OLYMPOS ANCIENT CITY
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The necropolis area located in the west of the city is divided into a northern part and a southern by Olympos River. The Southern Necropolis is located in the south of the city divided into two by Olympos River. The concourse that is used today and that proceeds past the graves was probably used in a similar manner during Antiquity. The graves in the western part of the necropolis, where a total of 354 graves were found, are arranged as adjoined and as generally two-storey buildings covered with barrel vaults.
There are a total of 56 graves in the region that form groups around the theatre. The proximity of the graves to the theatre probably emphasises its link with Dionysian rituals. 113 graves were found in the Northern Necropolis area. The graves in this section are sparse rather than adjoining.
The necropolises were used for burial as from the 1st century AD, and they continued to be used during the 3nd century AD too. It is observed that the necropolis area of Olympos was not abandoned during the Byzantine Era as was the case with many other cities of Lycia. During this period, residences and churches were built within the necropolis area.
The building known as the Necropolis Church is located in the northwest of the ancient city divided into two by Olympos River, to te south of the entrance to the northern necropolis. Of the church located by the side of the river, today only the northern nave and the attachment adjoining the building at the northern face remains. The central nave, apse and southern nave were destroyed as a resukt of a flood that occured in 1969. Therefore there are no architectural remains belonging to the apse, naos and southern nave of the church.
It can be said that the building, which can be dated to the 6th century AD according to the architectural data and excavation finds, originally had three naves with galleries on the side naves, that the apse was surrounded by a Wall at the east and that there wxşsted a columnar basilica with a two-section atrium to the west. Although a definite function cannot be ascribed to the attachment to the North of the building, it is considered to have been built following the construction of the church.
Due to its location in the west of the city, at the centre of the northern and southern necropolis areas, the building is considered to be Olympos’ necropolis church.
The Entrance Complex that is located on the main Street stretching along the east-west axis of the northern city and delineating this Street at the south at its beginning point consist of 11 chambers that have an organic relationship with each other. It is understood from the Wall heights, floor traces and steps at certain parts of of the building that there was another floor on this ground with 11 chambers.
The most important architectural feature of the Entrance Complex is the arched arrangements found on the northern and southern façades. The arches at the north, on the façade facing the Street, probably limited the northern entrance corridor connected to the street. The east-to-west entrance corridor stretching along the entire northern façade of the building and connecting to the street through five arch spans also connects with the interior spaces through a door opening having four arches. The arched arrangement observed in the south must have been created to form an observation area in the courtyard at the south of the building, overlooking the river.
Various types of finds (ceramic, metal, glass) obtained during the excavation works started in 2009 and research conducted on the architecture have indicated that the building was used during the 5th-6th centuries AD for living and/or accommodation purposes and for the production and trade of foodstuffs. The Entrance Complex has assumed its present appearance as a complex building that does not demonstrate a special plan type with the additions, divisons and utilisation differences conducted during those centuries. It is an important building in shedding light on the daily and economic life of ancient Olympos.
NORTHERN NECROPOLIS STREET
Starting at the west of the city and stretching alongside the Northern Necropolis up to the western walls of the Episcopal Palace, the Northern Necropolis Street was used as a residential area as from the 4th century AD. On the street there are multiple-storey houses with large courtyards, belonging to the proximity to the sepulchures of the Northern Necropolis, and in some cases it is seen that the sepulchres were used to build the houses. This modification brings to mind that the street developed and took its present shape during the 5th century AD when it is believed that the city was entirely Christianised.
THE ALCESTIS SARCOPHAGUS
This sarcophagus with a cover having a triangular gable and upper and corner acroterions belonged to Aurelius Artemias and his family. It was made of local limestone. The sloped surfaces of the cover were ornamented with fish scale motifs imitating Attic covers. On the acroterions there are Eroses, while there are Medusa heads on the short surfaces. Plasters and Nike figures are placed at the corners of the sarcophagus. There are garlands on the front and two short façades of the body. Eroses, known as the seasons and symbolising immortalitiy, are placed on the upper curve of the garlands. Two Putti depicted from the front, holding the tabula ansata are placed at two sides of the garlands. Under the Putti there is a woman’s figure depicted as seated on a diphros. On the other part of the tabula ansata, right opposite the woman is a man’s figure appearing to have reclined on a kline with crossed legs. Below the tabula ansata, a dextrarum iunctio (handshake) scene is depicted within a door with columns at two side, covered by an arcade and containing a triangular gable. During the Roman age this motif expressed matrimonial union.
