A 1,700-year-old statue of Greek god Pan unearthed in Istanbul

The statue was unearthed during the excavation works near the Saint Polyeuktos Church from the Roman Era.
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1,700-year-old Pan Statue
1,700-year-old Pan Statue

Mahir Polat/Twitter 

In a recent excavation in Istanbul's Saraçhane Archaeological Park, archaeologists discovered a remarkable artifact, a pagan statue of the Greek god Pan, believed to be approximately 1,700 years old. 

The unearthed statue, measuring 20 centimeters in height and 18 centimeters in width, is thought to belong to the period of the Roman Empire. The statue, found 260 centimeters below the ground, was missing its left arm and lower body parts. 

A 1,700-year-old statue of Greek god Pan unearthed in Istanbul
Pan statue from sides

Who was Pan?

The statue represents Pan, a prominent figure in Greek mythology. Pan was venerated as the god of the countryside, shepherds, and satyrs. Notably, he possessed a distinctive appearance, depicted as a half-goat and half-human creature. This portrayal instilled a sense of fear and trepidation among the populace.

The word "panic" itself finds its etymology in the name of the Greek god Pan as his sudden appearance in the countryside caused people to flee in alarm. Pan was known for his habit of shouting angrily during his slumber. His sudden outbursts would incite panic among those nearby, prompting them to flee in fear. However, Pan was not solely associated with frightening aspects; he was also depicted as a joyful figure who roamed the countryside while playing his flute.

The Istanbul Archaeology Museums Directorate has taken custody of the statue, placing it in their storage warehouse, where it will await further investigation.

Where the statue was found

The ruins belong to the sixth-century Church of Saint Polyeuktos, which once stood as one of Constantinople's most significant structures before the city's conquest by the Ottoman Turks in 1453. The Church of Saint Polyeuktos, built between 524 and 527 A.D., was commissioned by Princess Anicia Juliana of the Eastern Roman Empire to show power against Emperor Justinian, who succeeded her and his non-dynastic wife, Theodora. The church boasted significant decorations and architectural structures.

Detailed examinations will be conducted to determine the exact period to which the statue belongs. It has been transferred to the storage facilities of the Archaeology Museums Directorate for safekeeping, awaiting further analysis.

Interestingly, this discovery is not the first in the vicinity of the Church of Saint Polyeuktos. During previous excavations, a 1,900-year-old Roman statue and a 1,500-year-old underground passageway adorned with marble-shaped building stones and relief decorations were uncovered. These findings contribute to the rich historical tapestry of the area.

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