The Ancient Greek city of Aizanoi in modern-day western Turkey has for long proven itself to be a treasure trove of archaeological artifacts. It contains one of the best-preserved temples dedicated to the Greek god, Zeus as well as a theater-stadium complex dedicated to the statues of Greek gods. Recently, two Roman-era workshops and statue heads were discovered in Aizanoi which throw new light on life in the ancient city.
According to the Smithsonian Magazine, the latest excavations were headed by the archaeologist Gokhan Coskun from the Kutahya Dumlupinar University. His team had uncovered a bone workshop and an oil lamp shop. The ancient residents of the city made art as well as everyday items like spoons and hairpins in the bone workshop. These discoveries had followed the discovery of a headless statue of Hygieia, the Greco-Roman goddess of health. A few months after this the team dug up stone heads of Aphrodite and Dionysus in a creek nearby.
The workshops gave very invaluable insight into the actual daily life in the city. According to Coskun, the findings from both workshops show that local products were manufactured in the city of Aizanoi. For Coskun and his team, it was important to know that essential production activity had been carried out in the city during the Roman era. The initial evidence of the founding of the city of Aizanoi can be dated to the third millennium BC. The city was situated around 31 miles from the center of the present-day city of Kutahya. Aizanoi had been occupied by several ancient cultures in Anatolia including the Phrygians, the Pergamon kingdom, and the kingdom of Bithynia before it was taken over by Rome in 133 BC.
Aizanoi then flourished as a regional commercial hub, producing commodities from cereal, wine, wool, and stone products. The team led by Coskun had carried out excavations at the site of Aiznoi previously but they hadn’t anything like the bone workshop from the agora, which was a public space used for markets and assemblies by the Ancient Greeks. During the excavations, thousands of bone fragments were found inside one of the stores which were mostly those of cattle. It is believed that some of the bone fragments were used as raw materials, and were never processed but some of them were being processed but were incomplete and unfinished. Some of the pieces were turned into works of art.
The bone workshop was located during the Roman period in the Agora and served as both a workshop and a sales shop. The processed artifacts mostly included women’s hairpins and spoons. The areas which had been excavated in the agora by the archaeologists under Coskun had never been excavated previously according to Coskun. In addition to the bone workshop, they also discovered an oil lamp shop which was also in the Agora. These structures had incredibly survived the ravages of time and remained intact.
During the excavations of the oil lamp shop, the team discovered many intact as well as broken oil lamps which had been used as lighting tools during the ancient period. The team found that not only were there oil lamps being sold in Aizanoi but also oil was poured into the lamps and being burned at the time.
The discovery of the headless statue of Hygieia and the subsequent discovery of the two stone heads which purportedly belong to Aphrodite and Dionysus was another remarkable find for the team. Aphrodite, the Greek goddess of love, and Dionysus, the Greek god of wine had been depicted as lovers in several Greek myths. The team of archaeologists believes that the discovery of the stone heads may bring about the discovery of more interesting finds later. The finds also show that the polytheistic culture of Ancient Greece existed for a long time and didn’t lose its importance in the Roman period. The discoveries suggest the existence of a sculpture workshop in the region.