Sunday, October 4, 2020

Didyma: The Sacred Way

Photos by Jack A. Waldron

I've traveled modern roads, that have taken me down ancient paths and the cities they lead to.  Unfortunately, with the lock down in place here in Turkey, I have not been able to explore any ancient cities since the pandemic began.  However, because I am a bit behind in my publications, I will continue to research, write, and post in an attempt to catch up and be as current as possible.  Of course, due to the in depth historical research required to offer historical background on the sites I explore, there will always be a lag time.  That said, when Sail Classical is initiated within the next two years, a Vlog production will be much more up to date.
For over three-thousand years, this road accommodated the New Year ritual procession between Miletus and the Sanctuary of Apollo at Didyma, and saw sacred rights offered along its route  at such sites as the Sanctuary of the Nymphs and the Archaic Cult Complex.  At some point in the future, I plan to walk this route in its entirety.
The New Year ritual procession from Miletus to the Sanctuary of Apollo at Didyma would begin in Miletus at the Sanctuary of Apollo Delphino.  From there, the procession would follow the Sacred Way that runs parallel to the North Agora and eventually arrives at the Younger Sacred Way Gate, not far from the Temple of Athena at Miletus.  Immediately beyond the gate was a complex dedicated to the religious functions of the festival and the procession (not unlike the complex found along the road at the other end in Didyma, pictured above), through which continued the road to Didyma.

The Miletus Archaeological Museum provides quite a bit of background information with regard to the Sacred Way, which I have provided in the photo below.  There is a PDF file available online through the American Journal Of Archaeology that gives a much more in depth historical account on the archaeological findings of the Sacred Way.
Although these photos (above and below) look like they were taken while roaming the paved road site, they are actually taken through a fence that surrounds the area, as the road is not currently open to the public.  If you can see in the distance along the road, there are site information signs along the path, but, for some reason there is no access.  That said, there is talk of opening the area to tourists, and even the possibility of reconnecting the road to the Sanctuary of Apollo.

The Archaic era pathway between Miletus and the Sanctuary of Apollo was not paved, so, what we are looking at in the photo above is of a later Roman construction, probably dating from the 2C CE.  Just beyond the extent of the road in photo above, the pavement toward Miletus ends, and an increasingly hard to follow path continues north.
Close in proximity to the Sanctuary of Apollo, this paved section of the Sacred Way was home to a stoa with shops, as well as other buildings that may have provided services such as lodging for pilgrims, those waiting for council from the oracle, or perhaps for attendees of the Great Didymeia, a drama competition that took place every four years.
Pictured above are three of the Brankid sculptures, named after the ancient title of Didyma, Branchidae, and the Brankhid Dynasty that governed the region under a theoretical state.  These seated Brankid statues were located about 200 meters beyond ancient gate near the end of the remaining paved section.  Further, this may have been the last sanctuary where rites were given before entering the Sanctuary of Apollo Didyma.  Lion sculptures such as the one pictured below within the temenos of the Temple of Apollo were also foundalong the Sacred Way at the entrance to the sanctuary.
The Molpoi text gives us the most detailed information on the 18 km long road, though it dates from the Hellenistic period, and is either a copy of another lost text, or, written from ritual stories passed down through the ages.  Unfortunately, I could not get a photo of the Molpoi inscription as it was on loan to another museum when I visited.


During the 6C BCE, a caste know as the Branchids, who were members a family of prophets over many generations, was in administrative control of sanctuary of Didyma, or, the Didymaion.  One of the groups of statuary found along the Sacred Road to Didyma consisted of several statues of Branchids (pictured above and below).

