Sunday, August 28, 2016

Euromos: the Strong and Beautiful

Photos by Jack A. Waldron
Kyromos or Hyromos (Hellenized as Euromos), mentioned in the 5C BC as a member of the Delian League (a collection of city states founded by Athens in order to confront the agressions of the Persians), was among 425 such city states, and obligated to pay six talents annually.  At that time, 4,200 (approximately) of those 1/3 inch size ancient Athenian silver coins (known as drachma), was equal to 1 talent.
Euromos in located 12 kilometers north of ancient Mylasa, and in ancient times was overshadowed by its neighbor.  The circumstances of the city over time are apparent due to the lack of completion of its magnificent monument, the temple of Zeus Lepsynos.
Though never completed, the temple of Zeus Lepsynos at Euromos is one of the best preserved temple monuments from ancient times.  Plans are currently underway to completely restore the 2nd C building, as there has been over the millennia a high rate of retention of its original building members at the site.
The hexastyle (meaning six columns at the front) peripteral (meaning, surrounded by columns, with ptera meaning colonnade) temple, has eleven columns along its length in the Corinthian order which are fluted, though the columns that face the hillside to the southeast are not fluted, most likely due to a lack of municipal funds during the building construction in the 2C AD.  Thus, the fluted columns bare inscriptions of dedication to the citizens who funded the work to help complete the project (see above and below).
The engraved plaques record the names of the wealthy citizens who gave funds to help fund the construction of the temple.  According to the inscriptions on the plaques:
"Five were presented by physican and magistrate Menecrates and his daughter Tryphaena, and seven by Leo Quintos, another magistrate." Akyaka.org
Pictured above, a fluted column with the dedicatory plaque for all to witness, while pictured below, two unfinished columns express the economic shortfalls the city must have faced during the construction, which according to assessments of the buildings ornamentation style, is thought to have taken place during the reign of Hadrian 117-138 AD.
The base of an exedra sits in situ on the city side of the temple (pictured above and below).  With its curved back, those who sat on the backed stone benches that followed the curve would have faced each other as they engaged in conversation.  Exedra were often placed in proximity to sacred sites, along sacred ways, or on the edge of an agora as at Priene, or perhaps of the front of a fountain, as at Hieropolis.
Next to the exedra, a large block sits on a podium, and appears to have once supported a statue.  Also in view are the unfinished steps of the temple.
Pictured above, a full view of the front of the temple, including the alter, placed in front of the temple axially with the cult statue that would have stood at the back of the cella or naos oriented toward it.
Clearly pictured above and below, the base or U-shaped box on which or within which the cult statue would have stood.
Pictured above, the temple of Zeus Lepsynos as it appears from hill where the theater is located.  Below, the theater is currently being excavated, with it cavea still some meters under ground level.
Pictured below, excavations at the theater have exposed an alter (which would have been used for sacrifice, ensuring a good outcome for the performance), and a badly damaged VIP theater seat.
Further excavations at the theater are revealing the various sections of the ancient build, which, like the temple, seem to have escaped extensive quarrying.
The area located southeast of the temple of Zeus Lepsynos is home to the south necropolis, where several sarcophagus are located, as well as a vaulted monumental tomb.
During the 2015 and 2016 cycling season, I was within the vicinity of Heraclea below Latmos several times.  Labraunda, which I visited in 2015 sits high in the foothills on the back side of Mt. Latmos, while Euromos is a mere twenty kilometers south.  I did visit Heraclea below Latmos in 2005, however, I'm not sure if I did justice to the wonderment of the site.  At that time I was using a film camera, and have yet to scan, post and document the site (as with all the other sites I visited in 2005).  Those sites will have to wait for a more convenient time to do all that work.  Pictured below, a visitor took my photo in front of the temple of Zeus Lepsynos.

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

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Mylasa: Capital of Ancient Caria

Photos by Jack A. Waldron
It is written that Arselis, a leader of Mylasa in Caria during the 7C BC, helped Gyges of Lydia gain the Lydian throne through contest, and as a reward was given the sacred golden Labrys, which was brought to Mylasa, and further, began the founding of the sanctuary of Labraunda, and the beginning of the cult of Labraundean Zeus, to whom a statue was erected within the sanctuary, and in whose hands the golden Labrys was held (pictured below, ornamented sacred golden Minoan Labrys from Crete, Heraclean Museum Crete).
The Gumuskesen Monumental Tomb sits in a park less than two kilometers up hill from the center of current day Milas.  On the day I visited, the sun was scorching hot, and not knowing exactly how far it was to the monument, I took a local bus, and then walked back from the monument.
The architecture of the Gumuskesen Monumental Tomb (pictured above and below) is most likely based on an ancient wonder of the world, the Tomb of Mausolus, in ancient Halicarnassus.  This structure dates to the 2C AD, and rises above a high rectangular grave chamber, which contains four pillars that support the floor of the upper story.
The monument is built atop a two step crepidoma, which supports an upper story colonnade of partially fluted square columns at each corner, and two partially fluted oval columns between each corner column.
Sketch of Gumuskesen Tomb at Milas 1866: "Architecture at Ahmedabad, the Capital of Goozerat, photographed by Colonel Briggs, … With an historical and descriptive sketch, by T. C. H., … and architectual notes by J. Fergusson, etc."
The orifices of the skull were often covered with gold leaf, while the sarcophagus would usually contain other memorable items related to the life the deceased.
The capitals are in the Corinthian style, and support a pyramidal roof formed of five layers of blocks that sit diagonally upon each layer and in turn is supported by the monuments architrave.
The ornate ornamented ceiling of the monument reflects on the wealth and standing of the family that commissioned it.  Though, perhaps on only about a 1/15 scale size of the Mausoleum of Halicarnassus, which was one the seven wonders of the ancient world, the Gumuskesen monumental tomb is a beautiful structure to behold.
Back in the city center, I walked over the infamous gate with the Labrys keystone (pictured below).  The gate was built at the end of the 1C AD.
On the outer side of the arch, the keystone is decorated with a Labrys, the sacred symbol of the Mylasa, and the greater area known in ancient times as Caria.  According to Plutach, the etymology of the word "labrys" originates from the Lydian word, meaning "axe".  Further, such symbols have been found at Neolithic site in Anotolia, and according to Aristotle, is thought to symbolize that which provides the conditions of the possibility for the thing to begin or come forth, it represents the "arche" in ancient Greek, the origin, the beginning.  
The city of current day Milas is built atop ancient Mylasa, and unfortunately, all of its ancient monuments (with the exception of the Gumuskesen monument) have been quarried for their blocks of stone and marble to the point that only trace remains can be seen.  The Temple of Augustus is one of the great losses to the city, since its nearly intact structure as of 1780 has been lost to the needs of human shortsightedness.  For, as with similar ancient structures that are still intact to this day, the revenue they generate from tourism is something a city can never replace.  As a great example, may the Michigan Theater in Detroit RIP: and further, help save Detroit's Grand Central Station, whose architecture is based on Hellenistic Baths.
"Milas Augustus (Uzunyuva) Tapinagi - 1780 Gravur Kaya Aile Kolleksiyonu"

Pictured above and below, one of the fine items on display at the Architectural Museum of Milas: a Kylix with dancing figures.

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