Sunday, March 4, 2018

Rhodiapolis: City of Opramoas

Photos by Jack A. Waldron
Off highway 400, which runs directly through Kumluca, a sea of plastic domes hide the paved roads and dirt trails, that eventually take one from point A to point B.  The signs pointing the way to the ancient city of Rhodiapolis are posted all along highway 400, and if you miss one directing you along route A, then you're sure to catch another that will take you along route B, or another along route C, and then route D, and so on.  It can all become very perplexing!
In this case I was hard pressed to navigate the labyrinth that led me to an unfinished 15 degree incline, thereupon arriving I was force to push my bicycle 2 km through the 35 degree celsius heat to the summit.
The new dirt road was obviously being prepared for black top, but in its current state was too soft for my thin tires, and the large rocks below the surface coupled with the incline made riding up to Rhodiapolis impossible.
The first sign that I was getting closer to the ancient city was the Lower Level Nymphaeum (pictured above and below), which sits next to the new road leading up to the site.
The Lower Level Nymphaeum dates from the Roman period, and would have been a visitors first stop before reaching the city, as it would have provided a much appreciated respite to quench ones thirst and refresh oneself with a cool douse of water.  Unfortunately, neither awaited myself.  The arched cavities in the walls would have displayed marble statues, perhaps of nymphs, gods, and probably a Roman emperor or two, and possibly their spouse.
I was relieved to finally reach the entrance to the site, where a large tree providing plenty of shade was waiting, and also made the perfect spot to park my bike.  I carry ice bottles, frozen meat and water in my cooler bag, and a nice protective cover of shade can make a happy camper ever happier at the end of the day.
There is no charge to enter many of the ancient sites around Turkey, and Rhodiapolis is currently free of charge to enter.  It is unclear by what means and where the money comes from for the restoration of the numerous sites around the country, but there certainly are a lot funds being poured into many of them.
As an example, in the photograph above, a crane for restoration purposes can be seen next to the theater on the acropolis.  The bright white blocks of marble are a rich display of the theater restoration, though, upon my visit, there was only one other couple who were at the site.
The first large building along the path is the monumental Lower Bath.  There are however numerous smaller buildings throughout the area that have yet to be excavated.
Though there is no new signage for the the bath, or the greater site for that matter, the Lower Bath most likely dates from the Roman period, as do most of the buildings at the site.
The stacks of round brick blocks used to raise the floor are marked with an X that was made by the dragging of two fingers across them (pictured above and below).  The raised floor allowed the heat to circulate under the floor, thus keeping the room at a steady and constant temperature.
The walls and large arched niches in the caldarium can be imagined covered in a beautiful marble with exquisitely sculpted statues of the most recent Roman emperor, his mother or wife perhaps, or a favorite god or two, prominently on display for all who entered.
Pictured below, a view of the complete monumental Lower Bath as seen from where the 1st Stoa meets the 2nd Stoa along the main street.  Kumluca can be seen on the plain below, some 7km from the ancient site.
The monumental Lower Bath complex can be seen at the right side of the city plan illustrated below.
The monument marked in red in both illustrations is the Opramoas Mausoleum.
Continuing along the main street, or, the 1st Stoa,  which leads to the agora; the 2nd Stoa complex, with various temples, Nymphaeum, dedicatory monuments and numerous other buildings, can be seen in the distance (pictured below).
Pictured below, a dedicatory monument with a tri-stepped pedestal is located toward the southern end of the 1st Stoa.  Kumluca can be seen hugging the Mediterranean Sea in the distance.
Arriving at the 2nd Stoa, we come to what appears to be a temple.  There is a dedicatory monument with a lengthy inscription located in front of the building, with two more dedicatory monuments located within the building along the back wall.
Though others have labeled this building as a temple, to my observations it seems more to resemble a mausoleum.   Furthermore, this building may have served more than one function over the millennia.
