directly on the walls of Zeus’s temple enable us to offer a rare insight into the process. The large inscription contains four letters either received or sent by the proconsul T. Avidius Quietus; one in Greek (MAMA IX P.1) and three in Latin (MAMA IX P.2-4). He was governor of Asia in 125-126 CE and wrote the following passage in his communications with the local institutions of Aizanoi: “For when I wrote to him (Hadrian) explaining the whole matter, and asked him what should be done (concerning the) two things which specially stir up the dispute among you and provide the intractable and obscure nub of the matter, combining justice with humanity in accordance with his concern for judicial cases, he has resolved your long-standing strife and mutual suspicion, as you will learn from the letter which he sent to me, of which I send you a copy” [trans. Levick, Monuments, p. xxxviii]. This administrative procedure resembles closely the testimony given by Pliny the Younger when he was in Bithynia-Pontus. A serious local dispute had arisen and the governor decided to consult the emperor who provided an authoritative solution (see Burton, “The Resolution”). From other parts of the letter, we know that this case started when Mettius Modestus was provincial governor in 119-120 CE (PIR2 M. 568), and was concerned with the failure of some unspecified individuals to pay the vectigal for the plots of land (κλῆρος/klêros) which the temple of Zeus (and hence the city of Aizanoi) claimed as theirs (see Levick, Monument, p. xxxix). After six years of constant litigation creating that state of “long-standing strife and mutual suspicion,” the remaining letters of the dossier show that Avidius Quietus contacted the imperial procurator Hesperus in order to establish the dimensions of the sacred lands of the temple (see Christol, “De Leptis Magna,” p. 199-200 on Hesperus’s identity and career). This followed the response of Hadrian, who determined that a new delimitation was necessary. Given that the final boundary stones are dated to 128/9 CE, it must be inferred that the whole conflict still took two extra-years to be settled.
Together with this complex and constant communication circulating between Hadrian and members of his administration, the local diplomatic efforts of the institutions of Aizanoi must have played a very important role too. In their missions to the provincial governors and even the Roman emperor, they certainly provided all the supporting evidence at their disposal. For example, the grant of tax-exemption by Augustus to a minister of the temple of Zeus was carved on stone and the local archives should have kept a copy (MAMA IX C13; a new edition and commentary has recently been produced by Wörrle, “Neue Inschriftenfunde”). Another recently discovered letter of Julius Caesar (SEG 59.1479) confirms that the dictator also favoured the city and hence the people of Aizanoi could demonstrate both their loyalty to Rome and the ancient nature of their claim. The references made by Hadrian to Hellenistic monarchs should be read against the same documentary background. In this regard, it is particularly interesting to note that not only imperial precedents are taken into consideration but also those predating Roman domination. Indeed, this Roman emperor was renowned for his favouritism towards Greek antiquity (HA, Hadrian I.5; Aurelius Victor, De Caesaribus XIV.2; see Fein, Die Beziehungen), to which Aizanoi allegedly belonged. Pausanias reports that the first settlers of this region came from the Peloponnesian region of Arcadia (Description of Greece VIII.4.3; X.32.3), a proconsul acknowledged their distinguished origin (MAMA IX P.24),and Antoninus Pius will accordingly confirm the admission of the polis to the commonalty of Greek cities (or Panhellenion) inaugurated by his predecessor (MAMA IX P.6-9).
The case of Aizanoi is not only important for illustrating Hadrian’s policy, but also for attesting that his governance activity did not cease when he was on the move. Whereas his letter to Avidius Quietus was most likely sent from Italy in 126 CE, the instructions inscribed on the boundary stones are dated to the year in which he departed from Athens, reached Asia, and headed eastward towards the Levant (see Halfmann, Itinera, p. 192-193). Inscriptions from places such as Ephesus, Miletus, and Gerasa show the impact of his visits, which also provided the local population with better chances to reach imperial grants as attested in the foundation of the Demostheneia festival. The presence of Roman officials, however, was not limited to these journeys. In the case of soldiers, their passage and stay normally brought negative effects that needed to be regulated by edicts. And yet, they were necessary to implement the actions of the imperial administration and even its benefactions; for example, when a legionary officer is attested and honoured in Delphi for supervising the new constructions sponsored by Hadrian. The reference to the member of the army, Septimius Saturninus, as the provider of measurements belongs to the same context. Consequently, it sheds light on the extent to which the local population had to accept Roman control, even in cases apparently benefitting them. After almost a decade of dispute, the people of Aizanoi could finally confirm the size of their lands and secure more resources for their founding god Zeus (see Dignas, Economy of the Sacred, p. 178-188). Ancient precedents had been decisive, but the present solution of Hadrian still needed to be inscribed in both Greek and Latin for those who may have decided to challenge the limits of memory in the future.Publications:Levick, Barbara, Mitchell, Stephen, Monumenta Asiae Minoris Antiqua IX: Monuments from the Aezanitis, London, Society for the Promotion of Roman Studies, 1988, p. 5 [AE 1940.44]
The dispute with regard to the temple land, why the planning and eventual construction took so many years, and the reason the emperor was sought out for arbitration is as follows; in order to raise funds for building of the temple, temple land was leased out to various tenants, who over the years had failed to pay the rental fees that had been agreed on.
