Sunday, September 16, 2007

Turkey Travelogue 8d - Public Life in Ancient Aphrodisias

The Aphrodisiacs Aphrodisians were into water--and a good thing too, because the city was built in a low-lying area and was subject to flooding (at least after a 4th century earthquake).

The architects responsible for the distinctive agora capitalized on the ready supply of water by building the marketplace around a long oval pool now filled with green grass:
The Aphrodisians were also into bathing. We passed two massive bath complexes including the Theatre Baths:
...and the Baths of Hadrian:

They were also into worship. In 1979, archaeologists discovered a Sebasteion, dedicated to the worship of Aphrodite and the Emperor Augustus (and family), "dated to the first half of the 1C AD" (Blue Guide):(We weren't allowed in, but the sculptures are presumably in the museum anyway. You can see pictures of some of them here.)

Traditional polytheistic Greco-Roman religion appears to have lingered on in Aphrodisias well after the conversion of Constantine. In the 6th century CE, the temple of Aphrodite was converted into a Christian basilica:

And, of course, the Aphrodisians were into theatre:
The only hill in town is a man-made tell that rises behind the theatre, built up over centuries of human habitation. (Archaeologists have found human artifacts in the tell dated to ca. 5800 BCE.) Earthquakes in the 4th and 7th centuries crippled the city, now known as Stavropolis ('city of the cross'); its changing fortunes--and the weaker condition of the Byzantine empire--called for more utilitarian structures. After the second earthquake, the tell and the ruined theatre were transformed into a fortress.

What was left of the city fell to the Selçuk Turks in the 12th century; it was abandoned in the 13th.

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