In the building next to the so-called temple (pictured in the distant, right side of the photo above), dedicatory inscriptions adorn the stepped marble blocks that seal off the two apses along the back wall where the deceased may have lay in state (pictured below).
It would appear that several mausoleums were situated next to each other at this end, or, entrance to the 2nd Stoa.  The walls of these monuments were certainly at the time of their construction covered with finishing marble, or perhaps a fine stucco.
Prominent citizens or families would have been allowed to erect such monuments in order to greet and, to impress the status and wealth of the city upon visitors.  Another common monument often erected near the entrance to an ancient city was the nympheaum, as we have already witnessed with the Lower Level Nymphaeum, and here, this Upper Level Monumental Fountain or Nymphaeum, is what I believe may be pictured below.
Next to the two mausoleums previously discussed, situated in the center of the 2nd Stoa is what appears to be several sections of low sectioned wall, which would form the front wall of the Upper Level Monumental Fountain or Nymphaeum pool (pictured above).  
The illustration of the monumental Fountain of Hieropolis (pictured above) may complete the picture.  The area behind the low front wall sections is quite deep with a solid stone block wall rising several meters from the bottom back of the pool.
The building rising above the top of the wall (the back of that building is pictured above), may have been a Trajanian, very similar to the Trajanian at ancient Arycanda: a surrounding wall containing niches with a temple dedicated to Trajan in the center.  Not surprisingly, there are a series of very deep and large cisterns located behind the Upper Level Monumental Fountain or Nymphaeum in the vicinity of the Tholos Temple (pictured below).
The 2nd Stoa street eventually arrives at the staircase pictured above.  Beyond the staircase we arrive at the Agora, where there is currently a modern dirt road that is used for restoration traffic (pictured below).
The Tholos Temple (pictured below), was erected on a terrace that juts out on the slope from the main street of the 2nd Stoa near the Agora.
The Tholos Temple is not monumental, however, the space surrounding it and the view over the plain from the terrace upon which it was erected offers a stunning tribute to the god, emperor or citizen it must have honored.
The inscribed stone block pictured above was sitting on the grounds of the Tholos Temple, and I suspect it is a portion of the Opramoas Mausoleum which is located on the next terrace up the slope just across from the Tholos Temple.  Pictured below, the shop of a doctor, and, as to how this site with its original signage was preserved over the millennia I cannot imagine.
Given the fact that the signage, building, and interior remained on location throughout the millennia is very curious, as this may have been the location of succeeding physicians over the centuries.
Pictured above, within the building identified as a health clinic or hospital, a dedicatory monument to the practitioner.  Though the site signage is aged, it is not nearly as aged as the original signage identifying the site (pictured below).
The stone pillar declares that this is the shop of a doctor and surgeon, and remarkably, the red paint of the original signage is still visible in the lettering (pictured above and below).
There are numerous dedicatory monuments with lengthy inscriptions in situ around the Agora.  The monument pictured below features decorative pedestal footings or legs that are not unusual from other such examples from other nearby cities within Lycia that may have even been commissioned from the same sculptor.
We know that various ancient cities have commissioned the same sculptor or designer or architect or company to do complete jobs throughout a wide area of country.  The precision displayed in the monument pictured above is beyond that of the one pictured below, and the importance and grandiosity of each would have demanded a different skill set.
Heading up the slope toward the Grande Staircase that climbs past the Opramoas Mausoleum, I turned to grab a photo of the Agora, the Tholos terrace, the Clinic, Kumluca and the Mediterranean Sea (pictured below).
Looking up the at the Grande Staircase, the restored marble blocks of the Theater reflect the bright sun (pictured below).  The back wall of the 2nd Stoa is built out of 'Lesbian' or Polygonal stone blocks which most likely dates this terrace support structure to, or near to, the Hellenistic period.