The Branchidae name is derived from Brancus, a favorite son of Apollo (due to his beauty), and whose mother was Milesian.  According to Strabo, when the boy was born, the mother felt the sun passing through her body, which was interpreted by seers as a good omen.  Because of Brancus' beauty, Apollo gave the boy special prophetic powers, which were exercised after the establishment of an oracle at Didyma.
It is thought that the practice of gazing was employed in order for the Branchidic oracles to arrive at their prophetic pronouncements.  Gazing at an object, Flame Gazing, or Water Gazing, as a Trataka or tantric form of meditation most certainly arrived from the East.  By focusing on an object, energy is said to be pronounced in the "third eye", which in turn brings about psychic abilities. 
The British Museum is home to one of the Archaic statues that belonged to a now lost group of statues that once sat along the Sacred Way from the port of Panormos to sanctuary of Apollo at Didyma, similar to the statue pictured below.  According to the inscription on a leg of the chair, the seated figure has been identified as Chares, the son of Kleisis, a ruler of nearby Teichiussa.
The inscription on the leg of the chair reads,"I am Chrares, son of Kleisis, Ruler of Teichiussa.  The statue belongs to Apollo." (McCabe, Didyma 139)  Teichiussa is located about 15 kilometers east of Didyma along the coast road just before arriving at Akbuk (see satellite photo of Teichiussa above, and a Survey of the ancient city below).
One group of statues along the Sacred Way belonged to the Terrace Building sanctuary, and are on display at the Miletus Archeological Museum (pictured below).  The sanctuary fronted the Sacred Way, as can be seen in the illustration behind the display.
Winged Sphinxes recovered from the site are from the Archaic Period, and are in a surprisingly good state of condition.

SPHINX (Sphinx), a monstrous being of Greek mythology, is said to have been a daughter of Orthus and Chimaera, born in the country of the Arimi (Hes. Theog. 326), or of Typhon and Echidna (Apollod. iii. 5. § 8; Schol. ad Eurip. Phoen. 46), or lastly of Typhon and Chimaera (Schol. ad Hes. and Eurip. l. .c.). Some call her a natural daughter of Laius (Paus. ix. 26. § 2). Respecting her stay at Thebes and her connection with the fate of the house of Laius. The riddle which she there proposed, she is said to have learnt from the Muses (Apollod. iii. 5. § 8), or Laius himself taught her the mysterious oracles which Cadmus had received at Delphi (Paus. ix. 26. § 2). According to some she had been sent into Boeotia by Hera, who was angry with the Thebans for not having punished Lains, who had carried off Chrysippus from Pisa. She is said to have come from the most distant part of Ethiopia (Apollod. l. c. ; Schol. ad Eurip. Phoen. 1760); according to others she was sent by Ares, who wanted to take revenge because Cadmus had slain his son, the dragon (Argum. ad Eurip. Phoen.), or by Dionysus (Schol. ad Hes. Theog. 326), or by Hades (Eurip. Phoen. 810), and some lastly say that she was one on the women who, together with the daughters of Cadmus, were thrown into madness, and was metamorphosed into the monstrous figure. (Schol. ad Eurip. Phoen. 45.)

The legend itself clearly indicates from what quarter this being was believed to have been introduced into Greek mythology. The figure which she was conceived to have had is originally Egyptian or Ethiopian; but after her incorporation with Grecian story, her figure was variously modified. The Egyptian Sphinx is the figure of an unwinged lion in a lying attitude, but the upper part of the body is human. They appear in Egypt to have been set up in avenues forming the approaches to temples. The greatest among the Egyptian representations of Sphinxes is that of Ghizeh, which, with the exception of the paws, is of one block of stone. The Egyptian Sphinxes are often called androsphinges (Herod. ii. 175; Menandr. Fragm. p. 411, ed. Meineke), not describing them as male beings, but as lions with the upper part human, to distinguish them from those Sphinxes whose upper part was that of a sheep or ram. The common idea of a Greek Sphinx, on the other hand, is that of a winged body of a lion, having the breast and upper part of a woman (Aelian, H. A. xii. 7; Auson. Griph. 40 ; Apollod. iii. 5. § 8; Schol. ad Eurip. Phoen. 806). Greek Sphinxes, moreover, are not always represented in a lying attitude, but appear in different positions, as it might suit the fancy of the sculptor or poet. Thus they appear with the face of a maiden, the breast, feet, and claws of a lion, the tail of a serpent, and the wings of a bird (Schol. ad Aristoph. Ran. 1287 ; Soph. Oed. Tyr. 391 ; Athen. vi. p. 253; Palaephat. 7); or the fore part of the body is that of a lion, and the lower part that of a man, with the claws of a vuiture and the wings of an eagle (Tzetz. ad Lycoph. 7). Sphinxes were frequently introduced by Greek artists, as ornaments of architectural and other works. (Paus. iii. 18. § 8, v. 11. § 2; Eurip. Elect. 471.)

In the Boeotian dialect the name was phix (Hes. Theog. 326), whence the name of the Boeotian mountain, Phikion oros. (Hes. Scut. Herc. 33.)

Source: Dictionary of Greek and Roman Biography and Mythology.

