Sunday, November 27, 2016

Lagina: Sanctuary of Hecate

Photos by Jack A. Waldron

After spending the day at ancient Stratoniceia, which is located about 9 kilometers SW of ancient Lagina, I cycled from the main road up into the hills to the site, which sits about a kilometer outside of the village of Turgut.  After picking up a couple of beers in the village, I retraced my tracks back to the site.  The shadows were growing long, and the site would be closed shortly, so, as I road toward the entrance I search for a suitable campsite.  As I knew it would be impossible to camp at the site, because the security guards forbid it, I was hoping they had already left for the night.  But, no luck.  After some wrangling about not letting me pitch my tent in a perfectly flat grassy area just off the site (but everywhere is the site), I started back up the road.  As I climbed road back, I noticed a huge round stone-lined pond on the side of the road.  There were a couple of small houses here and there, and the edges of the pond were littered with wine bottles and beer cans amongst other various trash heaps.  So, here I pitched my tent, and would do the good deed of collecting and piling up the trash in one big heap on the opposite side of the road.  Some 30 minutes later, the security guard comes marching up the road, and seemed to have a problem with my campsite, but, since I don't speak Turkish, and it was now nearly dark, he let me be.  As I drank my beer on the edge of the pond, I noticed some marble blocks that I recognized to be ancient, and then, I noticed on the pond floor, a fluted column.  It would appear that I had camped right on the edge of an ancient reservoir.  This spring fed pond was flowing heavily with clear fresh water even now, and was used in ancient times to supply water to Lagina, which lay 150 meters down the slope.  Unfortunately, I didn't take a picture of the pond, but below is an illustration from the TAY site.
Thought to be formerly known as Hierakome (inscription found at site), or perhaps Coarenda (inscription presumably from site), the name Lagina is not found on any inscriptions from the site.  The Carian theocratic city-state, and most important sanctuary of Hecate in the ancient world, was served by eunuchs, and lay in the precinct of Stratoniceia (whose patron was Hecate, the eminent tri-goddess, the wise elder), which is linked via a sacred way that would bring the nearby citizens to the various festivals held within the theocratic city-state.  Pictured below is a Roman copy of a Hellenistic sculpture of Hecate, which is on display at the Vatican Chiaramonti Museum.
Lucius Apuleius (123 -170 AD) in his work The Golden Ass writes of the mythical association of Hecate with the Egyptian figure of Isis:
 “I am she that is the natural mother of all things, mistress and governess of all the elements, the initial progeny of worlds, chief of powers divine, Queen of heaven, the principal of the Gods celestial, the light of the goddesses: at my will the planets of the air, the wholesome winds of the Seas, and the silences of hell be disposed; my name, my divinity is adored throughout all the world in divers manners, in variable customs and in many names, [...] Some call me Juno, others Bellona of the Battles, and still others Hecate. Principally the Ethiopians which dwell in the Orient, and the Egyptians which are excellent in all kind of ancient doctrine, and by their proper ceremonies accustomed to worship me, do call me Queen Isis. [...]”
Hecate, or the Triple Goddess, Moon Goddesses, is usually depicted in both sculpture and drawing as a three bodied goddess, or three headed goddess, representative of Artemis - the Maiden, the virgin goddess of the hunt, Selene - the Mother, the mother of Endymion's children, and she loved him, and Hecate - the Crone, associated with the underworld and magic, the "Queen of Witches".
Votive statuettes, such as the large one of Hecate pictured above, and the small one featured in the same photo, would have been placed at temple sites, or other sacred monument in order to gain the favor of the goddesses.
The semi-circular Propylon pictured above would greet the pilgrims upon their arrival, and invite them to enter the sacred sanctuary of Hecate.  The Propylon is a prostyle structure in the Ionic order, with a tripylon in antis to the east.
As can be seen in the photo below, the silt has accumulated to a height of several meters of the millennia.  Presumably, the Sacred Way that connects with Stratoniceia is intact and awaits excavation; and further, if the Sacred Way between these two cities is alike other such sacred ways, there are sure to be treasures yet to be unearthed.
During the annual Hekatesia festival, a young girl would be designated the Key Bearer, and would deliver the key of the Temple of Hecate to the Bouleutarian in Stratoniceia, accompanied by a procession of eunuchs, the priest (or later a priestess), the neokoros and the president of the mysteries.  This was just one of the many festivals at the site, which date back to the 7C BC.
Pictured above, a look at the sanctuary through the Propylon Gate.  Below, a staircase descends into the massive complex of stoas that surround the sanctuary and lay at distance of up to 135-150 meters from the Temple of Hecate.
An arial view of the Propylon gate shows the beauty of its architectural design, and also most interesting, how monuments or decrees were often incorporated into such areas at later dates, such as the one pictured exclusively below, with its inscription ready for new arrivals to read.
Inscriptions at the gate refer to "three stoas in the sacred house", a market providing foods and stuffs to travelers or pilgrims; an indication of a sacred tree grove of the eunuchs, and an inscription forbidding the pasturization of flocks of animals within the sanctuary.
Pictured above, a close-up of some of the inscriptions that are written on the monument just inside the Propylon Gate.  Below, a view of the monument in full, including the feet of its pedestal.
The Grand and Monumental Alter of Hacate at Lagina sits just inside the Propylon Gate to the east, and south of the Temple of Hecate (pictured below).  While unsure if the Altar is in congruence with the Temple of Hicate, they do appear to be suspiciously on the same axis.  The Monumental Altar had an exterior colonnade in the Corinthian order, and an interior colonnade in the Ionic order.
