Interest in Aphrodisias has ebbed and flowed like the tide since 1961. Sometimes we await news of the ancient city with bated breath; other times we barely notice when it appears. We took the re-opening the newly refurbished Aphrodisias Museum on 2A October as an occasion for following up on the latest finds.
It’s September 1958. The then Prime Minister is going to open Turkey’s biggest dam, the Kemer. Getting wind of the event, Hayat (Life) magazine quickly dispatches photojournalist Ara Giiler to the nearby town of Aydin. Provided with a car and driver by the governor’s office, Giiler is stilt shooting when night falls. They lose their way, winding up in a coffeehouse in a remote mountain village. The locals are playing cards on top of a Roman column capital. As soon as it gets light the next morning,
Gtiler takes a look around the village, photographing the reliefs of figures on sarcophagi crushing, grapes and driving a pair around the Hippodrome. The village is Geyre. On his return to Istanbul he shows his pictures first to writer and culture doyen Sabahattin Eyuboglu, and then to Rustem Doyuran,Director of the Archaological Museum. No one is familiar with this place.
Guler has the idea of sending his photos to the Architectural Review. Not long afterwards a telegram arrives from the American journal, Horizon. Giiler returns to the village with the same driver. When the journal requests a very well known’ writer, Prof. PhD.. Kenan T. Erim is enlisted. And from that day forward, Erim never stops writing about Aphrodisias. Right up to his death…
This story is better known than the city itself. Dedicated to the goddess Aphrodite (Venus), and one of the chief archaeological sites of the Greek and Roman periods, it nevertheless lies off the beaten track. The excavations, which have been under way for years financed by the Geyre Foundation, culminate in new finds every autumn. But since they are stowed away, either in the Dig House or the Museum’s storage area, few people are aware of them.
A scene of countless invaluable ruins, Aphrodisias up to now has been only about one-quarter unearthed. Another hundred years will be needed for completion of the task. Drawing attention last year for the opening of the Sebasteion Sevgi Gonul Gallery, the city is opening the doors of its newly refurbished museum on 24 October. We viewed the pre-opening preparations and the finds waiting behind the blue door of the Dig House for Skylife readers.
Venus on the half shell
There are a large number of reliefs and sculptures depicting Aphrodite in this city, which is known for its Temple of Aphrodite and ceremonies enacted in her name. Aphrodite, aka Venus, on the Half Shell is one of them. Currently undergoing work in the Dig House preservation and restoration areas, this sculpture has not yet been exhibited despite having turned up in the original.
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