Ruins of Aphrodite Temple found in Urla
Surface survey studies are continuing in the Urla, Çeşme, and Seferihisar districts of İzmir under the direction of Elif Koparal, associate professor at Mimar Sinan Fine Arts University. Some 35 prehistoric settlements, 16 of which belong to the Late Neolithic period, have been discovered during the studies on an area of approximately 1,600 square kilometers, bearing traces of the Ionian civilization.
Around 460 settlements and landscape elements, including sacred areas, tumuli, paths, terraces, villages and farms used in ancient times, have been found in the region. Information about the economic and social relations of the people living in the region, whose history dates back to 6,000 B.C., was also obtained during the research.
Speaking to the state-run Anadolu Agency, Koparal said that the surveys in the area started in 2006. Stating that it is known that the peninsula is a Neolithic period settlement, Koparal said that thanks to this study, an important social and economic network emerged in the whole region.
Explaining that in the findings they obtained, they noticed that people settled at a certain distance from each other at that time, Koparal said, “During our surveys, we found the Temple of Aphrodite belonging to the fifth century B.C.”
Noting that the temple is an exciting find and that its ruins are very impressive, Koparal said: “It is a rural temple. Aphrodite was a very common cult at that time. The finds that we have indicate that there is the Temple of Aphrodite in this region. It is not common to find a temple during a surface survey. The area was not within reach by car. It can be reached with a one-and-a-half-hour walk from the alley.”
“We found a statue piece of a woman on the floor, and then a terracotta female head figure. From the findings, we understood that there must have been a cult area in the region. As we scanned the epigraphic publications, we understood that it was most likely the Temple of Aphrodite. There is also an inscription around the temple. It sets the border with the statement, ‘This is the sacred area,’” Koparal said, adding that they also revealed the temple plan by scanning through the soil.
Stating that they came across the first find about the temple in 2016, Koparal said that they announced this to the world with an article.
Stating that the figurine got damaged due to erosion and rain, Koparal said, “But what it tells us is very important.”
Pointing out that the surveys are quite arduous, Koparal said that it was very exciting to get findings and information from the past.
Koparal said they also obtained important information about tumuli where the graves of notable people of the society were located, and caves, which were almost entirely used as sacred areas.
He also emphasized that the biggest threats to historical sites were from treasure hunters and urbanization.
Efforts are being made with the local people to preserve the historical artifacts, Koparal said, adding that they also have guards to protect the artifacts against the treasure hunters in the region.