Sekhmet from the Red Basilica ‘Restored’

From Hurriyet:

An almost nine-meter long lion-headed Egyptian goddess Sekhmet has been revived in the Red Basilica (Kızıl Avlu) in the largest structure of the ancient city of Pergamon in İzmir’s Bergama district, and opened to visits on Sept. 26. The statue has already drawn great interest from tourists in the area.

German Excavation Institute Chairman Ferix Pilson said it would contribute to Bergama’s inclusion in the UNESO Cultural Heritage list in June next year.

The Egyptian statue pieces found during the excavations since 1930 in the Red Basilica are among the most important statues from the Roman Empire. Among them, the lion-headed goddess statue was reconstructed thanks to the support of the Studiosus Foundation. The statue was raised last year for trial purposes and with further works, and it reached an impressive height of 8.5 meters.

… the original article includes a photo, which I have to include here because this is among the worst ‘restorations’ of any statue I’ve ever seen:

DHA photo via Hurriyet

… looks more like an Australian rules goal judge than a Romanized Egyptian goddess …

Head of Aphrodite from Antiochia ad Cragnum

From a UN-L press release:

Shoveling and sweeping to expose still-hidden portions of a 1,600-square-foot marble mosaic that dates to Roman times, a University of Nebraska-Lincoln archeological team this past summer unearthed a new treasure in southern Turkey.

Lying face down in more than a millennium of soil was a life-size marble head, the remnant of a sculpture of the goddess Aphrodite – still beautiful, though scarred by chips on its nose and face.

The sculpture’s body was missing, likely incinerated in a lime kiln many centuries ago.

By somehow escaping destruction, Aphrodite’s head provides yet another telling detail about how profoundly the region was affected by Greek and Roman culture during the first and second centuries, said project director Michael Hoff, Hixson-Lied professor of art history at UNL. Hoff returned to Nebraska in late August after spending nearly three months in Turkey.

The head, Hoff said, is the only piece of monumental sculpture recovered so far in an eight-year archeological dig at the site of Antiochia ad Cragnum (Antioch on the cliffs), an ancient Mediterranean city that once numbered perhaps 8,000 people.

Last year, Hoff’s team discovered a mosaic thought to be the largest of its type in the region. Archeologists believe it adorned an open-air plaza outside a soaring, 60-foot-high Roman bath house.

Aphrodite’s head was a highlight of a 2013 excavation that also uncovered the vestiges of what appears to be a temple, with a second marble mosaic covering its interior floor.

It is unusual to find a mosaic floor in a temple, Hoff said. His next step is to research other examples to learn more about how mosaics relate to temple architecture.

With assistance from Clark University in Worcester, Mass., and Ataturk University in Turkey, the project has excavated sites in a 200-square kilometer area where Antiochia was located. The project’s co-directors are Rhys Townsend, an art history professor at Clark University; Ece Erdogmus, a native of Turkey who is an architectural engineering professor at NU’s Peter Kiewit Institute in Omaha; and Birol Can, an associate professor of archeology at Ataturk University.

One of Erdogmus’ roles is to help reassemble the stones of another temple located not far from the site of the bathhouse.

The new discoveries add evidence that early residents of Antiochia – which was established at about the time of Emperor Nero in the middle of the first century and flourished during the height of the Roman Empire – adopted many of the trappings of Roman civilization, though they lived in relative isolation a thousand miles from Rome. In the past, scholars believed the region’s culture had been too insular to be heavily impacted by Rome.

Yet Hoff and his team have found many signs that contradict that belief.

“We have niches where statues once were. We just didn’t have any statues,” Hoff said. “Finally, we have the head of a statue. It suggests something of how mainstream these people were who were living here, how much they were a part of the overall Greek and Roman traditions.”

Before the city was founded, the region had been a haven for pirates, including the Cilician pirates who kidnapped Julius Caesar in about 75 B.C. Francis Beaufort, an officer in the British Royal Navy, identified Antiochia’s location in the early 19th century using a guide written by the ancient Roman geographer Ptolemy.

Time, and probably Christian vandals, erased much of the evidence of Antiochia. The bath’s vaulted ceilings may have collapsed in an earthquake. By the third century, Rome’s influence was disrupted by insurrections and rampaging armies. By the fourth century, the area was a key site in the development of Christianity – and Hoff suspects that radical Christians destroyed many of the marble statues and reliefs in an effort to eliminate pagan idolatry.

The archeological team has found evidence of lime kilns near the site, leading Hoff to believe many statues and marble panels were burned to make slaked lime used in concrete. It also appears that at about the same time, the sturdy floor created by the plaza mosaic was used as the base for a glass-blowing furnace.

The glass furnace dates to the late Roman period, which began in the middle of the fourth century, Hoff said. He is now convinced that the bath and temple and their mosaics date to the late second or early third century.

Only about half the plaza mosaic was excavated in 2012. The archeologists returned to the site this summer to excavate the its west half. Their efforts included clearing out a 50-foot long, marble-lined swimming pool in the center of the plaza. They found two stairways leading into the oval pool, as well as built-in benches along its inner sides.

The team turned its shovels toward a mound just south of the plaza, where toppled columns lay half-buried. Telltale signs in the layout make the archeologists believe the building had been a Roman temple, though that has yet to be confirmed.

“Everything about it is telling us it’s a temple, but we don’t have much in the way of to whom it was dedicated,” he said. “We’re still analyzing the finds. But the architecture suggests heavily that it was a temple.”

