Acroterion with Temple of Zeus in the background
|Location||Çavdarhisar, Kütahya Province, Turkey|
Aizanoi (Ancient Greek: Αἰζανοί; Latin: Aezani) was an ancient city in western Anatolia. Located in what is now Çavdarhisar, Kütahya Province, Aizanoi is situated astride the River Penkalas, some 1,000 m (3,300 ft) above sea level. The city was an important political and economic centre in Roman times; surviving remains from the period include a well-preserved Temple of Zeus, unusual combined theatre-stadium complex, and macellum inscribed with the Price Edict of Diocletian. The city fell into decline in Late Antiquity. Later serving as a citadel, in 2012 the site was submitted for inscription on the UNESCO World Heritage List.
Settlement in the area is known from the Bronze Age. The city may have derived its name from Azan, one of three sons of Arcas and the nymph Erato, legendary ancestors of the Phrygians. During the Hellenistic period the city changed hands between the Kingdom of Pergamum and the Kingdom of Bithynia, before being bequeathed to Rome by the former in 133 BC. After becoming part of the province of Asia, the city continued to mint its own coins. Its monumental buildings date from the early Empire to the third century. Site of a bishopric under the early Byzantine Empire, after the seventh century the city fell into decline. Later, in Seljuk times, the temple hill was converted into a citadel (Turkish: hisar) by Çavdar Tatars, after which the recent settlement of Çavdarhisar is named. Aizanoi was rediscovered by European travellers in 1824. Survey work in the 1830s and 1840s was followed by systematic excavation conducted by the German Archaeological Institute from 1926, resumed in 1970, and still ongoing.
Ancient buildings and structures
Temple of Zeus
The Temple of Zeus, situated upon a hill, was the city's main sanctuary. Ceramic finds indicate local habitation from the first half of the third millennium BC. According to a recent reading of the architrave inscription, construction of the temple began under Domitian. Inscriptions document imperial assistance from Hadrian relating to the recovery of unpaid rents as well as the euergetism of Marcus Apuleius Eurykles. Later the Çavdar Tatars carved equestrian and battle scenes on the temple. The temple is pseudodipteral, with eight columns at the ends and fifteen along the sides (35 m × 53 m (115 ft × 174 ft)). It was damaged in a 1970 earthquake and has since been restored.
Theatre and stadium
Aizanoi's theatre-stadium are built adjacent to each other and this combined complex is said to be unique in the ancient world. Separating the two is the stage building. Construction began after 160 A.D. and was complete by the mid-third century. Inscriptions again attest to the benefaction of M. Apuleius Eurycles.
Two sets of thermae have been identified. The first, between the theatre-stadium and the temple, dates to the second half of the second century and includes a palaestra and marble furnishings. The second, in the north-east of the city, was built a century later; floor mosaics depict a satyr and maenad. Rebuilt a couple of centuries later, it served as the bishop's seat.
A circular macellum dating to the second half of the second century is located in the south. In the fourth century it was inscribed with a copy of the Price Edict of Diocletian, dating to 301, an attempt to limit inflation resulting from debasement of the coinage.
Colonnaded street and stoa
Recent excavations have revealed the existence of a stoa, or covered walkway, dating to ca. 400 AD, and colonnaded street. A Temple of Artemis, dating to the time of Claudius (41-54), was demolished to make way for the colonnaded street which ran for 450 m (1,480 ft) and led to the sanctuary of Meter Steunene.
Sanctuary of Meter Steunene
A deep tunnel inside a cave, now collapsed, was dedicated to Meter Steunene (an Anatolian Earth Mother goddess). Cult figurines made of clay have been found in excavations, along with two round pits apparently used for animal sacrifice.
The city's large necropolis includes examples of door-shaped Phrygian tombstones. Inscriptions give the names of deceased or donor; accompanying decoration includes, for the tombs of men, bulls, lions and eagles, and for those of women, baskets of wool and a mirror.
Museum of Kütahya
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- "Aizanoi Ancient City". UNESCO. Retrieved 16 May 2012.
- "Aizanoi". Çavdarhisar Kaymakamlığı. Retrieved 2012-03-31.
- "Aizanoi Ancient City". Go Turkey. Retrieved 2012-03-31.
- Kai Jes, Richard Posamentir, Michael Wörrle, Der Tempel des Zeus und seine Datierung, in Klaus Rheidt, ed. Aizanoi und Anatolien (von Zabern, 2010)
- Niewöhner, Philipp. Aizanoi and Anatolia 3. De Gruyter. pp. 239–253. doi:10.1515/9783110186437.239.
- Tabbernee, William (1997). Montanist inscriptions and testimonia: epigraphic sources illustrating the history of Montanism. Mercer University Press. p. 722.
- Freely, John (1991). Classical Turkey. Penguin Books. p. 138. ISBN 9780140118537.
- Rohn, Corinna. The Theater-Stadium-Complex in Aizanoi (in German). Publikationsserver der BTU Cottbus-Universitätsbibliothek. Retrieved 2012-04-01.
|Wikivoyage has a travel guide for Çavdarhisar.|