Sunday, January 2, 2022

Perre: Antiochia On The Taurus

 Photos by Jack A. Waldron

Ancient Perre (also spelled, Perrhe) is now called Orenli, but is probably still known by its original village title, Pirin.
Today, the same route crossing the Taurus mountain range is used by all varieties of traffic, including bicycles, between Malatya (ancient Melitene) and Adiyaman, as Perre is no longer the important crossing staging point it’s fresh water spring once made it (pictured below).
The Roman era marble fountain (protective spring structure) is located in the center of the village, and is still in use today.
Cesme’ in English is ‘spring’, and ‘Roma’ is ‘Roman’, but there are no camped armies, or caravans preparing for the mountain crossing, just modern vehicles zooming past this ancient staging point.
Pictured below, a deep look at the inner structure of this Roman fountain.
I’m not sure why the clay pipes (pictured above) have been placed in the spring, perhaps to clean them slowly, or, to funnel the water for clear drinking?
As for the rest of the ancient city, I’m afraid it lay under the village.
As with the numerous other villages around Turkey that lay atop ancient ruins, as the villagers move, pass away, etc., the houses and land are slowly bought up by government entities, and eventually excavated.
Walking up behind and atop the Roman fountain, we can see that the structure is indeed elaborate, and continues under the more recent black top pavement.
Stepping closer, it becomes obvious that there are various marble building members scattered atop the spring structure, which may have been part of a fountain house.
Walking toward the hills, one can’t help but try to locate the unexcavated theater, which could possibly be captured in the photo below?
The spring poppies in Turkey never let one down for color, especially when growing in the midst of an ancient city, though I must say, the wild Rocca I picked in the ancient city of Laodicea On The Lycus really was extra delicious.
Once again, the scenery around Adiyaman doesn’t fail to awe. 
The village in the background is Orenli (Pirin), and I am standing at the edge/beginning of the expansive Necropolis.
The photo below is of an ongoing excavation that is not yet open to the public.  It is directly above the village, and may be another necropolis.
Continuing on to the main site, which is the Necropolis, a dead city emerges, with cisterns, catacombs, and building members from freestanding, or partially freestanding tombs.
A city indeed!
There are so many rock cut tombs, that one could spend forever investing them all.
For range reference, the tomb pictured above in the center bottom of the photo can be seen in the photos above and below
Some sarcophagi were protected within the rock honed tombs (sculpted boxes with lids, or, lids atop rectangular burial holes, while others were placed outside to weather in the elements.
This quarry slash necropolis makes for a fascinating work/rest polis.
The round port light in the left of the photo below allows a plentiful portion of light into the back chambers of the tomb.
Stepping inside, we go from 28 Celsius to 18, and the darkness is at first blinding, but oh those port lights!
As you can see below, the tombs become very navigable with the help or the intense Turkish sun.
This multi space burial tomb was most likely purposed for a large family, plus extended family members as the decades passed, eventually raided for any treasure, and finally, a dwelling for a local family.
The burial tomb entrance pictured below comes alive as the Egyptian(?) reliefs come to view (that may still have rough thinly painted surfaces), however, is it simply my imagination at work here?
I see on the right side, an archaic figure with an Egyptian headress  and short skirt walking or standing?
Continuing through the necropolis, I found this natural wall that divides two sections quite aesthetically pleasing.
Perhaps once protected from the elements by a stone or wooden superstructure, remnants of what looks like a stone block floor can be seen (pictured below).
Here we can see the same tombs as above in the left of the photo, along with hollowed out sarcophagi blocks that once would have been protected by lids (pictured below).
As the pillar bases pictured below will attest to, some of the burial tombs were partially or fully constructed and stood independently from the stone necropolis/quarry walls.
Here we have two column building members, though I can’t truly place them as capitals or bases, though I suspect the one pictured above is a column base, while the one pictured below is a capital?
The square building member pictured below is also most likely a column base for one of the collapsed tombs.
No city would be complete without its water supply, and to aid grieving families with their customary visits to pay respects, and for those who worked in the area, cisterns can be found throughout the necropolis (pictured below).
This cistern is quite deep and narrow, and descends to a door opening with the water accessible from both within the substructure or, from ground level via a shaft.
The necessity for, and availability of fresh spring water before crossing the mountains to Melitene (Malatya), probably ensured some prosperity for the people inhabiting the city as a whole.
I can imagine some ancient citizens using the sunken cisterns as respites from the summer heat.  Pictured below, a view back up the staircase.
Pictured below, a flash shot of the door opening at the bottom of the staircase.
Here we have yet another of the numerous sunken staircase cisterns that can be found throughout the necropolis (pictured below).
I didn’t take photos from inside this cistern as it was partially blocked by debris.  I doubt I will still be alive when greater Perre is finally vacated by locals and excavated.

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

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