A mythical hero called Azan, one of three sons of the legendary king Arkas and the nymph Erato, is in ancient tradition supposed to be the forefather of the Phrygians settled along the river Penkalas in the neighborhood of the Cave of the goddess Meter Steunene. From this Azan the name of the city Aizanoi is derived. Aizanoi was the capital of Aizanitis, which belonged to Phrygia.New excavation of the elevated rise where the principal ancient sanctuary of the city, the temple of Zeus (A), is located has unearthed evidence of a third millenium B.C. occupation level. In earlier Anatolian times, situated in the same location as the later temple building was one of many settlement mounds which recently have been determined to have occupied the Aizanitis. During the Hellenistic period this entire region alternated between the hegemonies of Pergamon and Bithynia; it came under Roman control in 133 B.C. The first coins date from the second and first centuries B.C. It is only from the last quarter of the first century B.C. that we have concrete evidence for the city of Aizanoi which, through its production of cereals, wine, and sheep's wool, was to rise to prosperity during the period of the Roman Empire. In early Byzantine times the city was the seat of a bishopric; from the seventh century onwards, however, its influence dwindled markedly.
In medieval times the rise upon which the temple stands was transformed into a fortified citadel which subsequently served a group of the Cavdar Tatars as a fort during the Seljuk dynasties, thus giving the community its present name, Çavdarhisar (Çavdar Citadel). Aizanoi was discovered by European travellers in 1824. The earliest research work was undertaken in the '3os and '4os of the nineteenth century. The excavations of the German Archaeological Institute were begun in 1926 under the direction of M. Schede and D. Krencker; resumed in 1970 under R. Naumann, these are still in progress.