Theater of ancient Metropolis crowned with reproduction of griffin seat
KIVANÇ DÜNDAR - İZMİR
The city’s nobles and dignitaries once watched the events at the ancient city’s theater from this seat that was bejeweled with griffins.
Centuries later, a sculptor artist reproduced the seat with the griffin after months of hard work and the replica was installed in its original place in the theater with a ceremony on Oct. 23.
The Sabancı Foundation, which has been supporting the excavations of Metropolis since 2003, has also sponsored this particular project.
An extraordinary discovery
Ancient Metropolis, also known as the city of the Mother Goddess, is located between the neighborhoods of Yeniköy and Özbey overlooking the vast plains of the Torbalı district of the western province of İzmir.
The history of the city dates back to the classical age and has continued with the Hellenistic age, the Roman and Byzantine eras, the Beylics era and the Ottoman era.
It developed into a planned-city at around the third and second centuries B.C. The city, which was located on major trade routes and whose economy was based on agriculture, continued to flourish during the Roman era.
The objects unearthed through the excavations that commenced in 1989 shed light on life in the ancient city.
One of the most unique pieces discovered in the ancient city is the seat of honor with the griffin that was found in 1995.
The griffin is a legendary creature with the body of a lion and the head and wings of an eagle.
According to Prof. Serdar Aybek from the Manisa Celal Bayar University archeology department, who has been leading the excavations in Metropolis, the two sides of the griffin were carved in the form of the body of a panther and the head and wings of an eagle.
“This is a very unique piece from its era. I was lucky to witness its discovery when I was an undergraduate student at the archeology department back in 1995. When we first found it, we could not really make any sense of it. Indeed, there were other seats in the theater but this one was different. It had some extraordinary features,” Aybek said during the ceremony.
“It was not like a seat but rather looked like a piece of art or a sculpture. When we fully unearthed it, we realized that it was a rare piece from the Hellenistic era,” he added.
The original seat of honor with griffins is displayed at the İzmir Archeological Museum.
“Visitors wanted to see the seat in its original place, in the theater. That is how we came up with the idea of producing a replica of the seat. And we presented this project to the Sabanci Foundation” Aybek said.
Sinan İlhan, the sculptor, said he worked six to eight months to produce the replica of the seat.
He carved the seat, which looks exactly like its original, out of 1.5 tons of marble block. The seat now weighs between 800-850 kilograms.
“This was the land where women were honored and respected,” said Nevgül Bilsel Safkan, the general manager of the Sabancı Foundation.
“From now on, we will welcome visitors in the Metropolis with the griffin seat. We believe it is important to preserve the findings and help people see those artifacts. More than 11,000 pieces unearthed here are exhibited in museums. I am very happy the seat has returned to Metropolis, as it helps the ancient city gain recognition in the local and international arena,” Safkan said.