Rising about 4-5 meters above the 2nd Stoa, this terrace is the location of the Opramoas Mausoleum (pictured below).  There are so many ancient sites in Turkey with so little easily acquired information about them.  Trying to research each site prior to visiting is a daunting task, which is one of the reasons I mistook the Opramoas Monument for a temple of Dionysus.  Being located just in front of the Theater, I thought for sure that my assessment was correct . . . , wrong!
As this was an extremely scorching hot day, and the reality that I left my bicycle unattended and unlocked under the massive shade tree, I was surely too hurried to really do the site justice.  Why did I leave my cycle unlocked?  Well, my cooler was full of food that might have spoiled if left in the direct sunlight, and the tree was too big to wrap my locking cable around . . . , so, I rushed, AND, I failed to see the Opramoas Inscription on the outer walls of the monument, BECAUSE, I didn't venture out on the terrace!  I snapped the photo of the Opramoas Monument above from the Grande Staircase, not realizing what I was looking at.
Having discovered what I was looking at at the time of photographing (while writing this blog), I came across the photo above (not my photo), and was shocked to see that this building was nearing the end of restoration.  Two years later in the summer of 2017 (as I am about two years behind in my posts), I drove right past Rhodiapolis on my way to ancient Idebessus, and I didn't  revisit Rhodiapolis at that time, but now, I will return at some point, perhaps when I dock my future sailboat SV Labrys in the Kumluca marina!
Opramoas, for whom Rhodiapolis is most remembered for, lived during the first half of the 2C AD.  His name is all over Lycia as a wealthy benefactor; for having provided the funds for the construction of theaters and other building projects throughout the land, providing relief following natural disasters such as earthquakes, offering his time and attention as high priest in the Lycian League, or as a Lyciarch, as well as respected administrator of the Roman province.
Continuing up the Grande Staircase I arrived at the western entrance to the Theater.  The restoration of the Theater was in full swing, and unfortunately, it was forbidden to explore the the cavea or stage building.
The Hellenistic Theater at Rhodiapolis has a single diazoma with fifteen rows of seating, which is then partitioned into six cunels with a seating capacity of around 2000 spectators, though there is plenty more standing room available around the wide analemma at the top of the building.
Though certain Roman period architectural modifications to the Theater do appear to have taken place, such as the protective wall around the orchestra for the performance of gladiatorial competitions, the stage building with its single level seems to have retained its Hellenistic purpose, that is, to preserve the view of nature beyond the human construct.
The original theater building employed polygonal stone blocks for its construction, and what stands out for this lover of antiquities is that this restoration has had a very difficult time replicating the basic skill needed in the construction of polygonal blocks.  Zooming in on the photo above reveals an attempt to sculpt polygonal stone blocks using modern day tools.  The modern power tools are screaming to be allowed to showcase their precision, their speed, and their lack of human touch.
The acropolis is reached via the Grande Staircase which carries on above and behind the Theater.  Here, a massive cistern has been built deep below the surface, and would appear to have been at least partially fed by a spring located at its bottom.
The city as a complete ecosystem has been built to take full advantage of the slope upon which it was constructed.  Succeeding water reluctant facilities are located below previous water reluctant facilities, thus pooling, conserving and utilizing all available water as it makes its way down the slope.  From the cistern pictured above, to a fountain on the theater terrace, to the cisterns below that, and the nymphaeum below those, and the bath below further on, and so forth.
Near the cistern on the acropolis is what I believed at the time to be the Opramoas Monument, but now, having done a bit more searching, I discover was a massive Watch Tower, probably dating from the Hellenistic period.  As there don't appear to be any defensive walls around the ancient city of Rhodiapolis, I did not expect to find any such defensive positions within the city or its surroundings.  I can see now, that such a tower would provide a commanding view of all the slopes around the city, and would have at least offered a secure store for private and public valuables.

