Sunday, January 2, 2022

Perre: Antiochia On The Taurus

 Photos by Jack A. Waldron

Ancient Perre (also spelled, Perrhe) is now called Orenli, but is probably still known by its original village title, Pirin.
Today, the same route crossing the Taurus mountain range is used by all varieties of traffic, including bicycles, between Malatya (ancient Melitene) and Adiyaman, as Perre is no longer the important crossing staging point it’s fresh water spring once made it (pictured below).
The Roman era marble fountain (protective spring structure) is located in the center of the village, and is still in use today.
Cesme’ in English is ‘spring’, and ‘Roma’ is ‘Roman’, but there are no camped armies, or caravans preparing for the mountain crossing, just modern vehicles zooming past this ancient staging point.
Pictured below, a deep look at the inner structure of this Roman fountain.
I’m not sure why the clay pipes (pictured above) have been placed in the spring, perhaps to clean them slowly, or, to funnel the water for clear drinking?
As for the rest of the ancient city, I’m afraid it lay under the village.
As with the numerous other villages around Turkey that lay atop ancient ruins, as the villagers move, pass away, etc., the houses and land are slowly bought up by government entities, and eventually excavated.
Walking up behind and atop the Roman fountain, we can see that the structure is indeed elaborate, and continues under the more recent black top pavement.
Stepping closer, it becomes obvious that there are various marble building members scattered atop the spring structure, which may have been part of a fountain house.
Walking toward the hills, one can’t help but try to locate the unexcavated theater, which could possibly be captured in the photo below?
The spring poppies in Turkey never let one down for color, especially when growing in the midst of an ancient city, though I must say, the wild Rocca I picked in the ancient city of Laodicea On The Lycus really was extra delicious.
Once again, the scenery around Adiyaman doesn’t fail to awe. 
The village in the background is Orenli (Pirin), and I am standing at the edge/beginning of the expansive Necropolis.
The photo below is of an ongoing excavation that is not yet open to the public.  It is directly above the village, and may be another necropolis.
Continuing on to the main site, which is the Necropolis, a dead city emerges, with cisterns, catacombs, and building members from freestanding, or partially freestanding tombs.
A city indeed!
There are so many rock cut tombs, that one could spend forever investing them all.
For range reference, the tomb pictured above in the center bottom of the photo can be seen in the photos above and below
Some sarcophagi were protected within the rock honed tombs (sculpted boxes with lids, or, lids atop rectangular burial holes, while others were placed outside to weather in the elements.
This quarry slash necropolis makes for a fascinating work/rest polis.
The round port light in the left of the photo below allows a plentiful portion of light into the back chambers of the tomb.
Stepping inside, we go from 28 Celsius to 18, and the darkness is at first blinding, but oh those port lights!
As you can see below, the tombs become very navigable with the help or the intense Turkish sun.
This multi space burial tomb was most likely purposed for a large family, plus extended family members as the decades passed, eventually raided for any treasure, and finally, a dwelling for a local family.
The burial tomb entrance pictured below comes alive as the Egyptian(?) reliefs come to view (that may still have rough thinly painted surfaces), however, is it simply my imagination at work here?
I see on the right side, an archaic figure with an Egyptian headress  and short skirt walking or standing?
Continuing through the necropolis, I found this natural wall that divides two sections quite aesthetically pleasing.
Perhaps once protected from the elements by a stone or wooden superstructure, remnants of what looks like a stone block floor can be seen (pictured below).
Here we can see the same tombs as above in the left of the photo, along with hollowed out sarcophagi blocks that once would have been protected by lids (pictured below).
As the pillar bases pictured below will attest to, some of the burial tombs were partially or fully constructed and stood independently from the stone necropolis/quarry walls.
Here we have two column building members, though I can’t truly place them as capitals or bases, though I suspect the one pictured above is a column base, while the one pictured below is a capital?
The square building member pictured below is also most likely a column base for one of the collapsed tombs.
No city would be complete without its water supply, and to aid grieving families with their customary visits to pay respects, and for those who worked in the area, cisterns can be found throughout the necropolis (pictured below).
This cistern is quite deep and narrow, and descends to a door opening with the water accessible from both within the substructure or, from ground level via a shaft.
The necessity for, and availability of fresh spring water before crossing the mountains to Melitene (Malatya), probably ensured some prosperity for the people inhabiting the city as a whole.
I can imagine some ancient citizens using the sunken cisterns as respites from the summer heat.  Pictured below, a view back up the staircase.
Pictured below, a flash shot of the door opening at the bottom of the staircase.
Here we have yet another of the numerous sunken staircase cisterns that can be found throughout the necropolis (pictured below).
I didn’t take photos from inside this cistern as it was partially blocked by debris.  I doubt I will still be alive when greater Perre is finally vacated by locals and excavated.

*All photos and content property of Jack A. Waldron (photos may not be used without written permission)

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Wednesday, October 27, 2021

Karakus Tumulus

 Photos by Jack A. Waldron

 

A very short distance from Cendere Bridge is one of the most well known tumuli in Turkey (behind the King Midas Tumulus of course), the Karakus Tumulus.