Archaic Kouros youth statues represent the passage of youth into adulthood.  The chief kouros was Apollo, and he would oversee the ceremonial procession that celebrated this passage (pictured below).
As you can clearly see on the left leg of the archaic statue pictured below, which was found along the Sacred Way, an inscription records the god that the sculpture was dedicated to, and by whom the sculpture was commissioned.  Perhaps the son of a rich benefactor was coming of age, and the father sought the blessings of the god Apollo for his son in manhood.
I am fascinated with this and other sacred ways throughout the ancient world.  One to mention is the Sacred Way between Stratonikeia and the Sanctuary of Hecate at Lagina (and I must mention here, that I have photographed all of the frieze members from the Temple of Hecate on display at the Istanbul Archeological Museum, and will be writing a special post on the Temple of Hecate at Lagina in the future).  So, I am planning several hikes along ancient Sacred Ways in the future, and of course, \i will blog, and hopefully, vlog about these adventures!!
The Sacred Way beginning at Miletus eventually arrives at the Sanctuary of Apollo at Didyma (pictured below).  The Temple of Apollo can be seen at the top of the photo, and the Sacred Way can be seen entering the picture from the bottom left corner.  This final leg of the Sacred Way contained shops selling dedicatory votive statues, food and water for the weary pilgrims, or perhaps a bath and a place to stay. 
Festivities would commence at the sanctuary on certain dates or days of the year, and could include athletic games for the youth passing into manhood, readings of oracular prognostication, presentations to and support for the Branchidic oracles, and so on.
Pictured below are golden bowls or short cups and a tall golden cup that most certainly would have been used during special ceremonies.  These are on display at the Miletus Archeological Museum.
Special ceramic ware has also been found and put on display (pictured below).  The cycling experience between these sights truly deserves more attention, I know.  In the very near future a second phase of Bike Classical will begin, and will include both cycling and sailing, and, these future adventures will be transformed into a Vlog under both Bike Classical and Sail Classical.  So, keep your eyes peeled for a new experience of discovery of the ancient world, cycling, and sailing!

