The Turkish city of Denizli is a popular area for historical digs. Since the 19th century, archaeologists have been digging in the area. The region was once home to the ancient city of Laodicea, which was part of the Roman province Phrygia. This is one of the main reasons that people are digging there. Archaeologists in Turkey uncovered this incredible statue of a fearsome emperor under a fountain.
Although archaeologists have been studying this area since the 19th century, more structured investigations started taking place there in 2002, and have continued ever since. Experts have been drawing maps to mark the locations where they found items of great significance.
The 2019 Find
While everything found in the area has some significance, the most significant find occurred in 2019. The experts who made the discovery were part of the Excavation Committee of the Ancient City of Laodicea. Celal Simsek led the group from Denizli’s Pamukkale University. To understand how important this discovery truly is, you need to understand a bit about the Roman Empire.
The City of Laodicea
This city first emerged as an ancient Greek town, and it was called Diospolis, which translated to the City of Zeus. Later, it became known as Rhodes. In the 3rd century B.C., Seleucus Antiochus II established a city in the area, and named it Laodice, after his spouse. At first, the area wasn’t significant. By 188 B.C., it became part of the Kingdom of Pergamon. By 133 B.C., it was controlled by the Romans.
Between 88 B.C. And 63 B.C., the Roman Republic was engaged in the Mithridatic Wars. These were three armed conflicts where Rome battled the Kingdom of Pontus. The city almost fell, but fortunately, it held on. The wealth of the city was due to its geographical position as a trading post on the way to Asia. When the Roman Republic reached its end, and the Roman Empire first emerged, the city took advantage. It became a center for economic activity and brought in plenty of money and goods.
Although the Asia connection was an advantage, there was a geographical disadvantage as well. The area was prone to earthquakes, and in 60 A.D., a significant earthquake wiped out the center of the city. Those who lived there insisted on rebuilding even though they couldn’t get help from the Empire. The city was rebuilt, and it was even better than before. The distinguished residents paid for the construction of the temples, the theaters, and other community facilities. Soon, Rome allowed the city to be a free city, which meant that it could handle its own affairs. The city was again ruined by Turkish and Mongol assaults during the Middle Ages.
Over the years, Laodicea had its share of leaders. The most important was Emperor Trajan, who was in control from 98 to 117 A.D. During his reign a number of monuments were constructed in his honor. This is because he earned the title, Optimus princeps, which meant “best ruler.” In 117 A.D. He was stricken by illness while on a ship. He died on August 8 of that year, at the age of 63.
In 2019, when Celal Simsek and his colleagues discovered a statue of Emperor Trajan, many people weren’t surprised. It wasn’t until the sheer scale of the statue was announced that the find earned great respect. As pieces of the figure were found underneath an age-old fountain, they started putting the pieces together to reconstruct it. The finished sculpture measured close to 10-feet tall.
An Imposing Sculpture
The imposing sculpture of Trajan has him in his military attire. He is covered in protective armor, with a robe fastened to his left shoulder, and is gathered around one of his arms. He is also wearing a chiton, which is a traditional kilt, often worn by the Scottish. Beside Trajan is the likeness of an adversary, recoiling with his hands tied behind his back. The detail is so incredible that you can make out the etching on the armor. According to the team, on the upper part of his armor, you can clearly see the thunder of Jupiter, the celestial god of thunder. The experts were shocked by the excellent condition of the statute. It was an incredible find.
An Amazing Archaeological Find
Considering how often this site has been excavated, archaeologists are surprised that it took this long to find this incredible statue. This has brought a lot more attention to the area. Archaeologists from all around the world have been planning digs in the area, expecting to uncover more incredible relics. According to Celal Simsek and his team, there could be more buried beneath the ground that can give us more information about the Roman Empire than we currently know.