Figurines of Aphrodite from the Roman Empire discovered in Hippos

Posted: September 15, 2009 in Archaeology, History
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There have been new exciting ancient finds during the excavation at Sussita. The responsible Zinman Institute of Archaeology at the University of Haifa, headed by Prof. Arthur Segal and Dr. Michael Eisenberg are leading the excavations.

At the fourth century AD it is possible that a few people still believed and worshipped the goddess of love. The figurines appeared to be hidden on purpose. The figurines were discovered when archaeologists found a shop in the southeastern corner of the forum district of Sussita. That is the central area of the Roman city built in the second century BC. It was destroyed in an earthquake 749 AD. The Aphrodite figurines were complete and made by clay. They were 23 cm tall and represent a quite common model of Aphrodite known as Venus pudica “the modest Venus”. The name was giving because the statue was upright and she covered her private parts with the palm of her hand.

This was the tenth excavation at Sussita which is located at a mountaintop at an altitude of 350 m above Lake Kinneret and in the area of the Sussita National Park. There were also people from the Polish Academy of Sciences in Warsaw and from Concordia University of Minnesota USA. The project also had great support from the Israel Nature and Natural Parks Protection Authority.

But that was not all found during the excavation! The archaeologists also found a odeion a small, roofed reminding of a theater and it is the first of its kind in Israel. They were quite common within the Roman Empire and was used for poetry-reading and musical recitals. The average theater had about 4000 seats but the odeion had about 600 sitting places. In the 1960s the odeion served as a military post and the part of the city was still covered with 3 meter of layers. The odeion is a rectangular with a semi-circle at one end. The construction is of high quality and can be dated to 1st century BC or the first century AD.

A basilica that was used for public gatherings in rainy weather was also found. This is the second basilica discovered in Israel, the first one was the Roman basilica of Samaria. A conservation and restoration team that is working together with the archaeologists have restored one of the columns from the basilica. The Roman Empire had some great engineering skills which often shows in their buildings and monuments. Some they have learned from others some they invented.
The American excavation team excavated a living quarter dated to fourth century AD which gives some glimpses of everyday life in Sussita. All houses had a stone-paved courtyard and that makes it probable that the household activities were often taking place at the courtyard.

There is an abundance of public structures in the city which probably comes from the reign of Herod in the first century BC. The archaeologists have before thought that the waves of constructions primarily was in Jewish cities but the newly discovered buildings in Sussita are a good indication on that Herod also had great influence on pagan cities under his rule.

Read the full article here


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