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Saturday, September 5, 2020

Miletus: City Center Pt.3

Photos by Jack A. Waldron

Continuing my exploration of Miletus, which I conducted from the Theater counter-clockwise around the site, I leave the Serapeum to investigate the center of the Hellenistic/Roman city, beginning at the Central Square (illustrated below).
In the illustration below, the very large white building in the upper right is the Bouleuterion.  Fronting the Bouleuterion compound is a propylon gate that sits on the Central Square.  At the head of the square on the right (south), is the monumental Market Gate, while next to it sits the great Nympheaum/Fountain, which is facing the Bouleuterion directly across the Central Square.
Before moving on to the remains of the Bouleuterion, here is an historical recap of Miletus.
Pictured below, I am standing at the Roman Altar facing the Bouleuterion.  Some blocks of the front wall sit in situ between myself and the upside down U-shaped rows of seating in the distance.  In the upper right-hand portion of the photo, you can see the back of the Theater and Byzantine Fortress meeting the blue sky.  The courtyard of the Bouleuterion measured 32 meter wide by 35 meters deep, and was surrounded by a Doric colonnaded portico.
The maximum capacity of the building was about 1500, with 18 rows of seating seperated into three kerkides/cunel by two staircases.  
The Bouleutarion is a Hellenistic structure, built between 175-163 BCE, however, a later Roman addition was to the center of the courtyard, where an altar dedicated to Augustus for worship of the imperial cult was built.  In the top illustration below, the view drawn here is of the orchestra and speakers podium, as seen from the upper central seating area.
In the lower illustration above, beyond the Bouleuterion, you can see a long row of columns in the distance, which is the western portico of the South Agora: the Serapeum is located just the side (outside) this section of the South Agora portico.
The two standing marble blocks pictured above sit in situ, and formed part of the front wall of the Bouleuterion building.  Besides the front wall, the stone tile flooring can still be seen, and with the cavea rising in the back, it is easy to reconstruct the building in one's mind.
As you can see from the elaborately sculpted ceiling section pictured above, and what may be a section of door frame pictured below, the Bouleuterion was truly a magnificently ornamented structure, and it had to be, as it was constructed in the name of the Syrian king, Antiochos IV Epiphanes.
Though the Bouleuterion was constructed in the name of the Syrian king, the funding actually came from two Milesian brothers, Timarchus and Heracleides, as is inscribed on the architrave over the entrance.
As can be seen in the photo above, the marble used in the construction of the Bouleuterion was of the highest quality, which till this day retains its beauty.
Pictured above, the orchestra and cavea as seen from just outside the front wall of the building, while below, the illustration view is in the opposite direction from the analemma.
Spinning around from the Bouleuterion to face across the Central Square (pictured below), you can see the great Nympheaum in the right of the photo, and on the left in the photo, the steps and colonnade of a roofed portico known as the Sacred Way.  
The monumental Market Gate that leads us to the South Agora is out of the photo to the right.  The Market Gate and Nympheaum were taken to Berlin, Germany, and both have been reconstructed and stand on display at the Pergamon Museum.  The illustration below is drawn from the exact same view point, only, in my photo above the Market Gate is out of the frame to the right/south.
Turning to the right, or south (pictured below) you can see a wall that was built by the Byzantines during the 7C CE, and basically follows the Agora wall to the Market Gate, which was incorporated into it.  Beyond this wall you can see the bases of a colonnade running into the distance, which formed the western portico of the South Agora.
Following this wall east, or to the left in the photo above, brings us to what remains of the monumental Market Gate, which is located in the lower left-hand corner of the illustration below, leading to the South Agora.
The 2C CE Market Gate, which was 30 meters wide and 16 metres wide, was probably built during the time of Roman Emperor Hadrian's rule, and replaced an earlier gate that may have dated from the 3C BCE, and that was simpler in design.  I cannot show you my photo of the Roman Market Gate, because I have yet to visit the Pergamon Museum in Berlin.
If you take the crepidoma and stylobate of the gate (pictured above), and apply them to the site display of the Market Gate pictured below, you can get an idea of just how beautiful and magnificent this gate was, as it once stood on its original footings.
As you can see, the Market Gate was two stories tall with niches on the top level that had statues depicting the emperors of Rome battling the barbarians they had faced.  In the illustration below, you can see two lines of citizens pacing through the two doors of the Market Gate.  The Bouleuterion is located to the right (west) of these lines, and the great Nympheaum is to the left (east).
The Corinthian columned Nymphaeum originally had two stories, with a central third story being added during the 3C CE, which probably displayed statues of the Roman Imperial Cult.  The lower story displayed statues of the water related gods, and nymphs, which were also functional spouts that filled the pools.  On the second story were statues of the Olympian gods.
Standing more than 20 meter high, the fountain had protruding wings on either side of two separate pools. It is believed that the facade of the fountain was designed based on the elaborately decorated Theater skene, and further, that if you picture the Library of Ephesus, you can get an idea of its beauty.  Separated, ordered, and stacked against each other, ancient architects were no less ambitious in their pursuit to reflect `the beautiful' in their works, than any architect of today, and there is proof enough of that in ancient cities around the world.
The illustration below is looking from a southwest view point to the northeast.  In the lower right quarter of the illustration you can can see the large empty space of the South Agora with its portico around the perimeter.  The large white building just outside the South Agora is the Bouleuterion with its propylon gate off to its right on the Central Square facing the Nymphaeum directly across the square.
From the Central Square moving north you can see a long white colonnade, which is known as the Ionoc Stoa.  The Ionic Stoa was constructed during the middle part of the 1C CE under the reign of Roman Emperor Claudius, and modified under Emperor Trajan in the late 1C to early 2C CE.  The stoa is around 100 meters in length, and about 14 meters in depth.
There are six steps up to the stoa from the paved open space in front, which as you can see in the photo below, is prone to flooding, which must have also been a problem during ancient times.  This open space was part of the Processional Way, that begins at the Delphinium, which is dedicated to Apollo, and which ends approximately 16 km away at the sanctuary of Apollo at Didyma.
This elevation protected the many shops and their customers from such inundations, while the roofed portico with its 35 fluted columns protected them from the intense sun rays.  Further, the stadium like steps would have been used sitting and relaxing, for festivals, and of course to observe the procession from the Delphinium to the sanctuary of Apollo.
Directly across the paved open space is the smaller North Agora (in the right of the illustration below, which dates to the 5-4C BCE, and that also saw alterations during the Hellenistic and Roman periods.  The Ionic Stoa can be seen across from the North Agora on the opposite side of the Processional Way.  Behind the Ionic Stoa is the Hellenistic Gymnasium, which I failed to explore do to time constraints.
Continuing north on the Processional Way (toward the center of the illustration above) brings us to the Delphinium of Apollo, which is where the Processional Way begins.  In the illustration above, sacrificial smoke rises from the altar to Apollo (red dot within the large green square on the city plan below).
The outline of the Delphinium of Apollo is easy to follow in the photo below, but unfortunately, the blocks of its perimeter wall have been quarried, and the columns of its portico repurposed, or worse, burnt for lime.  In the photo below, you can see the column bases lined up down the left side and then turning the corner across the shot.  The wall further out from the bases toward the bottom of the frame and off to the extreme left is the perimeter wall.
The illustration below is drawn from the same corner as the photo above was taken, and from nearly the same angle.  The temenos of the Delphinium measured 50 meters wide and 60 meters deep.  It is the oldest sanctuary at Miletus dedicated to Apollo, and it is connected to the oldest of Greek myths that relate the god with dolphins.