The illustration above shows the monumental scale of the Altar, with its importance and placement, a grand staircase leads to a paved road the connects with the Temple of Hecate (see photos below).
As if to separate, divide and conquer the gods of the past, and in this case the power Hecate, a Byzantine christian church was erected on the pavement in the space between the Altar and Temple of Hecate.  Pictured below, a frontal view of the Temple of Hecate as seen from the Monumental Altar.
The pseudo-dipteral plan of the Temple of Hecate is in the Corinthian order of 8x11, consisting of a pronaos and naos.  Below, an archeological survey of the Temple of Hecate carried out between 2006-2008 by Tirpan-Sogut:
A comprehensive research was done inside the temple of Hekate in 2006 ; a restitution offer was prepared based on the building blocks that were revealed. The relation of the temple which was built in Corinthian order was researched in comparison with the buildings that were previously built in order to identify its status within the Hellenistic architecture. The model of Vitruvius was accepted as a basis for the starting point. The measurement tables for each building element were constituted within the limits of this research starting from the lower building; and all the sample building elements were drawn. It was found that the number 6 which was known as the perfect number by the mathematicians of the ancient period was used as a module; and the multiples of the number of 6 was utilized to determine the measurements of the building. The temple demonstrates novelties that are only specific to itself in terms of the proportions that were applied from the euthynteria level up to the upper level building elements. The proportion of the Euthynteria to the stylobat is the only example known in Anatolia with 8x11 columns. The proportions of the Corintihian order building elements were determined taking into consideration the lower diameter of the columns. It was found that the column height was increased compared to the structures of the 3rd century BC; the proportion of the kickplate width to the pedestal height was decreased. When the Hellenistic period buildings built before; and the Roman period buildings that were built after are considered the Temple of Hekate constitutes an example to the transition period architecture. Therefore the mathematical proportions identified inside the temple may be valid for the Late Hellenistic period Corinthian order as well [Tirpan-Sögüt (Büyüközer; A.) 2008:388-390]. The architrave blocks were also researched and categorized on ornamentation basis during the find database studies of the temple in 2006. 96 architrave blocks were found during the researches performed; 72 of those were complete; 24 were fragments close to or smaller than half. The Ionic kymation ornamentations on the architrave crown profiles consist of 5 types. The anthemion ornamentations were also categorized under 5 main groups. The presence of differentiation of the workmanship and the differences deriving from different periods were found on the decorations on the blocks. These tell us that the architrave decorations were made by different persons and it took a long time to complete them. This process probably lasted between the end of the 2nd century BC; until Augustus period [Tirpan-Sögüt (Aslan; H.) 2008:390-391].
Now on display in the Istanbul Archeological Museum, the frieze of the Temple of Hecate circumnavigated the temple with the goddess herself being an underlying theme in the depictions, such as a scene representing the birth of Zeus, reconciliation between Greeks and Amazons, battles of gods and giants, men preparing for war, and figures that appear to represent the deities of various Carian cities.
Upon entering the Temple of Hecate, I was greeted be a representation of the goddess herself, this massive snake skin warned of the darker possibilities that may await those who not tread lightly on sacred ground.  Throughout my visit, a found no less than four snake skins laying between the blocks of the temple, the one below being the largest of them.
The fluted columns of the temple have been numbered, and hopefully in the future they will be re-erected back within the colonnade of the temple.
Pictured above, the west pediment is in a fine state of preservation, along with many of the temple members, such as the door jam/frame pictured further down.
The Stoas with their grand stepped colonnades in the Doric order surround the temple precinct in an area of 135-150 meters.  At the south end a flight of 11 steps climb to an upper level.
Monuments, dedications and exedras can be found throughout the grounds, such as the lion clawed platform below, which features an inscription that is incomplete due to the repurposing of the two end blocks that once completed monument.
Perhaps pried from its hold, a bronze dedication plaque, shield or garland might have adorned this monument, which is now left with a gaping wound in its belly.
The grand scale of the stoas at Lagina are very impressive, and remind me of the stoas in the agora under the Acropolis at Athens.

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

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  1. Hi, there. We live in Muğla and plan to organise a festival to introduce Turgut area where one of the most important Pagan place, Lagina is. We would love to see a few members from your group as well. Would you be interested?

  2. Hi there Zeynep!! I am so sorry that missed your message. What is your festival? When do you hold it. I think it would absolutely amazing to walk the complete sacred way from Stratoniceia to Lagina as part of your festival!! This could be an annual event, and the procession could be utilized as a clean-up/preservation mission for the sacred way.

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  3. Thank you so much. Im Tourist guide student in Mersin Univercity/Turkey
    you text was so usefull for me in adition that I am glad to some traveller from abroad like you visited there :) See you again!


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