Despite our growing hunger, Ufuk, arranged for us to tour Aphrodisias, pushing back our lunch hour to 2pm. And with good reason.
There was a point where I could fry an egg on my head. And while I noticed most of us sweating profusely despite t-shirt and shorts, I also noticed that all the Turks were wearing jeans. There wasn’t a bare leg anywhere among the locals. Script arm tattoos also seemed to be popular among men. Panting like dogs we moved through the ruins quite quickly.
The region started as a prehistoric settlement, inhabited as far back as 5000 B.C. In the 1st century, under Roman Emperor Augustus, Aphrodisias was built to honour Aphrodite.
|Temple of Aphrodite|
Laid out on a grid plan, the city grew around the Temple of Aphrodite and occupied an area of one square kilometre. The population was thought to be approximately 15,000 people. Under Roman influence, its theatre, stadium, temple, baths and colonnaded squares were made of marble and surrounded by marble reliefs depicting both Greek and Roman subjects.
|Stadium that held 30,000|
Extensive excavation of Aphrodisias began in 1961 by Turkish hero Kenan Erim who, coincidently was raised and educated in Geneva, Switzerland. The story is that locals were selling artefacts from the site they found lying on the ground, not understanding that an entire ancient city existed underneath their land.
According to our tour guide who is also an archaeologist, there are so many ruins in Turkey, so much history, and so little funding it will take hundreds of years just to uncover sites like Hieropolis and Aphrodisias.