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The city of Aphrodisias probably precedes its namesake, Greek goddess of love Aphrodite, by thousands of years. The first settlements in the area, now part of Turkey, are some 8,000 years old; inhabitants worshipped Astartia and Istar, who later became Aphrodite and (in Rome) Venus. New York University associate professor Christopher Ratte will discuss the site in a Smithsonian Associates slide-illustrated lecture, “Aphrodisias: The City of Venus.” The field director of Aphrodisias Excavations, Ratte will detail the monuments, temples, and sculpture discovered in the ruinsdespite much damage done by Christians when they ruled the city they called Stauropolisand discuss the evidence that Aphrodisias was a planned city. At 6 p.m. at the Museum of American History’s Carmichael Auditorium, 14th & Constitution Ave. NW. $13. For reservations call (202) 357-3030. (Mark Jenkins)