In the end, the revenue was seized and construction of the temple began, but it was under the weight of the emperor Hadrian himself, that the dispute was settled. The letters that were exchanged between the emperor Hadrian and the city of Aizanoi were so prized, that they were engraved into the north wall of the pronaos for all to read.
As you can see in the photo above, there are temple members scattered all around the structure, both above and below ground. If Aezani/Aizanoi is able to become a full fledged member of the UNESCO list, there is a great chance that the structure will be properly restored.
Once restored, I would love to see the building turned into a first class museum, much like the Baths/Museum at Hieropolis at Pamukkale.
The exterior of the north wall is also adorned with a lengthy inscription (pictured above and below), only this gives honor for the euergetism of Marcus Apuleius Eurykles, who contributed handsomely for the temples construction.
Apparently, there is also an inscription on the bridge known as 'bridge 4', that gives honor to Marus Apuleius Eurykles for his contribution for its contruction.
The village of Cavdarhisar takes its name from the 13C AD Cavdar Tartars, who during the period of the Seljuk dynasties occupied the city, and turned the temple-plateau into a fortified citadel. Amongst the north wall inscriptions are are engraved depictions of the lives of these invaders, though they are quite difficult to catch with a camera.
Azan, a mythical hero who was one of three sons of the legendary king Arkas, and the nymph Erato, is said to have settled along the banks of the river Penkalas, near the cave of the goddess Meter Steunene (worshipped at Aizanoi as Kybele). Note: I did search hard for this site (cave) down river, and I will report on that adventure in part three.
It is from the legend of Azan, that the city of Aizanoi took its name, and further, became the capital city of Aizanitis, which was in the land of the Phrygians.
Pictured above, a close view of the ionic fluted columns, while below, a coin minted in Aizanoi proudly displays the magnificent temple and its namesake, Zeus.
As mentioned above, the female acroterion found on site and now on display in front of the temple led researches to speculate that the temple was dedicated to both Zeus and Kybele, with the enormous cellar underneath the temple believed to be the sanctuary of Kybele.
It is now believed that the cellar may have been used as a store room for the harvests from temple lands. Regardless, this space is very impressive, and I personally have not seen anything like it in all my investigations of ancient monuments.
As in the past, a steep staircase takes us out of the scorching humid surface climate into the cool dryness of serene antiquity, where now display are valuable ancient findings, but where once were piled sacks of grain, amphoras of olive oil, and so on.
Sun lights designed into the architecture of the building allow ample amounts of light to permiate the space, eliminating any need for torches during daytime work.
The construction of the vaulted roof of the cellar has stood the test of time, and is a testament to the architectural prowess of the designers, and the artisans, who built a structure which will probably last for millennia to come.
As I stated above, if the temple can be restored to a near original state of strength, I see no reason for the cella and cellar not to turned into proper museum space. I personally would pay a higher ticket price for admission. Further, I think the current admission prices for ancient sites around the country are much much too low, and I would require all funds to be pooled and distributed much more equally to the uncountable sites around the country. If tourism is your bread and butter, finance it!
If the Temple of Zeus is not a perfect enough poster child for the need of further financing and restoration, the unique Theater and Stadium complex is should be! Pictured below, a view of the Theater and the connecting Stadium that stretches into the distance beyond the stage building.
From inscriptions, we know that construction of the Theater and Stadium complex commenced from 160AD, and was completed in the 3C AD. It is not completely unusual for an ancient theater and stadium to be connected to create such a complex, however, for a stadium to extend out lengthwise from the theater is quite unique.
Other examples of ancient cities that connected their theater and stadiums to form a complex can be seen at ancient Selge, ancient Pessinus, and ancient Sardis.
A dedicatory monument with inscriptions surrounded by victory wreaths is situated at the far end of the Stadium opposite the Theater (pictured above and below).
Immortalized in stone, yet we can never know in depth just who these victors were; one wonders if the digital age will change this, allowing those of the masses who were accomplished during there own time, will be known to those of future times . . . , to counter quote T. E. Lawerance from 'Lawerance of Arabia' with an unrelated twist, everything is written, or, collected.
I just stand in awe, that two-thousand years later, it would not be surprising in the least to see such a monument as the one pictured here, erected in dedication in a so called modern city of today.
