Photos by Jack A. Waldron
During the pinnacle of its Oracular influence over the ancient world, a period when the Mediterranean belonged to Rome, consultations from the Oracle of Apollo at Claros were sought from the reaches of empire, from Britain to Algeria, Dalmatia to Crete, advice on subjects such as love, harvests and other fortunes were prized. The sanctuary map/plan pictured below was taken by myself at the site, and as you can see, new signage is certainly needed. Though it's not easy to make out (I did my best to enhance the illustration, and I laid out bigger numbers), the numbering of the monuments is about as logical as they come, beginning from the South, we enter the site at the Propylon Gate, follow the sacred way to the Temple of Apollo, and then come back to the gate along the West edge of the sanctuary. That said, I begin the photos and article below at the Temple of Apollo.
The sanctuary map and monument list pictured above and below were taken by myself at the site, and as you can see, new signage is certainly needed. Though it's not easy to make out, I did my best to enhance the illustration, and I laid out bigger numbers. The numbering of the monuments is about as logical as they come, beginning from the South, we enter the site at the Propylon Gate, number 2, follow the sacred way along the East edge of the sanctuary to the Temple of Apollo, and then come back to the gate along the West edge of the sanctuary. That said, I begin the photos and article below at the Temple of Apollo, number 22.
The Sanctuary of Apollo Claros is located 2 kilometers north of ancient Notion, and 13 kilometers south of ancient Colophon. The sanctuary was established following migrations to these lands, the first, according to ancient texts was through the colonization by the Achaean people in this land of Colophon, while another was by Cretans, and still a third by Thebans, who as slaves following the defeat of Thebes were given the prospect to emigrate and settle in Asia.
Pictured below to the right of the Menippos honorary (column) monument, we see the crepidoma rising to the base drums of the Doric Temple of Apollo Clarios. It is believed that the first personal consultation by the oracle at Claros was given to Alexander the Great, who was advised to build a fortress on Pagos hill, which would situated above a new city settled by residents of nearby old Smyrna. The oracle of Claros also gained notoriety through a consultation given to the adopted son of the Roman emperor Tiberius, Germanicus, who was prophesied to meet an early death, which he did within a year at the age of 34 in the Syrian city of Antioch.
This Hellenistic temple is comprised of 6 columns in front and back, and 11 columns on each side. It is one of the few Doric temples built in Ionia, with its construction taking place from the 3rd - 2nd century BC.
The complex as a whole is very well preserved, which is probably due to the fact that it sits well below the water table, and is flooded most of the year, which allowed several meters of silt to cover and preserve the site over the millennia.
As mentioned above, the Temple of Apollo Clarios was under construction from the 4th to the 2nd century BC, and further, according to Pausanius, the structure remained unfinished 40 years after the death of the emperor Hadrian, who was a benefactor of the temple.
Pictured above, a view from the front left corner along the south side of the building toward the back, while below, a view of the front of the temple from the same vantage point.
According to Apollodorus of Athens, as the heroes of the Trojan War journeyed home, one mythical seer named Calchas would meet his fate in the country of Colophon. As foretold by an oracle consulted by Calchas, he would die when he met a seer who was better than himself. It was the seer Mopsus of Colophon, the son of Apollo and Manto, who could not be matched by Calchas, thus sealing his fate; and so it was recorded by the geographer and historian Strabo, that at the location of Claros, Calchas died, and it was here that an oracular sanctuary would be established.
On the higher ground behind the temple in a glass case, there is a model of the structure with some fine detail. This offers a visitor a good idea of how the temple looked during its prime (pictured below).
The model of the Temple of Apollo Clarios offers a great insight with regard to the cella (pictured above and below).
As you can see here, upon entering the temple, one proceeds down below the floor level and enters the front adyton, which is believed to have been a waiting room for those who sought prophecy (pictured blow).
Pictured below, the column bases across the front of the temple can be seen at the top of the photo, while the entrance to the front adyton descends below the stylobate.
Portions of the stylobate blocks once covering the cella floor and concealing the adytons are now either missing or lay at the bottom of the substructure. The supporting arches can be seen in the upper left corner in the photo above.
Whether the cella floor blocks were quarried or have simply fallen into the front and back adyton I do not know; I say this because both adyton rooms are completely full of water, however, the missing blocks do open up a perspective on rooms that once accommodated the exchange of prophecy for patronage.
Pictured above, a view of the cella from the front right corner of the stylobate. Overlooking the temple from the hill beyond are the reconstructed colossal statues of Artemis, the sister of Apollo, and his mother, Leto, who once stood in the cella of the temple on either side of an eight meter high seated Apollo.
