Aphrodisias, located in south-western Turkey, in Caria, is one of the best-preserved Greco-Roman cities in Turkey and the Roman Empire. It was famous in antiquity for its cult sanctuary dedicated to the goddess Aphrodite. The city was founded in the early second century BC and flourished from the period of Augustus until Late Antiquity, eventually becoming a capital of the province of Caria and a seat of a bishop in AD 300. Marble quarrying was an important industry to Aphrodisias, resulting in the spectacular programme of urban development in the first and second centuries AD (Ratté 2002). Since 1961, archaeological works in Aphrodisias have been conducted by the New York University, and later in conjunction with Oxford University.

From the first half of the 20th century, the city was considered an important centre for sculptural production and the locus of a so-called ‘school of sculpture’ (e.g. Floriani Squarciapino 1943; 1991; Bergmann 1999), with itinerant masters active both at home and across the Roman world; several signatures of Aphrodisian craftsmen have been discovered abroad, including Rome, and other cities of Italy, as well as Greece, and North Africa. Therefore, one of the broader research questions of our project concerns whether or not marble from Aphrodisias was exported beyond its local origins. Some scholars suppose Aphrodisian marble was traded outside Asia Minor as a raw material (Monna and Pensabene 1977), to be used specifically by the Aphrodisian sculptors working outside their homeland (e.g. Attanasio et al. 2012a). On the other hand, other scholars believe it was used primarily locally, allowing for the possibility that it was exported from Aphrodisias to the wider Roman market as fully carved sculptures (Russell 2013; Long 2012).

The well-known marble quarries of Aphrodisias, located two km north of the city (the so called City Quarries), were already investigated by Nuşin Asgari in 1992 (unpublished report), and later by Gianni Ponti and Peter Rockwell (Ponti 1996; Rockwell 1996). Archaeometric studies were also conducted by other scholars who investigated marbles used in antiquity (e.g. Lazzarini et al. 2002, 163–168; Attanasio 2003; Attanasio et al. 2006; Brilli et al. 2005; Brilli et al. 2015).

In addition to the City Quarries, new marble sources were discovered by Leah Long during a survey of marble quarries as part of the Aphrodisias Regional Survey from 2005–2009 (Long 2012). These quarries are located at a distance ranging from 5 km to as far away as 17 km (Babadağ quarries) from the ancient city as the crow flies. Moreover, Ben Russell has conducted the most recent topographic and historical studies (Russell 2016, 251–262).
In 2015, the Marmora Asiatica’s survey focused on both the so-called City Quarries, as well as the Regional Quarries, all in the Karacasu Administrative District. The area covered approximately 500 km2 and was divided into twelve clusters labelled as AF1 to AF12, with the City Quarries (clusters AF9 and AF12) located in an area of approximately 1.5 km2. Our team surveyed a total of ninety-six quarries and scanned six of them.


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