TOn the eastern short façade of the sarcophagus is depicted a standing male figure in a himation. The woman must be Omphale or Alcestis. There is a garland on the upper part of the figures. On the other short façade of the sarcophagus, in the corner and standing is a woman in a chiton and a himation and Heracles with the hide of the Nemean lion on his head. He is holding his mace. Above the figures, at the centre is a garland. There is a male figure with wings, wearing a short tunic and a hat on the garland curve. The moment of fighting an animal figure is depicted. Those building this sarcophagus belonging to Artemias and his family were most probably travelling artisans who were raised in the Pamphylia region and who also performed their craft in certain other cities of Lycia. This sarcophagus belonging to Artemias and his family is dated to the late 2nd century AD (around 180-200 AD).
The building belonging to the Roman Imperial Period located on the northern shore of the city with destroyed architectural examples of the city with destroyed architectural blocks belonging to the pronaos and the cella front façade that is still standing. It is dated to the second half of the 2nd century AD according to the epigraph on the statue pedestal placed in front of the cella door. The epigraph indicates that the pedestal was for a statue dedicated to Emperor Marcus Aurelius.
Examining the construction components of to the building’s front façade arrangements, seen in front of the cella of the temple that is located in a north-south orientation, it is seen that the building is of prostylos plan and in the Ionian order with four columns on the façade. It is seen that the still standing cella front façade was built with the psuedo-isodomic technique using rectangular cut stone. The monumental door seen in the façade is of 4.88 m height. The door lintels and jambs were carefully worked.
The two voluted consoles at the corners of the lento are important for noticing the details in the decoration. The fact that the Lotus- Palmette sequence, the Ionic kymation and the pearl of strings ornamentation seen in the lower blcok of the eastern jamb and the upper part of the western jamb supporting the lento are not seen outside these sections indicates that the construction of the building was not fully completed.
During the Byzantine Era the Episkopeions were buildins that represented the Episcopal organisation in the cities. The bishops had to tend to all religious, administrative, financial and legal matters at city level. Parallel to this, the episkopeions, the residences and seats of the bishops, possessed architectural designs arrenged to respond to these multi-level funcitons.
The Olympos Episkopeion is in the form of a complex with a 128x62 m rectangular plan. Delineated with a surrounding Wall, the episkopeion is the largest building within the city. During the construction of the episkopeion, the temple and temenos area from the Roman Era were included in the complex.
The Episcopal Church has a three-nave plan with narthex and transept. In Byzantine architecture the transept is a rectangular section located in front of the apse, lying in the opposite direction of the orientation of the nave in buildings having the basilica plan. We encounter many examples of churches with transepts, which were applied in the 4th-6th centuries AD, in the Mediterranean region. However, they are not seen after the 6th century AD.
The church is the largest building within the episkopeion. Its naos is 33.50 m long at the east-west orientation (including the apse semicircle) and 12.20 wide at the north-south orientation. The transept is 26.60 m in the north-south axis and 10.90 m in the east-west axis.
The Olympos theatre located in the Southern City was built on the northern slope of the hill at the western boundary of the city, where the walls make a southward turn and curve up towards the slopes of the Sepet Mountain. The fact that the Olympos theatre is located right beside the area where the western necropolis of the city starts is considered to be a Lycian characteristic. The heavy damage observed in the remaining sections of the theatre, which is dated to the second half of the 2nd century AD according to the inscription found in Phaselis indicating that the Olympos theatre was built bu Tyindaris to honour Hadrian, is due to the severe earthquakes suffered in the city and to the fact that the blocks were melted down in lime kilns to be used as construction material during the Byzantine Era.
In terms of plan, the Olympos theatre is seen to be one of the few semicircular-plan theatres in Lycia. With this feature it has a plan similar to taht of the Phaselis, Tlos and Xanthos theatres and it is understood to be built in the architectural form of Roman Imperial Era theatres. This fact supports the dating suggested for the building. The fact that the building is on a semicircular plan scheme and has eight crepidoma rows indicates that the Roman theatre proportions recommended by Vitruvius were used.
