Athena’s head unearthed in Laodicea
DENİZLİ – Doğan News Agency
DHA photoTwo statue heads buried 10 meters under the ground were brought to light in the ancient city of Laodicea, located in the western province of Denizli.
The heads of Athena, goddess of reason, crafts, arts and literature, and Janus, god of beginnings and transitions, were unearthed on Stadium Street and held under protection.
Excavations have been continuing in Denizli’s largest ancient city, which is home to one of the seven churches mentioned in the Bible, by Pamukkale University. Following a marble block of ancient water laws, unearthed last week, the ancient city this week offered the heads of Athena and double-faced Janus. It is hypothesized that the heads were buried by smugglers to be unearthed later.
The statues are thought to date 1,800 years back, to the 2nd century A.D.
The head of the excavations, Pamukkale University Archaeology Institute Director and head of Archaeology Department, Professor Celal Şimşek said agricultural activities in the region were halted in 2003 and excavations had started. He added that the head of sculptures were found close to the surface, proof that illegal excavations had been carried out before the legal excavations started.
“Before we started excavations, treasure hunters found the heads of statues 12 years ago, and reburied them. I think they were looking for a market to sell them. Then they were not able to come to this area again after we started [the excavations]. As a team, we are very pleased to find the sculptures.”
Stating that the most important finding of 2015 was Athena, also known as the weaver goddess, providing further testimony that Laodicea was a very significant textile center in the ancient ages, Şimşek said,
“Last year’s excavations unearthed weaving looms weights and 1,500-year-old woolen clothes. Now we uncovered dyeing materials used to give color to these artifacts. We see that the weaver goddess was, too, loved in the city and festivals were held for the sake of her. Athena’s head was made like a young girl. Its facial features are very detailed. It looks like it is alive.”
Şimşek said the pieces of sculptures proved the existence of dozens of other sculptures in the region.
“The sculptures were of governors and top officials who served the city in the ancient ages. The double-faced head of the Roman god Janus symbolizes the past and future. It also watched those who entered and left the city. One of the face is mature, other face is young,” Şimşek said, thus reflecting the characteristics of that time.
These exciting, current excavations in Denizli reveal thousands of years of the region’s traditions.