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City gate at Aphrodisias, Turkey

The temple of Aphrodite in Aphrodisias, built in stages in the late 1st century BCE and early 1st century CE over a third century BCE shrine, included a 10 foot statue of Aphrodite. The temple provided an impressive home for the cult of the divine ancestry of the Julio-Claudian dynasty, Aphrodite. In the 2nd century CE, possibly during Hadrian’s reign, the temple was enclosed within an elaborate sanctuary structure. At the end of the 5th or in the early 6th century CE, the temple was converted for use as the city’s cathedral. The Tetrapylon, consisting of four groups of four columns, is the temple of Aphrodite’s ornamental gate constructed in the middle of the 2nd century CE. Above the second and third columns is a semicircular lintel with relief figures of Nike and Erotes among acanthus leaves. See www.nyu.edu/projects/aphrodisias/taph.htm, www.sitesandphotos.com/catalog/parent-147239.html, and www.turizm.net/cities/aphrodisias/.

Aphrodisias, known by that name by the 2nd century BCE but settled since the 6th millennium BCE, may have been the home of a shrine to Ishtar-Astarte (or Nin), the Akkadian goddess of love, followed by Cybele, and finally Aphrodite. The sebasteion, dedicated in the 1st century CE to “Aphrodite, the divine Augustus, and the people,” venerated the Julio-Claudian emperors, who claimed descent from Venus/Aphrodite. Scenes of Rome conquering various peoples of the world decorate the 2nd story. See McDonagh, Turkey, Blue Guide, 3rd ed., 262-63; and www.nyu.edu/projects/aphrodisias/seb.htm.

Aphrodisias sebasteion relief of Tiberius with a barbarian captive: The sebasteion, dedicated in the 1st century CE to “Aphrodite, the divine Augustus, and the people,” venerated the Julio-Claudian emperors, who claimed descent from Venus/Aphrodite. The 2nd story is decorated with scenes of Rome conquering various peoples of the world. See McDonagh, Turkey, Blue Guide, 3rd ed., 262-63.

Aphrodisias, known by that name by the 2nd century BCE but settled since the 6th millennium BCE, may have been the home of a shrine to Ishtar-Astarte (or Nin), the Akkadian goddess of love, followed by Cybele, and finally Aphrodite. The sebasteion, dedicated in the 1st century CE to “Aphrodite, the divine Augustus, and the people,” venerated the Julio-Claudian emperors, who claimed descent from Venus/Aphrodite. Scenes of Rome conquering various peoples of the world decorate the 2nd story. See McDonagh, Turkey, Blue Guide, 3rd ed., 262-63; and www.nyu.edu/projects/aphrodisias/seb.htm.

This 10-foot statue in the Aphrodisias museum portrays Aphrodite in a stiff, hieratic stance closely resembling the Artemis of Ephesus. On her long garment are reliefs of the Three Graces with Aphrodite in the middle and flanked by Zeus and Hera, Selene (Moon) and Helios (Sun) goddesses, Aphrodite riding a she-goat with the tail of a fish, and three Erotes, two offering libation at an altar and a third holding a torch facing down to the underworld. Compare www.turizm.net/cities/aphrodisias/.

The Greco-Roman stadium in Aphrodisias is one of the best-preserved of its kind in Asia Minor. Constructed in the 1st or 2nd century CE, it seated about 30,000. The emperor approved games to be held here on the model of Delphi’s Parthian Games. In addition to hosting athletic competitions, it was a venue for competitions in music, productions of tragedies and comedies, and oratory. Alterations were made in the 7th century CE to accommodate “circus performances” involving wild animals and gladiators, as well as the incorporation of the stadium in the defensive wall. See McDonagh, Turkey, Blue Guide, 3rd ed., 272.

Aphrodisias sebasteion relief of the Roman people crowning the conquering Emperor: The sebasteion, dedicated in the 1st century CE to “Aphrodite, the divine Augustus, and the people,” venerated the Julio-Claudian emperors, who claimed descent from Venus/Aphrodite. The 2nd story is decorated with scenes of Rome conquering various peoples of the world. See McDonagh, Turkey, Blue Guide, 3rd ed., 262-63.

Aphrodisias sebasteion relief of Roman emperors victorious over Armenia & Britannia: The Greek inscription on the base reads “Neike Sebaston,” which is translated “victory of sebastoi” (“sebastoi” are venerated, revered, august ones, a title given to Roman emperors). The sebasteion, dedicated in the 1st century CE to “Aphrodite, the divine Augustus, and the people,” venerated the Julio-Claudian emperors, who claimed descent from Venus/Aphrodite. The 2nd story is decorated with scenes of Rome conquering various peoples of the world. See McDonagh, Turkey, Blue Guide, 3rd ed., 262-63.

Aphrodisias sebasteion relief of Nero conquering Armenia: The sebasteion, dedicated in the 1st century CE to “Aphrodite, the divine Augustus, and the people,” venerated the Julio-Claudian emperors, who claimed descent from Venus/Aphrodite. The 2nd story is decorated with scenes of Rome conquering various peoples of the world. See McDonagh, Turkey, Blue Guide, 3rd ed., 262-63.

Aphrodisias sebasteion relief of Claudius conquering Britannia: The sebasteion, dedicated in the 1st century CE to “Aphrodite, the divine Augustus, and the people,” venerated the Julio-Claudian emperors, who claimed descent from Venus/Aphrodite. The 2nd story is decorated with scenes of Rome conquering various peoples of the world. See McDonagh, Turkey, Blue Guide, 3rd ed., 262-63.

This house, with its peristyle atrium in the foreground, which led into a grand private audience with three apses, and a small bathroom with a latrine, was originally an aristocratic house of an official of Aphrodisias by the 3rd century CE. In the Byzantine period, it became the bishop’s “palace.” See McDonagh, Turkey, Blue Guide, 3rd ed., 270.

Aphrodisias sebasteion relief of Rome overseeing earth’s abundance: The Greek inscription on the base reads “ROMH GH,” which is translated “Rome • Earth.” The sebasteion, dedicated in the 1st century CE to “Aphrodite, the divine Augustus, and the people,” venerated the Julio-Claudian emperors, who claimed descent from Venus/Aphrodite. The 2nd story is decorated with scenes of Rome conquering various peoples of the world. See McDonagh, Turkey, Blue Guide, 3rd ed., 262-63.

This sculpted head in the Aphrodisias Museum is that of L. Antonius Dometinos Diogenes, Aphrodite’s priest in the 2nd to early 3rd century CE.

A statue of a hero, part of the baths of Hadrian in Aphrodisias, is a demonstration of power.

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