Certain grey-veinded marble columns seen in the theatre that was mostly constructed of limestone indicate that certain parts of the proscenium were probably built of marble.
One of the piers of the bridge built over the Olympos River that divides Olympos into two has remained almost intact while only the foundation of the other remains. The arch on the northern pier of the bridge that connects the settlements in the north and south of the city and the consoles seen in the retaining walls on the two shores of the river running through the city, which were built the connect the bridge arches to the soil, provide information on the form of the bridge. These observations lead to the understanding that the bridge had three openings and was in the herringbone form.
Traces of repair on the bridge indicate to two different phases. First built during the Roman Era, the birdge must have been destroyed by one of the severe earthquakes suffered in the region. It is understood that it was probably rapidly rebuilt during the early Christian Era when Access between the shores was interrupted as a result of this incident. This is clearly understood from the large number of bricolage belonging to Roman Era used in the pier.
This monumental grave building located in the northern acropolis belongs to Marcus Aurelius Archepolis of Olympos, who occupied the post of Lyciarch (head of the Lycian Leauge), and his family. The grave building has a form that is close to a square. A large part of it vault has collapsed. Within the sepulchre is a ‘’U’’ shaped podium made of massive stone, skirting the long and side walls with regular steps. The topmost podium step was profiled as a sitting bank. The corners are decoreted as lions’ feet. Immediatly on the podium are blocks, the lower and upper parts of which have moulded profiles. Three sarchophagi are placed on the podium.
To the right of the entrance is a sarcophagus with garlands, imported from Prokonnesos (Marmara Island). There is moulded profile on the lower part of the sarcophagus body. Three garlands on the long face and one each on the short façades were made without detail. A tabula ansata was made at the centre of the front façade, and the interior of the garland curves were left as round bosses probably for making a rosette motif. The sarcophagus to the left on the entrance is in the form of a chest. The grave building is dated to second half of the 3nd century AD according to its epigraph.
This sarcophagus belonging to Antimachos and his family is, like the monumental grave of the Lyciarch Marcus Aurelius Archeopolis, located in the northern section of the city. It is a family grave consisting of a sarcophagus with a hyposorion on the bottom part, having a cover with a pyramidal roof, known as the Lycian Type. The hyposorion has been placed on crepidomae with corner ornaments in the form of lions’ feet. The entrance of the lower grave was made through and opening in the east. The sarcophagus on the hyposorion is decorated with reliefs. Corner plasters are made on the front façade and narrow façades of the body. A psuedo-door motif was made on one of the narrow façades. The door is divided into four equal parts, and the pannels on the top part contain one rosette motive each while a doorknob motif is made on the lower pannels.
A tree of life motif emerging from a kantharos in the form of a creeper is made on the lower part of the plasters. The tree of lifre motif started to be used in the 3nd millenium BC. In the Sumerians it emerges as the symbol of the constant cycle of life and death. The tree of life motif on the sarcophagus belonging to Anrimachos and his family must have been made as a symol related to death. The psuedo-door depiction between the plasters is a description that symbolicallyopens to the worldof the underground, which became especially widespread in Anatolia during the Roman era. The Antimachos sarcophaguss is dated to between the middle of the 2nd century AD and the late 2nd century AD.
BUILDING WITH MOSAIC
In 1992 the Antalya Archaeology Museum conducted excavation, cleaning and arrangement works in the Building with Mosaic. The building consists of non-symmetrical rectangular-plan rooms surrounding a central space with an exedra in the north. In the south is an atrium surrounded with porticoes on four sides. On the walls build of rubble stone and lime mortar, decorative brickwork attracts attention. The stairs in the east provide access to the second floor placed on the domes. The second floor walls on the northern and southern walls are partly standing. It is understood the the dome was arranged high over the central space and that there were no rooms belonging to the second floor. The western and eastern wings of the second floor must have been connected to each other by a corridor located on the apse of the central space. The first floor is covered with domes built of stone and brick material while the second floor was probably covered with a wooden roof and tiles. The fact that the building which appears to have been used as a civilation residences, is rich in decoration with its mosaics and brickwork indicates that it belonged to one of the prominent families of the city.