Inscriptions on blocks of marble, dedicatory bases, columns, architraves, stele and more, tell the stories of what we find, and build a background of the lives of the ancients, as well as of our own history.  When George Bean examined the Delphinium, he reported more than 200 inscriptions in and around the site.  Below are some of those inscriptions, but also if you look closely at the top block, you can see what appears to be a swimming dolphin, and the head of Apollo?

As on the walls within the sanctuary at Delphi in ancient Greece, here too dedicatory inscriptions were written in the hope that Apollo would favor those who had them inscribed.  Pictured above and below are some of these beautifully detailed inscriptions that once adorned the well built marble sections of the sanctuary.  The large block at the bottom of this stack has a quite lengthy inscription filling its full face.

In the relief pictured below (on display at the Miletus Archaeological Museum), you can see the three-footed Delphic Tripod in the left of the sculpture, which is most closely related to Apollo, and the Delphic Oracle.  Next to the tripod is a laurel tree, as it was placed on the tripod when the oracle was not seated on it, but perhaps in the case of the Delphinium at Miletus, they burned laurel in the tripod.  Finally, a seated Apollo holds court over the proceedings, and passes judgement over mortal lives.


In the far distance of the photo below, Humei Tepe/Hill can be seen with the Humei Tepe Baths standing at her foot.  I did not explore these baths this time around, but will upon my return.  In the foreground of the photo, we see the Large Lion Harbor Monument, aka the Lion Harbor Hellenistic Heroon.  The harbor itself is now gone, the victim of centuries of silting, but would have met land just off to the left of this photo.

The row of columns on the stepped crepidoma in the left of photo below once supported the roofed entrance to a basilica type building dating to the Roman period 3-4C CE.  Some suspect that it may have been a synagogue, it often referred to as the Lion Harbor Stoa, though, an inscription on one of the columns states that Apollo Helios commanded the construction of an altar to Poseidon.  The circular Hellenistic Heroon can be seen in the right of the photo, and the harbors edge was once just the other side of this monument.

Dating of the Hellenistic Heroon puts its construction period between the early to middle 1C BCE.  Through historical records we can guess with regard to whom or for what it was erected, but we can't be certain.  One possibility is that it was dedicated to 

The three-stepped Hellenistic Heroon is believed to have once reached a height of around 18 meters, with four levels depicting a victory at sea.  Fragments recovered from the monument suggest, there was a tripod built on a monumental scale, that rose high atop lions, with lower level reliefs of tritons and dolphins at the bows of sailing ships.

Dating of the Hellenistic Heroon puts its construction period between the early to middle 1C BCE.  Through historical records we can guess with regard to whom or for what it was erected, but we can't be certain.  One possibility is that it was dedicated to the victory of the Milesian fleet led by a naval hero named Hegemon over pirates around 100 BCE.  Another possibility is a naval victory over the Pontic fleet of Marcus Varius during the Mithridatic War III in 73 BCE.  Yet another possibility is the Roman success of ridding the Eastern Mediterranean section of Asia Minor of pirates by general Pompeius in 63 BCE.

Though we may never know the true reason for the erection of the Lion Harbor Heroon, we do know that it was re-dedicated to Octavian Augustus for his victory at Actium in 31 BCE.  The photo below was taken during my first visit to Miletus in 2005.  Here, we are walking from Miletus to Didyma, but we did eventually hitch a ride the rest of the way.

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

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