Pictured above, a stepped entrance down into the now flooded and sediment filled adytons, this being the right side entrance, as there are two, one on either side of the temple. These side entrances to the adytons lead to a subterranean corridor crossing through the middle of the temple that intersect a central corridor running front to back, which allows access between the front and rear adytons.
Pictured above, a view west from the right side of the temple showing the side-to-side corridor that connects the two side entrances. The people in the photo are the archeologists who are excavating the site.
Pictured above, the stepped entrance to the side-to-side corridor that intersects with the central corridor, which can be seen at the top of the photo coming into view from the front of the temple.
Pictured above and below, the side entrance at the back left side of the temple leading into the rear adyton, which was most likely the entrance used by the oracle.
Whether the oracle would meet face to face with the consultant is not known for sure, but, according to E. Fascher in his 1927 book, 'ΠΡΟΦΗΤΗΣ' (Prophet), he suggests that a 'θεσπιῳδός' (oracular singer) would deliver the prophecy through a Homeric style of recompositional poetic rhapsodic delivery, as was the ancient tradition of story telling.
Pictured above, a view of the rear vaulted adyton, the arches of which once supported the cella floor above. Here, the oracle might have sung a prophecy, while the patron, either sleeping or listening awake in the front adyton, would hear the poetic or prophetic words in an eery rhapsodic voice echoing through the subterranean chambers.
Pictured above, two fluted columns of the Temple of Apollo Clarios lay in situ, as they have for two-thousand years. Below, a lion spout relief on a section of the sima from the temple.
Pictured below, a section of the architrave of the Temple of Apollo Clarios with the Menippos honorary (column) monument in the top left of the photo, and the temple to its right.
The inscription on a section of the architrave of the Temple of Apollo Clarios identifies the monument (pictured above and below).
Yet another section of the architrave from the Temple of Apollo Clarios (pictured above and below), sits atop two of the Doric capitals from the building, and with a triglyph section of the frieze resting on the architrave. Also, notice the regulae/guttae reliefs under the top lip of the architrave.
Pictured below, a view of the front of the temple from the right side. As you can see, the water table at the site makes excavation work a constant battle, and also shows that the ancient spring still flows.
Returning now to the front of temple, on display at its front left corner is the Menippos honorary (column) monument with the finely inscribed relief recording the honor. Dedicated to Menippos of Colophon, a bronze statue gilded in gold once stood atop the Ionic column, which is dated to 100 BC.
The work done by Menippos on behalf of the citizens of Colophon are know through lengthy inscriptions found at ancient Claros and Colophon.
It is know in detail when and why he made several trips to Rome in order to represent Colophon in its attempts to retain a semblance if independence from Roman rule, and to preserve its boarders.
The inscription reads:
'The people crowns Menippos son of Apollonides, by birth son of Eumedes, with a crown of gold and a golden statue, who is our benefactor and zealous concerning the state and virtuous, and who led his fatherland in critical times.'
Following the sacred road away from the Temple of Apollo Clarios toward the propylon at entrance to the site, there are the remains a well preserved exedra known as the Exedra of Roman Magistrates (pictured above, with the Menippos column in the background, and below).
Continuing along the sacred road, standing next to the Exedra of Roman Magistrates is a tall Corinthian column dedicated to Sextus Appuleius, son of Octavia, step brother to the emperor Augustus, and proconsul of Asia (pictured below).
The inscription reads:
'People honors Sextus Appuleius who is the founder of the city and is elected as proconsul for the second time.'
The Sacred Road to the Temple of Apollo Clarios runs in front of the square honorary monuments of the Flaccus Family (pictured in the forefront below), and that of L. Valerius Flaccus (middle right, before the column of Sextus Appuleius), and continues behind the honorary column of Sextus Appueius.
The Kouros and Kore statues dating from the archaic period pictured above and below were discovered along the Sacred Road that connected Claros with Notion (Colophon-at-the-sea), and are on display at the Izmir Archeological Museum.
Again, the honorary monuments of the Flaccus Family (pictured in the forefront below), and that of L. Valerius Flaccus (middle right, before the column of Sextus Appuleius), with the honorary columns of Sextus Appueius and Menippus in the distance (pictured below). Behind these monuments where the water pool sits is section of the Late Archaic Period Sacred Road.
Pictured below, looking toward the entrance to the ancient site (not in view off to the left), we see the Honorary Monument of Licinius Lucullus, and Building B. Again, the Late Archaic Period Sacred Road runs behind these monuments beneath the pool of water.
Standing outside the Propylon, or entrance gate to the sanctuary (half of which can be seen in the right side of the photo below), we see to its left the Katagogeion, which was a building (or hotel) for visitors who sought consultations with the oracle.