Pictured in the photo above, the Karakus Tumulus can be seen in the distant right of the photo.  The tumulus dates to the first century BCE, and according to an inscription on the Eastern column, the tumulus was built for members of the Commagene Royal Family.
The tumulus dates to the first century BCE, and according to an inscription on the Eastern column, the tumulus was built for members of the Commagene Royal Family.
Adiyaman and the surrounding area is rich with antiquities (marked in red on the map).  
More locally to Adiyaman, and as you will discover in future posts on the area, there are many more antiquity sites than those listed on the map below.
The Karakus Tumulus was built between 30-20 BCE during the reign of Mithridares II of Commagene, and is dedicated to Queen Islas, Princess Antiochis, and Aka I of Commagene.
The name given to the tumulus, “Karakus”, which means ‘black bird’, and is thought to have derived from the large sculpture of an eagle located on top of the column on the southern side of the tumulus (pictured below).
As you can see in the photo above, the tumulus was partially destroyed as a result of robbers digging into it and it’s vault for treasure.
Theft of the buried antiquities is believed to have occurred after the Commagene kingdom came under Roman rule in 72 CE.
I will do more research, but it would be more uniform if there were two columns at the South/East/North/West points around the tumulus.  All of the columns are in the Doric tradition.
Perhaps the second South column was quarried and repurposed, as we saw with the Cendere Bridge columns, which were repurposed from another site or sites.
Moving around to the East Columns (or, Northeastern columns?), we get a glorious view of the valley beyond.  Off in the distance are Mount Nemrut and Arsemeia.
As you can see, both columns at the east site remain in situ, however, only one of the sculptures has survived the 2000 year journey.  Further, there is a Greek honorific inscription to three women (apparently) that eluded my sight, that is supposed to be present on what is described as the “Northeastern column” which reads:
This is the hierothesion of Isias, whom the great King Mithridates deemed worthy of this final hour.  And, Antiochis lies herein, the king’s sister by the same mother, the most beautiful of women, whose life was short but her honors long enduring.  Both of these, as you see, preside here, and with them a daughter’s daughter, the daughter of Antiochis, Aka.  A memorial of life with each other and of the king’s honour.
An interesting experience and observation, I planned to revisit Mount Nemrut the following day, and though the clouds and sunny skies were beautiful, the 40+ kilometer per hour wind driven rain encountered while trying to go over and through the mountains pictured here forced me to rethink the the route . . . , I turned back went around along the valley.
The remaining sculpture is of a bull in an all four sitting position, however, it’s head has been severed from the body over the millennia.
When scale is added to the photo, the massive size of these columns can truly be appreciated.
When all of the elements come together, the tombs Being may show the enraptured observer some aspects of what it may have offered the ancients.
In the photo below, we can now clearly see the crouching bull, and on the second column, a fragment of the missing sculpture.
Here (pictured below), is what I think may be the missing upper sculptural fragment from the second column, which is laying just below the columns.
My guess is that the sculpture was of a lion, but, I could not get a good enough view of the complete sculpture.
Leaving the Eastern Columns for the Northern site (or, was this considered Northeast?) with the valley at our backs, we can get a strong sense of the beauty and prominence of the area and the site location.
Bypassing the Northern site, as there are no columns or sculptures in situ, we continue around to the Western site, where we discover some interesting remains.
The monumental sculpture of a lion bust pictured above may have come from any of several columns around the site.  That being said, how many column sites were there actually?  Were there four sites, or three?
It may be the missing sculpture from the Eastern site, or, perhaps it was one of the sculptures from the Northern site (if there were indeed columns at the site), or, maybe there was a second column at the Western site, which we’ll take a look at now.
Pictured below, a relief of Mithridates II shaking hands with his sister Laodice.  Also interesting to me, is the crushed stone that was used to build up the tumulus, because a similar building material was used at Mount Nemrut, and further, who had to break all those boulders?
If there was a second column at the Southern and Western sites, what sculpture might have topped them?
I also am curious about the state of these remaining columns when they were rediscovered, if they were ever lost? 
Again, I need to spend some time researching the archeological history of this sight.
Here are a couple angles of the relief, which seems redundant, however, some viewers have requested more detailed shots.
I love the photo below for a couple of reasons; one, the shear magnitude and beauty of the cloud, and two, I should have seen that the storm gods were giving warning!
Leaving Mithridates II and his sister atop the Western column site, it’s time to see things from above.
A climb to the top of the tumulus for an eagles eye view explains a lot about the chosen location (Karakus tumulus pictured above, with Eastern/Northeastern column site pictured below).
A final goodbye to Mithridates II and his sister, and then back around to the Karakus Column.
Just around the tumulus, the eagle atop its perch can be spotted (photo below).
From this angle, the eagle seems even larger than it did before.  Quite impressive for a two-thousand year old specimen!

*All photos and content property of Jack A. Waldron (photos may not be used without written permission)

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