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

Sunday, February 4, 2018

Arycanda: Sanctuary of the Sun God

Photos by Jack A. Waldron
Easy to miss, and having ended up at the car park of a heavily touristed waterfall, I back tracked and finally found a narrow paved path leading up to Arycanda.  I stopped for the photo above and noticed a cesme on the opposite side of the path.  I filled my water bottles and continued the steep climb.  But, this days' journey actually began about eight kilometers out of Finike, when I began to see numerous rock cliff tombs dotting the vertical cavern walls.
After leaving Finike, I once again arrived at the turnoff that goes to the ancient city of Limyra, about 8km from the coast.  Continuing ahead on Finike-Elmali road up the valley, just past the turnoff and high up on the back side of Tocak Dag (the mountain where the acropolis of ancient Limyra is situated) are a number of Lycian rock cliff tombs (pictured above and below).
From the road, I was able to observe two types of Lycian tombs, the House Tomb and the Temple Tomb.  Due to the difficulty in accessing these tombs, they appear to be in a remarkable state of preservation.
The House Tomb pictured at the far left in the photos below would seemingly be more appropriately called a Mansion Tomb, as its breadth and depth appear to outsize other Lycian tombs I have seen.
In the right side of the photo is a remarkably well preserved and detailed Temple Tomb, which looks to be perched atop one or more other tombs that are situated below the crest tombs.
As I continued up the valley, I was able to spot a few more rock face tombs before leaving the area that was once dominated by ancient Limyra (pictured above and below).
Now some 800 meters above see level and 40km from the coast, I arrived at the village of Arif.  In the photo below, ancient Arycanda hangs on the high slopes in the top right corner.
Easy to miss, and having ended up at the car park of waterfall tourist destination, I back tracked and finally found a narrow paved path leading up to Arycanda.  I stopped for the photo below and noticed a cesme on the opposite side of the path.  I filled my water bottles and continued the steep climb.
After having a great chat with the Arikanda watch man, Murat Sariyer, I began my four and a half hour exploration of the ancient city.  Just off the parking area is Horseshoe hill, where the grave of Lykian Governor Hermaios was once located, only to be built over with a small luxurious bath complex following the dedicatory monuments' collapse.
Continuing along the slope east/southeast toward the farthest extent of the Eastern Necropolis, the 3-4C AD Bath/Gymnasium complex (often referred to as the 6th Bath) comes into view on a terrace higher up (pictured below).  What really stands out is the Grande Bay Window that juts out from the east end of the building, not to mention the impressive size of the stone blocks used in its construction.
Though the photos above and below are sequential, I want to show the 6th Bath and Gymnasium complex in a complete perspective.  Pictured above, we are now looking down at the the Grande Bay Window, and what is believed to be the Caldarium of the bath.  Below, a view from the west looking east over the Gymnasium with the upper windows of the 6th Bath reaching above the wall in the distance.
Back along the trail, the Eastern Necropolis and its hidden tombs of various sizes can be found within the forest (pictured below).
Pictured above and below, this monumental tomb within the forest is less visited than the main section of the Eastern Necropolis (which sits on a terrace above the 6th Bath complex), though, it is none less impressive.
The sarcophagus that the tomb houses is ornately carved, most likely conveying the passions of the deceased, with gods and family traditions well represented (pictured below).
The monumental tombs of the Eastern Necropolis are on full display on the terrace just above the 6th Bath complex.  Pictured above, a Lycian sarcophagi sits within a now collapsed tomb on a terrace supported by a polygonal stone wall.
The more elaborate Temple Tombs are situated closer to the city, such as the tomb pictured above, which has very finely cared door frame (close-up pictured below).  The inner beds on which the deceased would have been laid upon can be seen inside the door at the bottom of the photo.
A representative of the family is flanked by two images of winged Nike: the protector and victor holds the arms of the deceased as they ascend toward the gods.
Further along the path of dedicatory tombs, the pediment of a collapsed tomb sits below the structure on the bottom tier, probably felled by an earthquake (pictured above).  The Temple Tomb itself, still standing on its raised base a few tiers up (pictured below).
