Goddess of love rises out of Thessaloniki metro excavation

Date:

Share post:

Idols, clay lamps and amphorae, drinking cups, perfume vases, jewelry and other utilitarian and decorative objects make up the 300,000 or so finds unearthed during excavation work for the Thessaloniki metro.

Goddess of love rises out of Thessaloniki metro excavation
Credit: Kathimerini

Most striking among them, however, are the pieces related to Aphrodite, testifying to the northern port city’s enduring bond with the goddess of love.

The most interesting of these are a marble sculpture and a mosaic depicting the goddess that were found during digging for the Aghia Sofia station. Dating to different periods, they are indicative of the fact that the goddess was worshipped in the what is now downtown Thessaloniki as recently as early Christian times.

Aphrodite is represented by a plethora of statues and idols in a variety of different ways, and this was particularly the case in Roman times, explained Polyxeni Adam-Veleni, an archaeologist and head of the Culture Ministry’s General Directorate of Antiquities and Cultural Heritage.

“A large number of statues depicting Aphrodite have been found in the city center, while several more came to light in the area around the Church of the Acheiropoietos. They are mostly related to the worship of Thermaia Aphrodite, who was associated with the element of water,” Adam-Veleni said at a recent conference on the finds discovered during metro excavations in Athens, Thessaloniki and Piraeus.




The 20-centimetre statue that was found among the remains of a 3rd century structure at the Aghia Sofia station is a variation of Aphrodite emerging from the sea that was so prevalent in Hellenistic years, the archaeologist said.

The mosaic is thought to date to the 4th century AD and was discovered in the ruins of what was obviously a large bath house. It depicts Aphrodite in a relaxed manner, reclining on a couch whose arm is decorated with an image of Medusa. Eros is seen behind her, depicted as a boy with short, curly dark hair.

The existence of such depictions in the 4th century AD indicates that “Thessaloniki served as a powerful bastion of the old religions until late antiquity,” said Adam-Veleni.

She added that the construction of a large Christian church like that of Acheiropoietos on top of a site where the ancient gods were worshipped – and one dedicated to the Virgin Mary at that – points to efforts to “purify” the location.

A selection of finds from the metro excavations are on display at the Thessaloniki Archaeological Museum.

Author: Giota Mirtsioti | Source: Kathimerini [April 19, 2019]

ADVERTISEMENT

spot_img

Related articles

Skeletons and Roman houses discovered in northeastern France

Since April, scientists from INRAP (Institut National de la Recherche archaeologique preventive) have been carrying out rescue excavations...

Unique grave of Roman-era warlord found in Czech Republic

A unique grave of a second century warlord has been found in the south-east Moravian town of Uhersky...

An unknown Palaiologian Church discovered at the Thessaloniki Acropolis

The Acropolis of Thessaloniki, one of the city's most iconic landmarks, has played a pivotal role in the...

New research traces the origins of trench fever

First observed among British Expeditionary Forces in 1915, trench fever sickened an estimated 500,000 soldiers during World War...

Excavation of Etruscan tomb in Corsica completed

In recent months, Inrap has conducted extensive excavations in Corsica, one of which led to the major discovery...

New evidence shows Harappan civilization not as peaceful as popularly thought

They lived in well-planned cities, made exquisite jewelry, and enjoyed the ancient world's best plumbing. But the people...

Ancient sea route discovered in Mersin

Underwater archaeological work carried out by Konya Selçuk University (SU) in the southern province of Mersin’s Silifke ...

Archaeopark in İzmir used as dumping ground

An archaeopark field in İzmir’s Altınpark neighbourhood (Western Turkey), which was designed by the Konak Municipality in 2000,...