An inscription indicating the existence of the cult of Asklepios was found in the ancient city of Hadrianopolis in Paphlagonia (Greek: Ἁδριανούπολις ἐν Παφλαγονίᾳ). Located in southwestern Paphlagonia (Asia Minor), near the present-day Turkish Eskipazar district in the Black Sea region, the ancient city was inhabited at least from the 1st century BC to the 8th century AD. It was named after the Roman emperor Hadrian in the 2nd century AD. The city also bore the names of Kaisareia (Καισάρεια) and Proseilemmene.
The excavations, which started in 2003 under the guidance of Professor Ersin Çelikbaş from the Department of Archaeology of Karabuk University, have been going on throughout the year without interruption.
The inscription, which dates back to the 2nd century AD, reads: “[For] Noble Tyche//and Saviour Asklepios//Aelios Deiotaros” and was found on a limestone slab during the ongoing excavations in a square structure uncovered during last year’s excavation period.
Ersin Çelikbaş told Anadolu Agency that the inscription is very important for the archaeology of Hadrianopolis and the Black Sea since it points to the existence of the cult of Asklepios, the Greek god of medicine, in the ancient city.
In places where the culture of Asklepios exists, there are usually therapeutic facilities, i.e. hospitals of the ancient period,” he said.
Noting that similar structures have been found in the Greek cities of Allianoi and Pergamum, Çelikbaş explains: “We can say that for the first time the cult of Asklepios was found in the Black Sea. We have seen depictions of the god Asklepios on the coins minted by Hadrian’s City. We have seen the depiction of an adult with snakes on a memorial stele. We thought it was related to Asklepios, but the discovery of the inscription clearly reveals that there was indeed a cult of Asklepios in Hadrianopolis.”
“Usually, the cult of Asklepios is located around hot water springs”, adds Çelikbaş. “The main reason why the cult of Asklepios is located here is probably the existence of the Akkaya thermal springs located to the south. We can say that Hadrianopolis was one of the most important cult centres of the ancient period, especially during the Roman period.”