Hestia statue to be displayed in museum

Hestia statue to be displayed in museum

Hestia statue to be displayed in museum

Excavations have been ongoing in the ancient city of Aigai in the western province of Manisa. A 2.7-meter-high statue, which was unearthed in 2004-05 and is the only Hestia statue in the world that has survived from the Hellenistic period, will be exhibited at the Manisa Archeology Museum, which is set to be opened this year.

Aigai, located near the Yunt Mountain Köseler neighborhood of the Yunusemre district, stands out as the only excavation site in the region, called Aiolis in ancient times, from the north of İzmir to Çanakkale.

The excavations in Aigai, which was founded in 700 B.C. and continued for about 1,000 years, have been continuing uninterruptedly for 19 years. The works are carried out in the temple area built for Athena, believed to be the goddess of wisdom and intelligence in ancient times.

The bronze goddess Hestia statue, which was found in 2004-05, is among the most valuable finds in the ancient city. The statue, which was found during the excavations of the parliament building in Aigai, is known as the only Hestia statue in the world that has survived from the Hellenistic era.

The head of the excavations, Associate Professor Yusuf Sezgin said, “Currently, work is carried out in the Sanctuary of Athena. In ancient times, cities had certain gods or goddesses. Athena is the goddess of wisdom and intelligence. Obviously, the most important goddess in Aigai was Athena. Because a temple was built at the highest point of the city, in its most magnificent place. We started work here in 2019. The area was covered with brushwood and rubble. After some work it began to surface gradually.”

Stating that the temple was built in the second century B.C. and it is a very important temple, Sezgin said, “This is actually a sacred area. After the city was abandoned, the Byzantines settled here in the 16th century and the structures were severely damaged because these temples had no value and importance for them. Since the temples were made of marble, all the marble pieces were crushed and turned into lime. The limes needed for the Byzantine church in the region were obtained from ancient buildings. In the section where the excavations continue, there are Byzantine sites. We document it first and then excavate it. Then we reach the original layers.”

Reminding that the first excavations in Aigai started in 2004, Sezgin continued as follows: “Excavations are very long-term projects and it is necessary to work very slowly. In the 19th year of the excavation, perhaps only one percent of the city has been excavated so far. Aigai was a city-state in ancient times. There were all the public structures. There is the Agora building, the parliament building, schools, theater and stadium. For this reason, works will continue for many years. One of the main goals of this project since 2004 was to reveal the tourism potential of this place. First, we tried to uncover the ancient roads. When people come to the city, they walk on the same roads that people walked 2,000 years ago.”

No other example in the world

Noting that they continued to excavate the parliament building from 2004 to 2011. “One of the most important parliament buildings in Western Anatolia came to surface. This is a very special building with its finds. Very special statues and inscriptions were found. There will be very important sculptures that you will not see in many world museums. For example, a statue of the goddess Hestia was found during the excavations. There is no other example in the world. Because most of the statues of Hestia in ancient times were made of bronze and they were melted over time. Because the statue of Hestia we found was made of marble, it remained in the wreckage of the parliament, and we found it in different parts during the excavations in 2004-05. There is no statue of Hestia from the Hellenistic Period anywhere in the world. Restoration of these statues, including Hestia, will begin soon and will be exhibited at the Manisa Archeology Museum,” Sezgin said.

Stating that they lived an uninterrupted life in Aigai for 1,000 years, Sezgin said, “After all, people must be buried when they die. Since the land is volcanic and rocky, they did not have a chance to build the tombs on top of each other. So they had to scatter across the land. We call these cemetery areas ‘Necropolis.’ We have so far documented 3,500 graves on the surface. The number of graves under the ground are more.”

Turkey, Türkiye, archeological,