Thursday, November 28, 2019

Teos: Artists of Dionysus

Photos by Jack A. Waldron

I've cycled well into the tens of thousands of kilometers here in Turkey, and I've camped where things go bump and snort in the night, but until this day just south of Ildir (ancient Erythrai), I had never seen the very elusive wild boar.  Sadly, these two were struck down in the early morning.
It's not that these animals aren't everywhere, because they are, in massive numbers, simply everywhere, but they can only be seen from the late evening to the early morning, and that's when this cyclist is hunkered down in his tent.  These two were obviously trying to cross the road during the night, when a vehicle hit them.  Just after I snapped these photos, a garbage truck came to haul them away.
The prior evening, I had set-up camp about one kilometer from ancient Teos, along a beautifully wooded forest just outside Sigacik, and in keeping with ancient legends and historical events related with the ancient city, a Dionysian music revival beckoned from the dark hollows amongst the pines.  As I lay in my tent enjoying a beer I had kept on ice all day, I noticed some deep sax creeping into my earphones just under the vocals of Rusty Day and the Amboy Dukes.  I took out my earphones, and to my surprise I could hear the soft winds carrying a saxophone spinning Roland Kirk through the trees, and it was brilliant!
I got dressed, got my flashlight, and headed out into the pitch black darkness . . . boars and all.  If you look at the aerial photo above, there is a forest where the map reads 'NEKROPOL', and that is where I was camped (the upper left corner of the city map pictured below).
To make a long evening short, I met Ali Cenk and his wife, and a whole musical crew that were blowing out jazz and rock classics at a restaurant about three-hundred meters from where I was camped.  It was so unexpected, because the whole area is covered in forest, and I had passed the site earlier in the late afternoon, but it was so inconspicuous, there wasn't a hint of what was to come.  It was a blowout!!  PS. Ali, cheers for the beers . . . , I will repay you on my future sailboat when I dock at Izmir!
If you've read the history of Teos above, you understand that Teos was founded by immigrants from Orchomenus in Thessaly, and though this connection has been established, there is a deeper cultural story to be told here, and further, this story is very much related to my experience on the evening of my arrival.
Being a major Lydian city, Teos was a member of the Ionian League according to Herodotus, but there is something that has made an even more impressionable mark on its legacy; ancient Teos was home to one of the major guilds of artists known as the Artists of Dionysus.  This guild of artists formed their powerful collective from the 3C BC on, and consisted of traveling Greek actors and musicians chiefly from the cities of Teos in Ionia, Alexandria in Egypt, Athens, Thebes, Argos, Nemea and Isthmus.  The demand and popularity of Attic-style performances gave these members the benefits of avoiding taxes, exemption from military service, and the right to travel freely.  They acted as citizens of an independent state, with their own priests dedicated to Dionysus, ambassadors, civil officers and lay judges.  They performed at major festivals around the Mediterranean, and sometimes butted heads with the conservative boundaries of so-called civil society.
At some point, the Teians had reached their limit with regard to the arrogance and behavior of the artists, and eventually forced the relocation of the guild to Ephesus.  No more the tolerable, the Ephesians would also lose patience, and relocated the collective to a most inhospitable minor city known as Myonnesus, which is not to distant from Teos.  Eventually, the artist collective was to settle in Lebedus, a site located halfway between Myonnesus and ancient Notion, yet none the more major.
Though the Artists of Dionysus did not collectivize until the 3C BC, and the Temple of Dionysus (pictured above and below) was not built until around 130 BC, there did exist one Teian artist who may have been the inspiration behind the fostering of artists within the city, that being none other than Anacreon 570-485BC, who is considered to be the last of the great poets of the lyric tradition, with infamous compositions on love, music, infatuation, disappointment and the arts in general, as can be experienced in the following piece, as translated by Walter Headlam in the 19th century:

Ah tell me why you turn and fly, 
My little Thracian filly shy? 
Why turn askance 
That cruel glance, 
And think that such a dunce am I? 
O I am blessed with ample wit 
To fix the bridle and the bit, 
And make thee bend 
Each turning-end 
In harness all the course of it. 
But now `tis yet the meadow free 
And frisking it with merry glee; 
The master yet 
Has not been met  
To mount the car and manage thee.

