1800-year-old inscription pointing to the existence of ‘Asclepius’ found in Hadrianaupolis

1800-year-old inscription pointing to the existence of 'Asclepius' found in Hadrianaupolis

In the ancient city of Hadrianaupolis, which was used as a settlement in the Late Chalcolithic, Roman and Early Byzantine periods in the Eskipazar district of Karabük, an inscription indicating the existence of Asclepius was found. “Asclepius is the god of health in ancient times”

The excavations, initiated in 2003 under the chairmanship of Assoc. Prof. Ersin Çelikbaş, a lecturer in the Department of Archeology at the Faculty of Letters of Karabük University, continue for 12 months without interruption.

An inscription that states “Ailios Deiotaros presented to Asclepius the savior” was found on a piece of rock during the ongoing excavations in a square planned structure unearthed last year. Assoc. Dr. Çelikbaş told AA that the inscription is very important for the archeology of Hadrianaupolis and the Black Sea.

Çelikbaş said, “The inscription reads, ‘Ailios Deiotaros presented to Asclepius the savior.’ We had guessed the existence of Asclepius here, but with the emergence of the inscription, we have now clearly identified the existence of the Asclepius culture in Hadrianaupolis. Asklepios is the god of health in ancient times. In places where the Asclepius culture exists, there are usually hospitals of the ancient period.”

Statue of Asclepius. Photo: The Collector

Noting that the hospitals of the ancient period were seen in Bergama and Allianoi, Çelikbaş continued: “We can say that the culture of Asclepius was detected for the first time in the Black Sea. We saw the figures of the god Asklepios on the coins minted by Hadrianaupolis. The figures on the coins do not represent the cultural existence of a place one hundred percent. We saw patera and snakes on a votive column. We thought it was related to Asklepios, but the discovery of the inscription clearly revealed that there really was an Asclepian culture in Hadrianaupolis.”

We should also remind that there is Akkaya thermal spring within the borders of Hadrianaupolis. “Usually, the Asklepios are located around hot water springs. The fact that it is close to the Akkaya thermal spring is the biggest reason why the Asklepios culture is here. We can say that Hadrianaupolis was one of the most important cult centers of the ancient period, especially the Roman period.” Çelikbaş said.

The inscription belongs to the 2nd century AD. “This means the early imperial period. We can say that Hadrianaupolis was indeed an important Roman city and a cult center in the early imperial period.”

A close-up view of the inscription.

The ancient city was founded in the 1st century BC and was used as a settlement until the 8th century BC. It is famous for mosaics on the floors of churches, where biblical rivers (Geon, Phison, Tigris, and Euphrates) and many animals (elephant, panther, deer, and griffin (a mixed animal seen in art history)) are depicted. For this reason, the ancient city is called “Zeugma of the Black Sea”. You can find our more detailed old article about Hadrianaupolis here.