The discovery of an ancient statue of Hygieia was announced last month. The headless statue is about the size of a full grown person and was discovered in the site of Aizanoi, currently located in western Turkey and dating back to 5000 years ago. This is not the first statue of Hygieia found in this site, which leads the workers involved to believe there was a health cult of sorts in the area when it was made.
“We unearthed a statue of Hygieia, known as the goddess of health and cleanliness, the daughter of Asclepius, the god of health in Greek and Roman mythology.”
Gökhan Coşkun, excavation coordinator
Excavations have been ongoing for a decade, ever since Turkish archeologist began their activity in 2011. A year after that, in 2012, the site was added to the UNESCO World Heritage Tentative List. This summer (2021), the Kutahya Museum Directorate was put in charge of the dig and featured 100 workers and 25 technicians on the site.
This site contains one of the best-preserved temples of Zeus currently known in Anatolia.
Aizanoi reportedly flourished in the C2nd-3rd CE, some 2100-2200 years ago. It was rediscovered in 1824 by European travelers.
A gymnasium, a theatre, a stadium, a trading center, five bridges, two public baths, a necropolis, and the sacred cave of Metre Steune were all unearthed by the German Archeology Institute between 1970 and 2011.
The snake was held as a symbol of medicine by the ancient Greeks, a trend still seen today in the rod of Asclepius. It’s no surprise then to hear that many of the statue of Hygieia depict her holding a snake, such as the statue announced in this article.
The Greek health cult is estimated to have existed in Athens for about a millennium between the C5th BCE and the C5th CE.
Check out some other finds from last month here.
 – Kutahya. “Statue of Greek health goddess Hygieia unearthed”. https://www.hurriyetdailynews.com/statue-of-greek-health-goddess-hygieia-unearthed-167210. Accessed 2 Sept. 2021.
 – Davis-Marks, Isis. “Turkish Archaeologists Unearth Headless Statue of Greek Health Goddess” (2 Sept. 2021). https://www.smithsonianmag.com/smart-news/archaeologists-unearth-headless-statue-grecian-health-goddess-western-turkey-180978555/. Accessed 2 Sept. 2021.
It may or may not be relevant but the site has been on the World Heritage Tentative List for a mighty long time and a new director has just been appointed. A 2000 BC date puts it comfortably ahead of anything the Greeks can claim. President Erdogan couldn’t ask for anything better. Looks awfully modern to me.
Is 9 years a mighty long time? What looks modern about it to you?
It means it’s been rejected nine times, so I guess so. The score for sites themselves is currently Turkey 19, Greece 18 and this is a very political business. As for age, I always apply the Portobello Test. Would I notice it if it was on a market stall? The ancients sure do have contemporary tastes. Unless it’s the other way round.