Pieces of cult statues removed from Claros
During the ongoing excavation works in Claros, located in İzmir and considered as the oldest oracle center in the world, some pieces of monumental statues of Apollo, Artemis and Leto have come to light.
The pieces have been moved to an area where conservation works will be carried out.
Conservation and restoration works continue on the monumental cult statues of Apollo, Artemis and Leto in Claros, which was discovered in 1907 in the Menderes district of İzmir and is known to be the oldest oracle center of antiquity.
Within the scope of the works, 35 pieces of cult statues, weighing between 100 kilograms and 9.5 tons, were taken from their existing places and moved to the area where they will not be affected by floods and where conservation works will be carried out.
Onur Zunal, an academic from Ege University’s Archaeology Department and the scientific adviser to Claros excavations, said: “Before the move, the sculptures were laser scanned and documented with all the details on site. A permanent roof project has been prepared for the conservation work to be carried out properly and the sculptures to be exhibited on site and preparations have been completed to submit to the authorized units for the necessary approvals. We aim to implement this roof project as the first activity of 2022.”
Stating that the works on the sculptures in 2021 were carried out under the support of the İzmir Metropolitan Municipality and Selçuk Ephesus Museum, Zunal said, “Claros is one of the rare sanctuaries where cult statues have been preserved in an ancient temple. The sculptures here also show us that there was a triad cult. Although only the feet and legs of the statue of Apollo were preserved, it was depicted in a sitting position. Standing on either side of him are his mother Leto and his twin sister Artemis. The original height of each of these marble statues was approximately seven meters and their total weight was approximately 25 tons.”
Zunal said that they plan to complete the project within five years if the necessary financial support is found and that the works, which will be exhibited on site with information boards in the area, will be very important for the tourism of İzmir and Menderes region.
Stating that Claros is one of the most important sanctuaries not only for Western Anatolia or Ionia but also for the ancient world, Zunal said: “The Temple of Apollo, which is approximately 45 meters long and 26 meters wide, is the only Doric temple built in Ionia during the Hellenistic period. The steps and column pedestals of the temple are covered with inscriptions. These inscriptions are about the city delegations that came to Claros, how many people they were and the purpose of their visit.”
Stating that the ancient Greek temples were known as the houses of the gods, Zunal said: “There were human-looking and large-sized statues of gods or goddesses in the temples. People could not enter these structures to worship, unlike today’s monotheistic religions. Worship rituals were performed on the altars right next to the temples. We know that various votive items such as ceramics, figurines and precious metal utensils were presented to gods, especially where bloody animals were sacrificed"