Traces of Zeus Temple found in ‘Pompeii of Anatolia’
An excavation team was surprised when they discovered a temple in the ancient city of Priene in the western province of Aydın’s Söke district. The ancient city is called the “Pompeii of Anatolia” for its unique city plan and well-preserved structures.
Located on a 370-meter steep slope of Mount Samsun 15 kilometers away from the district, Priene was a harbor city at the time. Archaeological excavations in the city are headed by Uludağ University Professor İbrahim Hakan Mert with the contributions of the Culture and Tourism Ministry.
The ancient city, which offers visitors the opportunity to see a unique view of Söke Plain due to its height, stands out with its Temple of Athena, theater, Demeter Temple, agora, bouleuterion, upper gymnasium, lower gymnasium, Egyptian temple, Byzantine church and residential areas.
Speaking to state-run Anadolu Agency, Mert said that Priene was one of the most modern cities of the Hellenistic period, the streets crisscross in the city plan and that the remaining parcels were made on the basis of a certain mathematical formula. Due to its original city plan and well-preserved structures, Priene was likened to the ancient city of Pompeii in Italy.
Despite the fact that the ancient city had a population of 5,000, Mert said that it attracted attention of the important personalities of the period.
“For example, the Temple of Athena and its sanctuary were completed in the first phase with the help of Macedonian commander Alexander the Great. The final phase was completed with the help of the Roman Emperor Augustus,” he added.
Mert stated that they had discovered a new temple in excavations in the northern part of the Temple of Athena, and it made them very excited.
“It consists of a small temple, an altar in front of it and an area of honor monuments around it. We aim to determine the function of the structure and to date it. We are curious about the result. We look forward to seeing which god or goddess it belonged to. This will be an important result when we uncover it. There is a cult of Zeus here, but a temple of Zeus has not yet been found. This temple could be that. We will reveal this in our work and drillings. We are cleaning up right now. Later, we will conduct a drilling work in the sacred place called Naos in the building and evaluate it according to the findings in the bedrock,” said Mert.
He explained that the restoration work continued in the ancient city without adding any modern existing architectural elements as they aim to revive Priene.