Pictured above, a view over the Katagogeion, with the complete Propylon in the middle of the photo. Below, a direct view through the columns of the Propylon gate with the sanctuary seen beyond.
If you look closely at the column pictured below, you will notice an inscription which honors Polemaios of Colophon. There are a total of four Ionic drums with dedicatory inscriptions to Polemaios.
Pictured above, another view of the Propylon gate, with an honorary column dedicated to Polemaios rising in the distance. Below, an excellently well preserved exedra is pictured in the foreground, with the Propylon next to it in the sunlight.
Though there is an inscription within the rectangular portion of the exedra just behind the lion claw ornamentation, I have not been able to find a translation (pictured below).
I think this is the most well preserved exedra I have seen in all my visits to ancient sites, and it still amazes me that such antiquities can survive thousands of years without being molested.
Entering back into the sanctuary through the Propylon Gate, we encounter exhibits 4, 5, 6 and 7 along the Hellenistic Road on the east side of the sanctuary. Unfortunately, I neglected to see the significance of these fragments, thus I failed to get a photo of them, but, they can be seen in the center of the picture below in the distance, just beyond the Propylon Gate.
Number 4 of these fragments is a Perirrhanteria (or, Perirrhanterion), which is illustrated below (this illustration is of the Perirrhanterion of Isthmos in Greece).
A perirrhanterion is a large basin made from marble, stone or clay, which was used for ritual purification through the sprinkling of its water, and was usually placed at the entrance to sanctuaries, in front of temples, and places of cult worship. This is very similar to the holy water stoups found at the entrances of catholic churches.
Continuing on, there are several fluted columns (pictured above), however, information on which monument they belong to was not provided. Now deep into the sanctuary along the Hellenistic Road, we come to a group of monuments numbered 18, 19, 20 and 21 (pictured below).
Among this group of monuments are several Hellenistic dedicatory bases with inscriptions.
Pictured above and below, a few of the Hellenistic bases with dedicatory inscriptions (I am still searching for the translations).
Also among this group is number 20, the Small Exedra, but we do not have any information on from who or for whom it was dedicated (pictured below).
There is also a finely crafted Proedra, or, protocol seat within this group (number 20, pictured below). The proedra pictured below at the site is a reproduction of the original, which is on display at the Izmir Archeological Museum (pictured further below with the red background).
Pictured below, the original Proedra (number 21) from Claros, on display at the Izmir Archeological Museum.
Finally, we arrive back in front of the Temple of Apollo Clarios. Here, some 27 meters in front of the temple sits the Monumental Altar of Apollo Clarios (pictured above and below).
Between the Monumental Altar and the Temple of Apollo Clarios itself were found numerous large blocks uniformly separated. As can be seen in the model below, these blocks were used to secure animals awaiting sacrifice upon the altar.
The steps of the Monumental Altar of Apollo Clarios (pictured below) once ran red with blood of sacrifices to the god and goddesses of the temple, Artemis, the sister of Apollo, Apollo, and his mother, Leto.
Sitting next to the Monumental Altar is a dedicatory Sundial sculpted out of marble (pictured below).
Now, moving around to the north side of the Temple of Apollo Clarios, we find a large Hellenistic dedicatory base, and just next to it, another small Exedra (pictured above). Pictured below, what is thought to be a Hellenistic building dedicated to Artemis.
Standing on a rise above the Temple of Apollo are the monumental statues of Artemis and Leto, both of which stood with the statue of Apollo in the temple cella during ancient times (pictured below).
Pieces of the three monumental statues of Apollo, Artemis and Leto were found in the substructure of the Temple of Apollo, having collapsed through the cella floor.
However, as you can see from the photos, there are obviously more than three monumental statues on site, and I admit, my trained eye is not informed enough to designate them all, or where they were positioned in ancient times.
Found broken in the adyton of the temple, the monumental statue of Apollo stood 7.5 meters high, and along with the statues of Artemis and Leto, which were also of monumental proportions, must have made quite an impression on those who came to seek prophecy within the sacred temple.
Pictured above and below, the foot of what I believe to be part of the monumental statue of Apollo. Since so much of the site remains to be fully excavated, new discoveries are undesignated and await a permanent home. I prophecy a time when such pieces are reconnected and stand safely in a museum at the site.
As Homer is probably the most famous Poet in Western History due to his carrying on of the tradition of reciting lengthy epic poems in order to pass on the values, ethics and morals learned by past generations; and, he being the scribe of record of two of these most epic of poems, and since this traditional recitation style was practiced by the oracles of Claros in their prophetic recitations to those who sought council, it is not surprising that his sculpted image would be on prominent display within the sanctuary of Claros (pictured below, on display at the Izmir Archeological Museum).
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