While the larger bath plaza mosaic features large patterned areas, the temple mosaic uses smaller tesserae to compose geometric designs, as well as images of fruit and floral images amidst a chain guilloche of interlocking circles. The temple mosaic measures about 600 square feet.

Though both mosaics are “spectacular,” the temple mosaic is definitely different from the much larger plaza mosaic, Hoff said.

“I don’t think they are connected,” he said.

The two mosaics likely were designed by different artists, with wealthy patrons of the region hiring itinerant contractors to construct the buildings for public use.

Conservators followed the archeological team to protect the mosaics from additional damage and to repair damaged areas with special mortar. Though the mosaics eventually will be prepared for public display, they now are covered with a conservation blanket and a thick layer of sand.

The rubble of the bath’s collapsed ceilings will be cleared during a future excavation season. Parts of the stone substructure of the bath’s walls have remained standing, their marble veneer long missing. Local lore was that treasure was buried at the site.

Hoff said the excavations have, indeed, yielded treasures – though perhaps not those anticipated by legend.

Some nice photos accompany the original article. There’s also this nice little video:

For some previous coverage of this dig:

Graecomuse also had a nice post this past June just prior to the digging, chock full of background and bibliography:

House of Mosaics in Tripolis

From Hurriyet:

Archaeologists working on the ancient city of Tripolis in the Aegean province of Denizli have uncovered a 1,600-year-old house complete with a rich set of mosaics.

“When we removed the earth, we saw that the structures underground had survived. They are in very good condition. We have found the agora and a columned gallery as well as stores. Unexpectedly, we found a house covered with mosaics. The house is fully covered with mosaics, and they were very well-protected. There is little damage to the mosaics,” Denizli Gov. Abdülkadir Demir recently told Anadolu Agency.

Five of Denizli’s 19 ancient cities are in a flat area of the province, including Tripolis, he said, adding that excavations had been continuing in the ancient city for 15 years.

“More than 50 percent of the excavations and restorations have been finished in the agora. The works will be finished by the end of the year and the closed bazaar area in the agora will be opened to tourism,” the governor said.

Different from others

Tripoli was different from other ancient cities in that historic structures had been buried, thereby protecting them from the elements over the intervening centuries.

The head of the Tripolis excavations, Pamukkale University Professor Bahadır Duman, said they were currently working on the agora.

“The house has seven or eight rooms, and its floor is covered with colorful mosaics with herbal and geometric designs. This is why we think that a wealthy family of Tripolis was living in this house. Although it was constructed in the fourth century A.D., the house was also used in the fifth century A.D. People living in this house were not ordinary people; they were very influential,” Duman said.

Archaeologists, however, have determined that human settlement in the area dates back to the third century B.C.

The archaeological excavations have been carried out for two years by Pamukkale University in Tripolis, which was located at the junction point of Phrygia, Karia and Lydia in the Hellenistic period. The city was surrounded with walls in the early Roman period.

In last year’s excavations, geo-radar work revealed a marketplace in good condition. One of the most important findings in 2013 was a church from the early Byzantine period in the sixth century. The soil in the church has been removed, and its roof will be covered with a wooden material as per the original before being opened to visitors

No photos of the mosaics there, alas, but I did track down a video, which works most of the time:

Roman Amphitheatre from Hatay

From Hurriyet:

Researchers and local officials are hailing the discovery of a Roman-era amphitheater in the southern province of Hatay’s Erzin district, noting that the finding could help transform the area into a center of tourism.

“There is an Ephesus-style ancient city here. It will be revealed and this place will become a center of tourism,” said Erzin District Gov. İskender Yönden. “We plan to turn this area into an open-air museum.”
The Roman amphitheater was found during works carried out on a hill. So far, researchers have revealed the facility’s seats, while work is ongoing to unearth the theater stage.

“When the works are done, the district will become a museum area,” Yönden said, adding that the ancient city located along the Erzin-Dörtyol highway was being gradually unearthed. “We already knew about the existence of an amphitheater here and now we are beginning to see it.” Yönden said the excavation area was located at the site of a great battle between Alexander the Great and Persian King Darius.

A somewhat puzzling photo accompanies the original article … Archaeology in Hatay is somewhat confusing to me as I can never be sure where, specifically, they find things. A couple years ago, e.g., they found a huge mosaic in the province (Huge Mosaic Found in Turkey) at a to-be hotel construction site and now we read of this amphitheatre. Is it in the same area?

Still Waiting for that Kizilburun Column to be Delivered …

Interesting item from Hurriyet which is an update of sorts:

 

A 10-meter column, which was ordered 2,200 years ago for the construction of a temple in one of the three most important oracle centers in antiquity, Klaros, but went down when the cargo ship sank in Çeşme Kızılburun, will finally be delivered to its address. The column was discovered in 1993 by researcher and writer Cemal Pulak, and removed in 2007 by six archaeologists under the coordination of the U.S-based Underwater Archaeology Institute. Research revealed that the column was carried for the Apollo Temple in Klaros, in İzmir’s Menderes district.

The head of the excavations in the ancient center, Professor Nurdan Şahin, said that a team from the Texas A&M University had carried out works to determine the place of the column and found out that it was the sixth column of the Apollo Temple in Klaros Oracle Center.

“For the first time in the world, the address of a sunken ship was found. Following the cleaning process, the plan was to display the column in Çeşme Museum but we said that it would be more truthful to display it in its original place, Klaros,” she said.

We first heard about this column back in 2009: Kizilburun Shipwreck