NYU Excavations at Aphrodisias (G. Petruccioli)

MARVELOUS MARBLE. Located only a few miles from some of the richest marble quarries in the ancient world, Aphrodisias was famous not only for its gleaming monuments, but also for the beauty and craftsmanship of its many marble sculptures. The marble relief panel above, which once decorated the halls of the city’s Sebasteion, shows a battle-clad Aeneas, the legendary Trojan hero and ancestor of Rome’s founders, fleeing the sack of Troy with his elderly father Anchises perched on his shoulder and his young son Iulus (also called Ascanius) in tow. (The story of Aeneas’s flight from Troy and subsequent voyage to Italy is famously told in Virgil’s epic The Aeneid.) The trio’s escape is watched over by Aeneas’s divine mother, Aphrodite, the goddess of love who was worshiped in the temple of Aphrodisias.