Busts of horses and griffins from ancient Phocaea will be exhibited in Izmir


Two horses and two griffin busts found among the 2,600-year-old ruins of the Temple of Athena in the ancient city of Phocaea will be displayed at the Izmir Archeology Museum once their restoration work is complete.

The ancient city of Phocaea, also known as Phokaia, was an ancient Ionian city on the eastern shores of the Aegean Sea. Dubbed the mother city of several Greek colonies, the city dates back to the Bronze Age. According to the Greek traveler and geographer Pausanias, Phocaea was founded by people from Teos and Erthrai, west of Izmir. According to the ancient writers Herodotus, Strabo and Nikolaos of Damascus, the Phokis people living in the Peloponnese peninsula in central Greece came to Anatolia and established Phocaea. The ancient city of Phocaea is today the modern city of Foça.

Two griffin busts found in the ancient city of Phocaea, Izmir, western Turkey, April 18, 2022. (AA)

Research and development works continue in Foça in the province of Izmir, which is included in the UNESCO World Heritage List with ancient cities like Ephesus and Bergama which have thousands of years of treasures. In the ancient city of Phocaea, busts of horses and griffins 1.3 meters or 1.4 meters (4.27 feet or 4.59 feet) high have been unearthed among the ruins of the Temple of Athena in 2000. Conservation and restoration work started last year by Izmir Archeology The museum of these busts is almost complete.

The sculptures, called “protome”, were made of tuff stone and used for wall decorations. The horse busts are believed to be dedicated to the goddess Athena, while the griffins – defined as mythological birds with the head of an eagle, the body of a lion and wings – may have been placed on the walls to “guard the temple” according to the belief of the time.

The sculptures will be exhibited at the city’s archeology museum this year after the restoration work is completed.

The director of the Archeology Museum in Izmir, Cengiz Topal, told Anadolu Agency (AA) that the Temple of Athena in the ancient city of Phocaea was located on a natural rock.


A horse bust found in the ancient city of Phocaea, Izmir, western Turkey, April 18, 2022. (AA)
A horse bust found in the ancient city of Phocaea, Izmir, western Turkey, April 18, 2022. (AA)

Noting that the temple area had previously been used as a worship area for the nature goddess Cybele, Topal said, “According to the data obtained during the excavations, we know that the temple space was a worship area related to the worship. of Cybele before. Then temples were built after the 6th century BC in the ancient city. The area was eventually used as the Temple of Athena in its final phase.

Explaining that the construction phase of the first temple in Foca is older than other temples in Ephesus, Topal continued, “The Temple of Athena is historically at the forefront, but there are not many finds and remains.This is because the modern settlement of Foça is located completely above the ancient city of Phocaea.

Topal also informed that the restoration of a griffin bust is nearing completion. “Once our experts have completed their restoration and conservation work on the artifacts, they will meet history buffs in our museum,” he added.

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