Photos by Jack A. Waldron
Continuing my exploration of Miletus, which I conducted from the Theater counter-clockwise around the site, I leave the Serapeum to investigate the center of the Hellenistic/Roman city, beginning at the Central Square (illustrated below).
In the illustration below, the very large white building in the upper right is the Bouleuterion. Fronting the Bouleuterion compound is a propylon gate that sits on the Central Square. At the head of the square on the right (south), is the monumental Market Gate, while next to it sits the great Nympheaum/Fountain, which is facing the Bouleuterion directly across the Central Square.
Before moving on to the remains of the Bouleuterion, here is an historical recap of Miletus.
Pictured below, I am standing at the Roman Altar facing the Bouleuterion. Some blocks of the front wall sit in situ between myself and the upside down U-shaped rows of seating in the distance. In the upper right-hand portion of the photo, you can see the back of the Theater and Byzantine Fortress meeting the blue sky. The courtyard of the Bouleuterion measured 32 meter wide by 35 meters deep, and was surrounded by a Doric colonnaded portico.
The maximum capacity of the building was about 1500, with 18 rows of seating seperated into three kerkides/cunel by two staircases.
The Bouleutarion is a Hellenistic structure, built between 175-163 BCE, however, a later Roman addition was to the center of the courtyard, where an altar dedicated to Augustus for worship of the imperial cult was built. In the top illustration below, the view drawn here is of the orchestra and speakers podium, as seen from the upper central seating area.
In the lower illustration above, beyond the Bouleuterion, you can see a long row of columns in the distance, which is the western portico of the South Agora: the Serapeum is located just the side (outside) this section of the South Agora portico.
The two standing marble blocks pictured above sit in situ, and formed part of the front wall of the Bouleuterion building. Besides the front wall, the stone tile flooring can still be seen, and with the cavea rising in the back, it is easy to reconstruct the building in one's mind.
As you can see from the elaborately sculpted ceiling section pictured above, and what may be a section of door frame pictured below, the Bouleuterion was truly a magnificently ornamented structure, and it had to be, as it was constructed in the name of the Syrian king, Antiochos IV Epiphanes.
Though the Bouleuterion was constructed in the name of the Syrian king, the funding actually came from two Milesian brothers, Timarchus and Heracleides, as is inscribed on the architrave over the entrance.
As can be seen in the photo above, the marble used in the construction of the Bouleuterion was of the highest quality, which till this day retains its beauty.
Pictured above, the orchestra and cavea as seen from just outside the front wall of the building, while below, the illustration view is in the opposite direction from the analemma.
Spinning around from the Bouleuterion to face across the Central Square (pictured below), you can see the great Nympheaum in the right of the photo, and on the left in the photo, the steps and colonnade of a roofed portico known as the Sacred Way.
The monumental Market Gate that leads us to the South Agora is out of the photo to the right. The Market Gate and Nympheaum were taken to Berlin, Germany, and both have been reconstructed and stand on display at the Pergamon Museum. The illustration below is drawn from the exact same view point, only, in my photo above the Market Gate is out of the frame to the right/south.
Turning to the right, or south (pictured below) you can see a wall that was built by the Byzantines during the 7C CE, and basically follows the Agora wall to the Market Gate, which was incorporated into it. Beyond this wall you can see the bases of a colonnade running into the distance, which formed the western portico of the South Agora.
Following this wall east, or to the left in the photo above, brings us to what remains of the monumental Market Gate, which is located in the lower left-hand corner of the illustration below, leading to the South Agora.
The 2C CE Market Gate, which was 30 meters wide and 16 metres wide, was probably built during the time of Roman Emperor Hadrian's rule, and replaced an earlier gate that may have dated from the 3C BCE, and that was simpler in design. I cannot show you my photo of the Roman Market Gate, because I have yet to visit the Pergamon Museum in Berlin.
If you take the crepidoma and stylobate of the gate (pictured above), and apply them to the site display of the Market Gate pictured below, you can get an idea of just how beautiful and magnificent this gate was, as it once stood on its original footings.
As you can see, the Market Gate was two stories tall with niches on the top level that had statues depicting the emperors of Rome battling the barbarians they had faced. In the illustration below, you can see two lines of citizens pacing through the two doors of the Market Gate. The Bouleuterion is located to the right (west) of these lines, and the great Nympheaum is to the left (east).
The Corinthian columned Nymphaeum originally had two stories, with a central third story being added during the 3C CE, which probably displayed statues of the Roman Imperial Cult. The lower story displayed statues of the water related gods, and nymphs, which were also functional spouts that filled the pools. On the second story were statues of the Olympian gods.
Standing more than 20 meter high, the fountain had protruding wings on either side of two separate pools. It is believed that the facade of the fountain was designed based on the elaborately decorated Theater skene, and further, that if you picture the Library of Ephesus, you can get an idea of its beauty. Separated, ordered, and stacked against each other, ancient architects were no less ambitious in their pursuit to reflect `the beautiful' in their works, than any architect of today, and there is proof enough of that in ancient cities around the world.
The illustration below is looking from a southwest view point to the northeast. In the lower right quarter of the illustration you can can see the large empty space of the South Agora with its portico around the perimeter. The large white building just outside the South Agora is the Bouleuterion with its propylon gate off to its right on the Central Square facing the Nymphaeum directly across the square.