Other famous citizens of some note, there is Hecateus the historian, the geographer Andron, Protagorus the sophist, and two more poet laureates, Antimachus and Scythinus.
The Temple of Dionysus was designed in the Ionian style and is believed to be an early work by the well known architect Hermogenes of Priene.  
It is a peripteros structure with six columns on its front and back, and eleven along its sides, which rise from a stylobate measuring 18.5m x 35m (pictured in the distance above).  
Not illustrated well in the sketches below, the pronaos was larger than typical, with the opisthodomos being smaller, and further, the temenos or sacred enclosure is trapezoidal in design.
The Temple has seen some efforts at modern restoration, unfortunate as one can clearly see, the bases under the columns are constructed from concrete, and must obviously be replaced with matching material.  There is however, some exciting news with regard to the temple being published in Turkish news reports.
The Seferihisar municipality announced in 2018 that the Temple of Dionysus will be restored.  According to reports, the Seferihisar Municipality and the Izmir City Cultural Directorate have received a grant for the erection of the temple.  This is great news, and I hope that more such projects will take place in the future.  However, as mentioned above, one major concern is the techniques used in the restoration.  The concrete used in previous restoration attempts must be removed, and new matching materials used to form new members.
The site lay in what appears to be a complete state of chaos, but hopefully, many of the pieces to this puzzle are in situ, meaning, they are in the place that they originally landed when the temple was toppled.
The relief work on the building members can be examined closely at the site, and one can feel the exquisite precision and detail that adorns the structure (pictured above and below).
Notice in the photo below, the iron camps that have held the stylobate blocks tight and in position for millennia.  We know that the building was restored during the reign of Hadrian, whose name with regard to the funding of new constructions and restorations, leaves his mark in ancient cities throughout the whole of the Mediterranean.
On display at the Izmir Archeological Museum, is the nearly complete frieze of the Temple of Dionysus at Teos (pictured below).  Unfortunate, I was a bit lazy in my photography, and failed to shot each individual frieze member, so, yet another location I must revisit in order to complete the job at hand.
The frieze members I did shoot squarely were those on display within the museum, and are pictured here.  Above, a drunken Centaur appears to be fondling one of the young boys at the wedding of King Piritous prior to their lusty attempts to abduct the young lads.  Below, a pair of lipithians battle a Centaur because of their obscene abuses at the wedding of King Pirithous, who was marrying Hippodameia, the daughter of Oenomaus.  This battle is known as the Centauromachy, and is depicted in the reliefs of Hellenistic structures throughout the Mediterranean.
The frieze also depicts a Dionysian procession, with flutists, dancers and actors on their way to festivities where drinking, eating, and more lascivious behavior may be undertaken (pictured above and below).
The Temple of Dionysus at Teos displays architectural styles of both the Hellenistic and Roman periods, and this is due in part to its reconstruction following an earthquake in 14BC during the reign of Augustus, who saw that the temple received funds following its partial destruction.
The sketch above by Charles Texier shows the state of the Temple of Dionysus as his 19th century expedition found it, no doubt having succumb to numerous earthquakes over the millennia.  Pictured below, some sorting and numbering of the temple members has been done, and there is reason for hope that the structure will see renewed focus.
As previously mentioned, Anacreon the poet is probably the most famous citizen of Teos, however, there are other notable names that have left their mark on the cites history, such as Apellicon, who played a major roll in the preservation of the works of Aristotle.
The story of Apellicon goes something like this; being a lover of books, and a collector of some renown, he purchased a horde of rare manuscripts from the family of Neleus of Scepsis, who resided in the Troad, not surprisingly, where the city of Assos is located, and, where Aristotle once lived.  Among the rare manuscripts were also the writings of Theophrastus of Eresos in Lesbos, the island of which can be seen from Assos, and where Aristotle wrote many of his treatises on biology.  Aristotle bequeathed his writings to Theophrastus, who took over leadership of the Lyceum in Athens upon his death.  Neleus had been a student Theophrastus, most noted for his treatises on the characters of man.  
To continue, the rare manuscripts were in a poor state of condition due to the fact that they had been hidden in less than favorable conditions in order to keep them out of the hands of the princes of Pergamon, a city known for its library collection, as well as it private collectors.  So, Apellicon attempted to re-write the manuscripts, and though they have helped to fill in various aspects of Aristotle's works, they've had to viewed with a very careful insight with regard to the philosophers' intent.
Leaving the Temple of Dionysus (pictured above), the path takes the visitor on lengthy jaunt across a long flat field through a hedge of trees that opens up to the back of a large stone structure, which is in fact the Bouleuterion (the front of which is pictured below).  This frontal view of one of the most well preserved Bouleuterions of the ancient world is quite astounding.  Of the famous citizens mentioned above, it is very likely that a few of them would have had the opportunity to speak to the city council on this very spot.
In ancient times, the structure would have looked like the illustration shown below.  With the remarkable preservation of this building, it is not to difficult to reconstruct it in ones mind.

