Goddess Aphrodite statue unearthed in Turkey

Last Updated 23 September 2013, 13:20 IST

A life-sized marble head of Aphrodite - the goddess of love and beauty in Greek mythology - has been unearthed during excavations in Southern Turkey.

Archaeologists made the finding while uncovering an ancient pool-side mosaic at Antiochia ad Cragum (Antioch on the cliffs) on the Mediterranean coast.

Buried under soil for hundreds of years, the statue has some chipping on her nose and face, 'LiveScience' reported.

Researchers think her presence could shed light on the extent of the Roman Empire's wide cultural influence at the time of its peak.

The excavators had been looking for more parts of the largest Roman mosaic ever found in Turkey: a 150 square meters marble floor elaborately decorated with geometric designs, adorning a plaza outside a Roman bath.

During fresh excavations, they found the statue head lying face-down. The researchers think the marble head was likely long separated from its body; traces of lime kilns have been found near the site, suggesting many statues and hunks of stone would have been burned to be reused in concrete.

The presence of an Aphrodite sculpture suggests Greek and Roman influence had become mainstream in far-flung cities like Antiochia ad Cragum in the first and second centuries AD, the excavation's director Michael Hoff said.

Aphrodite's head is the first fragment of a monumental statue to be found at Antiochia ad Cragum over eight years of digging, Hoff, an art historian at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, said.

"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," said Hoff.

The researchers also found other traces of Roman influence, such as a second mosaic adorning a building that looks like it might be a temple.

(Published 23 September 2013, 13:20 IST)

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