Wednesday, March 11, 2020

Mausoleum of Belevi

Photos by Jack A. Waldron

The day after I arrived in Selcuk, which is only a kilometer from the famous tourist site of ancient Ephasus, I took a 14 kilometer excursion to the Belevi Mausoleum.  Though the signs point the way from the main road, few visitors explore this magnificent site.  
As a matter of fact, upon my visit I was forced to climb over the locked gate and fence in order to photograph the remains of the monument.
The aerial picture above was taken from the visitor information board at the site, and as you can see, the building members are numerous, and have been numbered, categorized, logged and laid out for future partial restoration.
After the Mausoleum of Halicarnassus, which was one of the ancient seven wonders of the world (from where we derive the word 'mausoleum' as it was built for the Hecatomnid ruler of Caria, Mausolus), the Mausoleum of Belevi is considered a close second in its size and beauty of sculpture and decoration.
The Hellenistic Mausoleum of Belevi may have been the burial tomb of Antigonus Monophthalmus, who lived from 323 - 301BC, or, Lysimachus, who lived from 323 - 281BC.
There are also indications that the tomb may have been utilized as the burial place for Antiochus II Theos, the Seleucid king who lived from 261 - 246BC.
Pictured below, one set of the remaining Lion-Griffin sculptures from the Mausoleum of Belevi (Izmir Archeological Museum).  It may be due to the remote location of the mausoleum that allowed its building members and sculptures to be buried and forgotten throughout the millennia.
Lion-Griffins with their eagle talons and lion teeth, symbolize vigilance and strength, both of which are symbolic of the sun.  They denote wisdom, courage and boldness, all representative of military leadership.  Furthermore, they are powerful fierce monsters that offer vengeance and salvation.
I am curious to find out how many of the original sculptures have been found.  Unfortunately, museums rarely think it necessary to provide such information to visitors.
The mausoleum was built around a solid rock core measuring 30 meters x 30 meters, that rises over 11 meters above a three stepped crepidoma (pictured below).
As you can see in these photos, the outside surface of the solid rock core was covered with large thick stone blocks that offered the aesthetic of a constructed building, while at the same time concealed a large hollowed out burial-chamber located within its south side wall.
When standing at the foot of the crepidoma, the impressive size of the monument can truly be felt, as the sculpted walls shoot straight up like sheer cliffs.
I always enjoy exploring sites that are rarely visited by tourists.  
The feeling I get is that I am truly exploring, and the thought of sharing these sites with those who will never visit them fulfills my inner geographical self.
Of course, it would be a nice way to make a living, doing something I am extremely passionate about, and I could do it twenty-four-seven.  I am working on that prospect now, for the future.
The site has a massive collection of the mausoleum building members, its fluted columns, Corinthian capitals, ceiling coffer frames, and more (pictured below).
Pictured above, some flutes columns that surrounded the upper portion of the mausoleum standing in the grass, while in the back left of the photo, we see a ceiling coffer frame.
Pictured above, the dentils of the second story cornice can be seen under a plainly sculpted piece, while below it, the elaborately sculpted first story cornice displays its elegant pattern.
There is an inscription on the outer blocks of the architrave that read the following:


'Heliades Zeus Phaedon Aphrodite'
Pictured above and below, one of the well preserved Corinthian capitals half buries, waiting for the restoration work to begin.
The overgrowth of many of the sites in Turkey and elsewhere presents a danger for looting and loss of antiquities.
As you can see in the aerial photo below, the Belevi site was once completely cleared of all vegetation, with the building members numbered and laid out orderly.
I cannot understand why a UV protected tarp material would not be employed to keep such sites satellite protected 24-7.

In the background of the photo below, you can see the old useless rusty fence that surrounds the site, and is the only barrier between preserving the priceless members of this monument, and losing them forever.

In the right of the photo below, we can see the tomb entrance on the south side of the monument, that was once hidden behind a covering of large stone blocks that once formed the outer walls of the structure, many of which sit in situ still.

Pictured below, the tomb has been cut and carved out of the solid rock core of the structure.  The sarcophagus that was found in the tomb, now on display at the Selcuk Museum, near Ephesus.

The reclining beardless male figure atop the sarcophagus has been crowned with a wreath, and is holding bowl in his right hand.  

In it was a large unfinished sarcophagus with a reclining beardless male figure on top. The male figure was formerly crowned with a wreath and held a bowl in its right hand which formed together with standing statue of an oriental servant. The oriental servant characterized by his posture and clothes may have been a royal Persian servant or a page representing a banquet scene

The tomb had been robbed during antiquity.  The hole in the side of the sarcophagus shows how any valuables were removed from the marble box (pictured above).

Also, a standing statue of an oriental servant, probably Persian, based on his posture and stance, was found in the tomb, perhaps to complete the banquet motif of the burial chamber (pictured above).

Pictured above, the raised platform on which the sarcophagus once sat.

Pictured below, a view if the stylobate just outside the tomb entrance, which surrounds the entire structure.

I thought about climbing to the top of the mausoleum, but I cannot excess here in words just how hot this day was, and me with my cycling sandal cleats just waiting to slip of some ten meter high stone wall.

Pictured above and below, a section of a ceiling coffer frame that would have held on display one of the many centaur battle and/or funerary game reliefs pictured further down.

The ceiling coffers of the Mausoleum of Belevi were sculpted with centaur battle scenes and funerary games.  The remaining coffers can be found at both the Izmir and Selcuk archeological museums (pictured below).
A warriors slays a centaur.
A boxing match.
A centaur strikes at a warrior.
If you ever find yourself visiting Ephesus, which is thee top tourist destination in Turkey, I urge you to search out the Mausoleum of Belevi.  If nothing else, it will give some idea of what the Mausoleum of Halicarnassus looked like, in both size and grandeur.

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

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