From the Central Square moving north you can see a long white colonnade, which is known as the Ionoc Stoa. The Ionic Stoa was constructed during the middle part of the 1C CE under the reign of Roman Emperor Claudius, and modified under Emperor Trajan in the late 1C to early 2C CE. The stoa is around 100 meters in length, and about 14 meters in depth.
There are six steps up to the stoa from the paved open space in front, which as you can see in the photo below, is prone to flooding, which must have also been a problem during ancient times. This open space was part of the Processional Way, that begins at the Delphinium, which is dedicated to Apollo, and which ends approximately 16 km away at the sanctuary of Apollo at Didyma.
This elevation protected the many shops and their customers from such inundations, while the roofed portico with its 35 fluted columns protected them from the intense sun rays. Further, the stadium like steps would have been used sitting and relaxing, for festivals, and of course to observe the procession from the Delphinium to the sanctuary of Apollo.
Directly across the paved open space is the smaller North Agora (in the right of the illustration below, which dates to the 5-4C BCE, and that also saw alterations during the Hellenistic and Roman periods. The Ionic Stoa can be seen across from the North Agora on the opposite side of the Processional Way. Behind the Ionic Stoa is the Hellenistic Gymnasium, which I failed to explore do to time constraints.
Continuing north on the Processional Way (toward the center of the illustration above) brings us to the Delphinium of Apollo, which is where the Processional Way begins. In the illustration above, sacrificial smoke rises from the altar to Apollo (red dot within the large green square on the city plan below).
The outline of the Delphinium of Apollo is easy to follow in the photo below, but unfortunately, the blocks of its perimeter wall have been quarried, and the columns of its portico repurposed, or worse, burnt for lime. In the photo below, you can see the column bases lined up down the left side and then turning the corner across the shot. The wall further out from the bases toward the bottom of the frame and off to the extreme left is the perimeter wall.
The illustration below is drawn from the same corner as the photo above was taken, and from nearly the same angle. The temenos of the Delphinium measured 50 meters wide and 60 meters deep. It is the oldest sanctuary at Miletus dedicated to Apollo, and it is connected to the oldest of Greek myths that relate the god with dolphins.
Inscriptions on blocks of marble, dedicatory bases, columns, architraves, stele and more, tell the stories of what we find, and build a background of the lives of the ancients, as well as of our own history. When George Bean examined the Delphinium, he reported more than 200 inscriptions in and around the site. Below are some of those inscriptions, but also if you look closely at the top block, you can see what appears to be a swimming dolphin, and the head of Apollo?
As on the walls within the sanctuary at Delphi in ancient Greece, here too dedicatory inscriptions were written in the hope that Apollo would favor those who had them inscribed. Pictured above and below are some of these beautifully detailed inscriptions that once adorned the well built marble sections of the sanctuary. The large block at the bottom of this stack has a quite lengthy inscription filling its full face.
In the relief pictured below (on display at the Miletus Archaeological Museum), you can see the three-footed Delphic Tripod in the left of the sculpture, which is most closely related to Apollo, and the Delphic Oracle. Next to the tripod is a laurel tree, as it was placed on the tripod when the oracle was not seated on it, but perhaps in the case of the Delphinium at Miletus, they burned laurel in the tripod. Finally, a seated Apollo holds court over the proceedings, and passes judgement over mortal lives.
In the far distance of the photo below, Humei Tepe/Hill can be seen with the Humei Tepe Baths standing at her foot. I did not explore these baths this time around, but will upon my return. In the foreground of the photo, we see the Large Lion Harbor Monument, aka the Lion Harbor Hellenistic Heroon. The harbor itself is now gone, the victim of centuries of silting, but would have met land just off to the left of this photo.
The row of columns on the stepped crepidoma in the left of photo below once supported the roofed entrance to a basilica type building dating to the Roman period 3-4C CE. Some suspect that it may have been a synagogue, it often referred to as the Lion Harbor Stoa, though, an inscription on one of the columns states that Apollo Helios commanded the construction of an altar to Poseidon. The circular Hellenistic Heroon can be seen in the right of the photo, and the harbors edge was once just the other side of this monument.
Dating of the Hellenistic Heroon puts its construction period between the early to middle 1C BCE. Through historical records we can guess with regard to whom or for what it was erected, but we can't be certain. One possibility is that it was dedicated to
The three-stepped Hellenistic Heroon is believed to have once reached a height of around 18 meters, with four levels depicting a victory at sea. Fragments recovered from the monument suggest, there was a tripod built on a monumental scale, that rose high atop lions, with lower level reliefs of tritons and dolphins at the bows of sailing ships.
Dating of the Hellenistic Heroon puts its construction period between the early to middle 1C BCE. Through historical records we can guess with regard to whom or for what it was erected, but we can't be certain. One possibility is that it was dedicated to the victory of the Milesian fleet led by a naval hero named Hegemon over pirates around 100 BCE. Another possibility is a naval victory over the Pontic fleet of Marcus Varius during the Mithridatic War III in 73 BCE. Yet another possibility is the Roman success of ridding the Eastern Mediterranean section of Asia Minor of pirates by general Pompeius in 63 BCE.
Though we may never know the true reason for the erection of the Lion Harbor Heroon, we do know that it was re-dedicated to Octavian Augustus for his victory at Actium in 31 BCE. The photo below was taken during my first visit to Miletus in 2005. Here, we are walking from Miletus to Didyma, but we did eventually hitch a ride the rest of the way.
*All photos and content property of Jack A. Waldron (photos may not be used without written permission)
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