Eye cream jar among items in ancient tomb found in Turkey’s west

Eye cream jar among items in ancient tomb found in Turkey’s west

KÜTAHYA – Anadolu Agency

Turkish archeologists have found an eye cream jar in a 2,200-year-old tomb during their excavation works in the ancient city of Aizanoi

Located in the western Turkish province of Kütahya’s Çavdarhisar district, Aizanoi was added to the UNESCO World Heritage Tentative List in 2012. The ancient city is also hosting the Temple of Zeus, the main sanctuary of Aizanoi

The chief of the excavation works in Aizanoi, Professor Elif Özer, told state-run Anadolu Agency that excavations had been carried out by German archaeologists in the past but Turks were handed over the works in 2011. 

She said they had important findings about funerary practices during their works in the ancient city’s “Necropolis” (cemetery). 

Özer said they were digging the ancient city to find out the funerary practice of people living in Aizanoi during ancient times.

“We have so far found some 150 tombs here and understood that people living in the 2nd and 1st century B.C. in Aizanoi were buried after getting cremated with juniper and oak trees. These tombs are nearly 2,200 years old,” she said, adding that this burial tradition ended sometime later and the dead were buried without cremation. 

She said they had found very unique artifacts in the tombs, adding, “We found out that some findings were not unique to this region. Similar examples can be seen in the ancient ages in Macedonia. A Heracles statue was found in one of the tombs. There were also spears, arrow heads and ashes inside and around the tomb. We were not able to define the gender because there were no teeth. But we can say that it was the tomb of a male and he was a soldier. According to inscriptions, he was a Macedonian-origin man.” 

Özer stated that they also found an eye cream jar named “lykio” in a tomb. The eye cream was used for “Xerophthalmia” (eye dryness).

“We know this jar was used for keeping eye cream in Ancient Rome era,” she said, adding that the raw plant which was used for therapeutic purpose for eye dryness until the end of 18th century could be found in Lycia in the southern coast of Turkey and India. 

“When we read the texts of the writers from the ancient times, we can determine that this jar was used by soldiers,” Özer said. 

“Ancient sources say that Roman soldiers in Egypt used eye cream for eye dryness. We found this jar in a male’s tomb believed to be a soldier,” she added. 

According to a belief in the ancient times, life continues after death, Özer said, adding that perhaps the relatives of this deceased put this jar into his grave considering he might need it after death. She said the jar is now displayed at the Kütahya Archaeology Museum. 

She said another finding was a Roman bath. “We completed the bath excavations that German archaeologists left unfinished. We saw that the baths in this era are like the ones in today’s baths. The bath served until the 4th century A.D.,” Özer said. 

A total of 55 people, including archaeology students, academics and workers are contributing in the excavation works, she added.