An image of Medusa at the center of the pediment guards the family tomb, warning those who pass to think of the consequences before they undertake any plan to disturb the treasures adorning the deceased.
Another remarkable tomb sits further along the path, with its high Roman base and fluted columns, a Temple Tomb in antis, with square Corinthian columns fronting the side walls.  This is a display of the wealth of ancient Arycanda, famous for its export of cedar for the building of ships.
Turning from the monumental tombs along the necropolis path, I headed up the slope on a steep staircase built in antiquity.  The further up the slope one climbs, the more the terrace walls began to reveal themselves (pictured below).
The State Agora (pictured below) is located mid-way up the slope and is supported by massive terrace wall of polygonal and square blocks (pictured above).
On the raised u-shaped platform or portico, there are arched entrances in the back wall with steps just inside that lead to the Odeon (pictured above and below).
Pictured above, two intricately carved Corinthian capitals sit in the front of the Odeon, with the plated seating in view on the steep incline.
A view of the Odeon from a staircase above the back wall is testament to the architectural engineering required to build on such a steep slope (pictured above).
Just inside the arched entrance pictured above, a series of stairs lead to buildings higher up slope.  Various building periods of slopes and buildings are attested to by the variety of architectural types.
The staircase and raised terraces are buttressed with both polygonal and rectangular shaped stone blocks, some dating from the 1-5C AD Roman period, while others appear to be from the Hellenistic period; but nevertheless, the city continues yet higher and higher up the slope (pictured below).
The next building to be featured up the slope and above the Odeon being the Theater, a Greek design in that it is greater than a semi-circle, and with a detached stage building that did not rise to height as to block the view of the scene beyond; nature in the act.  Pictured below, a view of the interior of the stage building.
Pictured above, three doors from the stage building open into the proscenia, here, Roman decorative building members, such as the fluted columns, testify to the restorative work done between the 1C BC - 4C AD.  Below, a Hellenistic triglyph metope sculpted as part of the first construction.
At a pleasant climatic altitude, the ancient theater goers would be able to escape the blistering heat of summer, with cool breezes and a view to kill for.
There could be no doubt, that the well to do would spend their summers in Arycanda, and return to the warmth of Limyra near the sea during the winter months.
 Reserved seating can be found throughout the theater seating, as the names of those who gained the right have their names forever etched into them (pictured above and below).
The decorative elements of the theater, such as the seating leg posts (pictured below) suggest that the theater and stadium were constructed during the same period, as they also share architectural similarities.
The Hellenistic theater at Arycanda has 20 rows of seating in a single diazoma separated by 7 kerkides or cunel.  The seating of the theater is built into the slope of Mount Akdag, and protrudes toward the stage building ending in support walls.  
Though the theater is thought to have been modified during the later Roman period, the stage building appears to have escaped the Roman practice of elevating the skene to a height that blocks the spectator's view of the natural scene beyond the theater.
Furthermore, there is no protective wall built to separate and protect the spectators from the action within the orchestra, where gladiatorial competitions could have been facilitated.
The theater seating also serves the purpose of a support for the terrace above, which is where the stadium rests.  Pictured below, a view up the slope from the theater, at the support wall and steps leading to the stadium, as well as the peak of Mount Akdag.
The stadium is quite a magnificent structure considering its location, as ascending the steep slope from the lower city alone would provide a citizen with a good workout.
I found the Building with Niches to be a most interesting structure and area.  Prior to becoming a space where athletes aspired to reach the heights of glorious honor amongst the gods, priests would put on displays of ascension in their attempts to find favor within the heavens.
The wall and its niches retain the plaster that was applied many millennia ago.  Vertical posts procuring out from the niches are decorated in the fashion of a grand ancient temple, with columns supporting Corinthian capitals, over which an entablature rises featuring a frieze with regulae or guttae visible to this day (pictured above and below).
The plaster facade covering the stone blocks of the building provided a marble like beauty that may have also been decorated with painted highlights.  That this structure is so well preserved is probably the most astonishing aspect about this monument.