Pictured above and below, a view of the Stadium field from just inside the Dedicatory Monument, with the Theater visible in the far distance. On the left side of the Stadium we can see the main entrance building to the stadium complex (pictured below).
Rows of seating on the opposite side of the field across from the stadium building and main entrance to the stadium complex can be seen. Though buried beneath a massive elongated mound running the length of the field, it conjoins the front wall of the theater (pictured below).
Pictured below, the stadium building and main entrance to the stadium complex is seen from the field. The central box of the Stadium would have been reserved for high officials, dignitaries, judges, VIP guests, and so on.
I would have loved to explore the entrances and hidden cavities of the stadium building much more, but the overgrowth was chest high, and with the number of scorpions and the size of the snakes that I have previously encountered, I gave it a pass.
I hiked around the end of the stadium to view the exterior of the stadium building and main entrance to the stadium complex, which in no way disappointed!
As you can see in the photos above and below, the ancient ground level is much lower than today, so, on approach to the stadium, it is no possible to see the arched passageways, and I can imagine that most tourists never see this portion of the structure.
The stadium building is beautifully designed with two levels of arched openings, the lower for spectators to enter the complex, the upper for pure aesthetics. If consider this monument when we look at the design of the Los Angeles colosseum, we can truly see what they were aiming for.
The upper row of columned arches have collapsed over the millennia due to earthquakes, but you can see the base of the upper section in the photo below. This building was a statement on a grade scale!
Continuing on to the Theater, we can see how the stadium seating buttresses against the theater building. The field leading up to the stage building is littered with sections of the building, including exquisite marble sculptures that once decorated the facade.
Pictured below, the right side of the theater, with the rows of stadium seating bent and curved liked an ocean wave as a result of numerous earthquakes.
Pictured below, the left side of the theater building, with the stage building facade rising in the right of the photo.
The facade of the theater building was magnificently decorated with scenes of lions taking down bulls, appropriate for the gladiatorial games that would have taken place with both arenas.
All sculpted in marble, the three story stage building (four if one includes the lowest level beneath the surface of the inner theater) was supported by semi-fluted Ionic columns on the first level, and non-fluted Corinthian columns on the upper levels, excepting the second tier central columns.
Doors opened up to both sides of the stage building, with one huge door in the center that rose high above the stage, and which was adorned with two grande semi-fluted Corinthian columns on either side.
As you can see in the photos above and below, the lowest level of the stage building was decorated handsomely in marble sculpture, here the metope still in place above several entrances that lead beneath the stage.
Pictured below, a section of the frieze that depicts a lion thrusting at a bird of prey. These sections are scattered around the orchestra and outside the stage building.
A depot has been organized just outside the north section of stadium seating, where the theater building members are being categorized for possible future restoration (pictured below).
Once inside the theater, one can see that the stage building is not attached to the frontal walls of the theater seating (pictured below).
Though the massive central door is now collapsed, the height of the doors to the right and left of the central door (pictured below) should give some indication of its size.
Pictured below, the central door of the stage building, now collapsed, with the scene still erect on either side.
Walking amongst the decorative sculptures of the scene is a hazard, but the photographic reward is immense. The detail and artistry that went into each piece in impressive, and the time it took unimaginable, though we now from inscriptions that the complex took two millennia to complete.
Without narration, I will allow your eyes to dance among the fallen members of this once standing work of art, little reduced in its ornate beauty.
The Theater at Aezani was designed for a capacity of 20,000, and with UNESCO backing, it may once again be restored to hold an audience of that size again.
Many sections of the theater seating have reserved inscriptions in them from ancient times. These include reservations for individuals, groups, clubs, teams, orders, families, and so on (pictured above and below).
Pictured above, a view of the theater scene from outside the once vaulted entrance to the diazoma. Pictured below, a good view of the stadium seating as it rises from the field and meets the stadium building at the top left of the photo.
This Stadium-Theater complex is the one of its kind from the ancient world, and I have no doubt that it will be restored eventually.
The shocking thing here is that, there is no entrance fee for the Stadium-Theater complex. It's free.
Further, there is no charge to see the Macellum, the Colonnaded Street, the bridges, etc. There is a nominal charge to enter the Temple of Zeus, but that's it. The rest of the ancient city is free for us to roam.
As I write this, the Turkish lira is 5.94 to $1 USD, which means, it costs $2 to enter the Temple of Zeus. Though I did not stay at the four star hotel in Cavdarhisar (the village next to Aezani), it costs around $35 per night, including breakfast. Turkey is on sale for tourists!
*All photos and content property of Jack A. Waldron (photos may not be used without written permission)
**If you'd like to help with future postings, please feel free to support them through PATREON: