The city of Aphrodisias was founded in the 5th century BC and was built on top of a settlement from the Bronze Age. It developed as a Hellenistic city to reach its heydays under the Roman Empire, between the 1st century BC and the 4th century AD. Aphrodisias became known as Stavropolis in the 6th century AD and as the capital of Caria it was called Caria, which in turn became Geyre in Turkish. The ancient city disappeared after the 13th century when it was buried after repeated earthquakes.
After its first excavations in 1904, steady diggings were carried out from the 1960’s onward exposing a great part of Aphrodisias. The Temple of Aphrodite is still in good condition, thanks to the fact that it was converted to a Christian Basilica. Over the years, the Tetrapylon (200 AD), the entrance to the great temple, was re-erected; and the Bouleuterion (2nd-3rd century AD) as well as the Stadium that could receive as many as 30,000 spectators belong to the best-preserved examples in the eastern Mediterranean. As so often, the Baths of Hadrian have survived in pretty good condition together with a wonderful Sebasteion.
The main feature and a quite unique one, however, is the huge pool, which is set amidst a park. It is 30 meters long and 1.70 meters wide, with an overall depth of one meter. The park is the only one ever recovered from Roman times and stands out with its mixture of trees, architecture and water. This pool was a true statement to show the power of Aphrodisias, even if the city was not that big. Research has revealed many inscriptions and graffiti with religious motives and mind games which the people left around the pool as they met and socialized. A water channel ran around the pool to ensure the water circulation and thus to keep the pool clean. Palm trees stood inside this channel as well as around the pool itself. This special pool has been placed on the World Heritage List of the UNESCO, although the excavations will not be completed until next year.
Aphrodisias was known, above all as a center for the arts. Its School of Sculpture followed a style of its own and statues from the city’s workshops have been found all over the Roman world, from as far as Spain to modern Germany.[Picture of the Tetrapylon is from Wikipedia; the picture of the pool from the Hurriyet Daily News]