Proceeding west and a bit down the slope, I came to the east end of the terrace support wall where the Commercial Agora is located (pictured below).
Pictured above, the steps leading up to the stoa.  Here, a wooden building would have run the length of the agora, and have housed the twelve shops selling the goods that kept the city alive.
Pictured above, the west end of the Commercial Agora reveals some of the partitions between the shops.  At the far west end (pictured below), the remnents of the arched roof can be seen on the back wall, as well as the side walls where the arch begins its journey.  The depressed or sunken floor may indicate a cool space to store heat sensitive produce.
Continuing west along the main street of the slope (pictured below), we arrive at what is believed to be the Temple of Helios, the back of which can be seen below at the end of the street.
This Hellenistic temple reserves a central and high position within the city.  Though it is not absolutely sure that this is indeed the Temple of Helios, the sun god is known to have held a central space of worship among the ancient Arycandians.
Pictured above and below, the terrace support wall can be seen in front and below the temple, followed by the three remaining steps of the crepidoma, and finally, the recess carved directly into the rock face of the mountain which provided the space for the temple to be erected.
Continuing west from the Temple of Helios, we arrive at the Bouleuterion or Council House (pictured below).  In the photo below, the remains of the seats can be seen, which were carved out of the rock face of the slope.
Pictured above, a view up the slope with the rock carved seating of the Bouleuterion traversing scene.  Below, a bench seat, or section of seating, or perhaps a pedestal to a monument sits on the terrace just below the Bouleuterion.  The canvas seen in the photo below is protecting a mosaic, which might have decorated a fountain area, or some other building.

Pictured above, the support wall and bottom section of the Bouleuterion building (the seats can be seen beyond this wall).  There is a large Cistern located just below the Bouleuterion to the west (pictured below), and is probably the cistern that fed the Terrace Bath and Nymphaeum which are further down the slope.
With the village of Arif pictured in the valley far below the ancient city, the top of the wall of the Terrace Bath comes into view (pictured above).  Reaching the massive stone entrance to the Terrace bath was quite a relief, as it can be quite trecherous navagating the steep slope with its unstable boulders ready to give way upon any step.
Round brick blocks can be found within the bath building, and were used to raise the floor of the bath, thus allowing the thermal heating of the floor (pictured above).  Roman bathes would also employ double walls with a space between the two allowing steam to run through the space, which would provide equal and balanced heating throughout the room.
The marble caldron pictured above might have provided a cool splash of water in the midst of the hot steamy environs.  Or, perhaps it was kept full with cold spring water for a soothing drink?  Further down the slope near the State Agora is the Nympheaum (pictured below).
Continuing down the slope and just below the State Agora there is what looks like a tower, however, it may simply be a section of terrace wall, or perhaps a municiple building, used for storage, or what not, and in connection to the State Agora (pictured below).
Taking the rock cut stairs further down the slope brings us to a very large building known as the Traianeum (pictured below).  The large square niches in the walls suggest a second story, and building is thought to have been a Basilica, and this would most likely been how the space was utilized during the late Roman and Byzantine periods.
Upon further inspection of the area, we find in the center of the space the clear remains of a crepidoma, including the stereobate, euthynteria and all the way up to the stylobate (pictured below).
The Traianeum at Arycanda, which is a large temple, would have been built in honor of the Emperor Trajan (full name, Marcus Ulpius Traianus) in the late 1C AD - the early 2C AD.
Whether commissioned by him or after his death is unknown, but perhaps as in the case of the Traianeum at Italica near Sevilla, Spain, where Trajan was born, the Traianeum Temple there was built by his adopted son and successor, Hadrian.
Continuing my trek down the slope toward the site entrance, we come to what is being called the Roman Villa (pictured below).
The villa was still under excavation when I visited, so it was impossible to enter, however, I did manage to extend my camera through the fence in order to snap this photo of one of the mosaics.

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