Archaeologists Search for Traces of Ancient Temple of Athena in Turkey’s Manisa

Archaeologists have started excavation works in order to unearth the Temple of Athena in the ancient city of Aigai, in the Yuntdağı region of the province of Manisa, Turkey.

According to Hurriyet Daily News, the Temple of Athena, in the 2,800-year-old ancient city of Aigai, was found in a 19th-century excavation conducted by German archeologists.

Yusuf Sezgin, assistant professor of archeology at Manisa Celal Bayar University and director of the excavation works, spoke to Anadolu Agency. He said that this was the first time since 2004 that there was excavation work for the discovery of the temple, and they are trying to understand whether the temple was dedicated to Athena.

“It is not known whether there are Temples of Athena in all of the 12 cities built by the people of Aiol south of İzmir during ancient times,” Sezgin said. “On the other hand, Goddess Athena’s head was depicted on the coins from the Hellenistic-period in Aigai. In this respect, it can be deduced that she was one of the most important and protective goddesses of the city.”

Numerous artifacts, such as glasses and ceramics, had seen the light of day during the excavation. “However, we have a big problem. Since there is no archeological museum in Manisa, we have not had the chance to display the artifacts we had discovered. I hope that, God willing, we will be able to display the artifacts by building an archeological museum,” Sezgin told Anadolu Agency.

Aigai dates back to the 8th century B.C. and was one of the 12 Ionian cities mentioned by Herodotus. The city was a significant center of trade in the Hellenistic era.

Excavations have so far unearthed the city’s walls, a three-story agora, an assembly building, a stadium, a theater and the Temple of Demeter.

One recent finding in the ancient city, was a sarcophagus.  After the reuniting of its pieces, archaeologists believe that it probably belonged to the administrator of a school.