A 2,100-year-old marble mother goddess sculpture of Kybele has been unearthed during excavations in the Black Sea province of Ordu’s Kurul Castle, one of the first archaeological digs in the region.
The 110-centimeter sculpture was found during excavations carried out by 25 archaeologists under the direction of Gazi University Archaeology Department Professor Süleyman Yücel.
Şenyurt said the sculpture was the first marble sculpture in Turkey to be discovered in its original place. “This happens very rarely. According to our examinations, during the occupation of Roman soldiers at Kurul Castle, the walls of the main gate collapsed … We think that the sculpture is from the sixth Mithridates period [named for the king of Pontus and Armenia Minor in northern Anatolia from about 120 to 63 B.C.] and belongs to the Hellenistic Pontus Kingdom. We also believe that it was brought from the western province of Afyon to this castle.”
Cybele (/ˈsɪbᵻliː/; Phrygian: Matar Kubileya/Kubeleya "Kubeleyan Mother", perhaps "Mountain Mother"; Lydian Kuvava; Greek: Κυβέλη Kybele, Κυβήβη Kybebe, Κύβελις Kybelis) is an Anatolian mother goddess; she has a possible precursor in the earliest neolithic at Çatalhöyük, where the statue of a pregnant, seated goddess was found in a granary. She is Phrygia's only known goddess, and was probably its state deity. Her Phrygian cult was adopted and adapted by Greek colonists of Asia Minor and spread to mainland Greece and its more distant western colonies around the 6th century BCE.
In Greece, Cybele met with a mixed reception. She was partially assimilated to aspects of the Earth-goddess Gaia, her Minoan equivalent Rhea, and the Harvest-Mother goddess Demeter. Some city-states, notably Athens, evoked her as a protector, but her most celebrated Greek rites and processions show her as an essentially foreign, exotic mystery-goddess who arrives in a lion-drawn chariot to the accompaniment of wild music, wine, and a disorderly, ecstatic following. Uniquely in Greek religion, she had a transgender or eunuch mendicant priesthood. Many of her Greek cults included rites to a divine Phrygian castrate shepherd-consort Attis, who was probably a Greek invention. In Greece, Cybele is associated with mountains, town and city walls, fertile nature, and wild animals, especially lions.
In Rome, Cybele was known as Magna Mater ("Great Mother"). The Roman State adopted and developed a particular form of her cult after the Sibylline oracle recommended her conscription as a key religious component in Rome's second war against Carthage. Roman mythographers reinvented her as a Trojan goddess, and thus an ancestral goddess of the Roman people by way of the Trojan prince Aeneas. With Rome's eventual hegemony over the Mediterranean world, Romanised forms of Cybele's cults spread throughout the Roman Empire. The meaning and morality of her cults and priesthoods were topics of debate and dispute in Greek and Roman literature, and remain so in modern scholarship.