In the building, the floors of all spaces are covered with mosaics. The mosaics pieces seen on the surface today have fallen on the ground floor when the second floor collapsed. In the ground floor mosaics there animal figures such as water fowls, fish, goats, rabbits and dogs within geometric borders. The mosaics are dated to late 3nd century – early 4th century AD according to their styles. The Thalassa figure seen in the central space is a figure that is generally encountered in buildings connected with water...
To the north the skirts of the Omurga Mountain delimit the valley containing the city. The ridge of the Yolmaca Hill to the southeast of Omurga Mountain narrows the mouth of the valley at the seaside. Settlement continueson this hill with an elevation of 48 metres.
On the hill, spaces belonging to the civilation texture, consisting of two –and- three-floor tower-type residences on the hill, and a cistern to meet the water demand have been found. Architectural data indicates that the hill was opened to settlement during Late Antiquity. The settlement on the hill was defined as the Acropolis by C.T. Newton who visited Olympos during his travels in 1884, and is still known by that name.
MONUMENTAL GRAVES OF THE HARBOUR
Vaulted monumental graves known as the Monumentak Graves of the Harbour were revealed during the recovery excavations lead by the Antalya Archaeology Museum in 1990. These graves dated to 2nd century AD were once more used during the 5th century AD. The first Harbour Monumental Grave consists of a sarcophagus placed on a high podium inside a chamber obtained by carving the bedrock. A section on the front façade of the sarcpohagus, facing southwards, was broken. Probably this section contained an inscription within a tabula ansata. The second of the Harbour Monumental Grave is located in a two-floor space made by carving the bedrock. The inscription on the lento that was found during the excavations held at the beginning of the century and subsequently published, which is now lost, reads:
‘’Aurelius Zosimos, son of Euporistos, had this structure built for himself, his mother, wife, children, grandchildren and his uncle Eudemos.’’
Also known as the ‘’Large Bath’’ due to being the larger of the two baths in Olympos, the building is understood to be built around 70 AD, during the reign of Vespasian, according to an epigraph that was discovered. (Caesar Vespasianus Augustus, master of the land and the sea, had this bath built down from its foundtions upon the recommendation of Gnaius Audius, his legate and praetor.) The frigidarium, tepidarium and caldarium sections of the building are still standing. Examining the architecture in these sections, it is understood that the building is of monumental scale.
During the Roman Imperial Era, as from the 1st century AD, bath buildings were built for propaganda purposes in all imperial cities as an important element of urban social and cultural life in addition to their function. Considering that the average Roman citizen spent a larger part of his afternoon at the bath, that political lobby activites were carried out during routine meetings at baths and the physical education of children and youth took place in the palaestra sections of the baths, the position of baths in urban life and construction activities is seen more clearly.
A three-nave basilica is located in the southern section of a trapezoidal rectangular area, the walls of whicha re still largely standing. A door opening to the southern nave can be seen in the western façade of the church that has no narthex and atrium. The naos is positione an a stylobate, and is divided into three naves with two rows of columns made up in turn of eight columns each. In the east of the central nave is found an apse with four arched window openings in semicircular form at the inside and the outside.
In the north of the basilica is a square to rectangular-plan annex, and in the north is another annex aith an apse. A corridor was formed between the apse wall and the northern wall of the trapezoidal rectangular area. On the eastern wall of the northern section is an apsidal niche with a triconchios plan in the inside and a semicircular plan on the outside. Murals with figures are seen on the niche semidomes. A portica stretching parallel to the street was discovered in front of the northern wall.
It is understood that the building that was built as a palaestra or agora during the Roman Era, and was converted into a church together with Christianity.
THE SOUTHERN SLOPE SETTLEMENT
To the south the slopes of the Musa Mountain delimit the valley containing the city. The Yeremeci Promontory to the east of the slopes reaches into the sea, lending the seashore area of the City of Olympos an appearance of a natural harbpur. In this area streets stretching in an east-west orientation, connected with north-south oriented steps, were found on terraces formed on the slopes. On two terraces having an approximate difference of elevation of 10 metres, there are two churches built on a three-nave basilica plan.
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Olympos Excavation Executive Members
Prof.Dr. B.YELDA UCKANHead of the Excavation - Art Historian
Asst.Prof. GOKCEN K. OZTASKINDeputy Head of the Excavation - Art Historian
Asst.Prof. ERKAN UCKANArchitect
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