In the picture below, we are presented with the wall on the left side of the building, which is the same wall facing to the left in the illustration above.
I can picture the day when along with the Temple of Dionysus, the Bouleuterion is also restored.  The inner chamber retains its full cavea, with four cunel and 13 rows of seating.
Pictured below, an extremely well preserved euthynteria zigzags through the center of the photo outlining the rectangular shape of the raised podium.  Very sadly, if you look at the bottom right corner of the photo, you can see that the corner of the euthynteria had been broken off, in this case, from a massive block (pictured in the bottom left of the photo), which had been purposefully pushed over from above by some mindless visitor.  I informed a very alarmed lead archeologist when I arrived back at the site entrance.
With most of the outer wall blocks remaining on site, it is very likely that the restoration will be compete in the not too distant future.  Also, as can be seen in the illustrations of the Bouleuterion, the upper structure of the building was of wood construction, so I see a magnificent future for this monument.
Pictured above and illustrated below, the left side entrance to the inner chamber of the Bouleuterion.
Pictured above and illustrated below, the right side entrance to the inner chamber of the Bouleuterion.
Pictured above, a view of the complete cavea, the orchestra with numerous structural blocks laid out in front of the podium, and the front wall of the building.
Pictured above, a view of the front wall and right side door entrance to the structure, and illustrated below, the front of the building showing the two entrances to the inner chamber of the Bouleuterion.
The lion head decorated sima pictured below was photographed near the Agora, which is a stones throw toward the harbor from bouleuterion.
Pictured above, we can clearly make out the shape or base of what appears to be an in antis type temple, such as the plan shown below.
The large flat area located between the temple and the bouleuterion is the Agora, pictured below beyond the temple in antis.
Though the building members of this temple have most likely been quarried over the millennia for use in other structures, there are enough decorative pieces on the site to gain a perspective of what this monument looked like.
Here we have a large fragment of a Corinthian capital, which may have capped one of the two square ante columns located on both sides of the front outside walls.
Pictured below, a section of an elaborately decorated architrave lay near the temple.
Unfortunately, I was not aware upon my visit of the extensive ancient harbor wall located just beyond a thicket ladened berm not far from the temple in antis.  Therefore, when I sail near Teos at some point in the future, we will return in order to photograph the ancient harbor.  Further, there is yet another temple located somewhere on the acropolis above the theater, which I also failed to investigate, and, there are portions of the ancient city wall north of the acropolis.  Thus, the last stop on my tour of the city was the ancient Theater (pictured below).
Though this ancient theater lay in a pretty poor state, with the never slumping tourism of the area, this building must rank high on the list of monuments to be reconstructed, and used for performances, such as theaters at Aspendos or Ephesus.
The idea of reconstruction however, is a dilemma debated in numerous online forums.  I viewed the ancient theater at Kos for example, before it was restored, and then returned several years later to find a monument that had lost its quaintness of antique aesthetic.
Pictured above, the cavea with the upper portion of seating missing.  Notice the arched entrance passages at the foot of the upper cavea.  This is a massive theater that once sat approximately 5500 spectators.
Pictured above, the left side entrance to the lower cavea seating.  Below, the orchestra strewn with building members, and the stage building in a decent state of preservation, minus the wooden stage that it once supported.
The area in front of the Theater acts as a depot for various decorative blocks, columns, stele, and what not (pictured below).
A Corinthian capital meets its base support, with column gone array, these members were most likely part of the Theater.
The relief pieces pictured below used to be located in front of the Theater, but are no longer there.  There is a story behind them, but I was not able to photograph these reliefs at any of the museums I visited.  I will continue the search.
Pictured below, the Antiochus III Inscription found at Teos on display at the Archeological Museum in Izmir.
Pictured below, a Krater from the late geometric period found at Teos.  Such finds have dated the occupation of the site to around 3000 BC.
Pictured below, the Pirates Inscription found at Teos on display at the Izmir Archeological Museum.
Pictured below, a close-up shot of the Pirates Inscription.
As I followed the walkway toward the entrance to the site, the massive block you see below caught my attention.
I could see that it was most likely used as a juicer for grapes of olive oil gatherer in past millennia, but upon closer inspection I could see that this was an ornately decorated architrave from an ancient building.  It is interesting how priorities change with the times.

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

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2 comments:

  1. I want to to thank you for this good read!! I definitely enjoyed every little bit of it. I've got you book-marked to look at new stuff you post…
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    1. Cheers! I enjoy learning about these ancient sites as I write about them. There are tens of thousands of ancient sites in Turkey alone, big and tiny, and I will try to visit as many as I can with the time I have left. Thanks Again!

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