Saturday, April 22, 2017

Patara: City on the Beach

Photos by Jack A. Waldron
Guarding the opposite end of the beach from Pydnee some ten kilometers or so away is the ancient city of Patara.  I first visited Patara with a local tour out of Kas in 2005, which also included Xanthus and Saklikent Gorge.
My main reason for revisiting the site on this day was to renew my museum card, which gives access to sites and museums within Turkey, and for $15, it is a great deal.  Pictured below, the well preserved Temple Tomb just outside the site entrance.
Oddly enough, I was not able to visit the various monuments along the road that goes to the beach site, which is where the city center is located.  I say oddly, because the tour bus wouldn't stop at these minor monuments along the way, and now on this visit, I would not go the full distance to the city center, as I was eager to reach Kas before dusk.
Unfortunately, all of my photos from my 2005 Patara visit are all in storage back in Oregon, and further, they all need to be scanned as they are all on film.  I will add that project to list of projects, and will eventually update various posts with those photos.  Until then, this post will remain short and not so sweet.  That said, I will make a plan to revisit the city under Sail Classical some time in the future, as there have been some newly discovered monuments, including the Bouleuterion.
This magnificent Temple Tomb (pictured above) dates from the 3C AD, and had four Corinthian columns along its front that supported a triangular pediment.  As stated in the information, it is the only temple tomb at Patara that still has its vaulted chamber intact.  Pictured below, my cycle rests on the curb behind one of the several exedra tombs that can be found at Patara.
Erected during the 2-3C AD, the sarcophagi rise above a podium on a U-shaped right-angled platform that utilizes very fine-cut stonework.  The ancient road leading to the city center would most likely have been beneath the current road, and would have passed in front of these various tombs.
Pictured below, as full of a shot that I could get of the front of this Exedra Tomb, as the hill dropped off sharply at the point where I was standing.  Please revisit this post in the future after I've had the chance to add additional photos and information.

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

Sunday, April 2, 2017

Pydnee: Lycian Naval Fortress

Photos by Jack A. Waldron
Leaving Letoon in the late afternoon, I put myself on a mission to find a campsite on or near the infamous Patara beach, which stretches 12 kilometers from NE to SW.  This mission turned out to be much more difficult than I had anticipated, as the coastal dunes are massive, which makes it impossible to transport a fully loaded bike to the seaside.
The small road that traversed the dunes from Letoon offered the occasional offshoot road leading toward the beach, and on a few occasions I attempted to follow them, but they went on and on, and became somewhat worrisome, as these were fairly new roads littered with tree branches, garbage and broken glass . . . , all abandoned.  Slowly, the road began to curve toward the beach, and nearing the final stretch, I noticed a long stone wall hugging the foot of the mountain on the the other side of a large wetland.  I snapped a couple of quick photos along the way, and then continued toward the sea.
When I finally met the sea, there was a public campsite about 100 meters off the beach, and it was free!  I was greeted by some friendly summer vacationers, and directed to a decent campsite (decent means, workable)  Of course I was curious about the ancient wall I had seen, but the sun was setting quickly, and it takes time to setup camp . . . , and I was starving!  The next day I enquired about the site, and was told by the only person who knew it was there, that it was an old prison.  I was forced to investigate the site before I would discover its significance.  
I crossed the crystal clear water of the Orlen stream (pictured above winding next to the fortress), which does not appear to be sourced from the Xanthus river, but from massive springs that come out of the mountain near the village of Karadere.  Following the small road away from the sea for a little less than a kilometer, you begin to see the towers along the ancient wall rise above the thick forest.  This must be among the least visited ancient sites in Turkey.
With the ancient site of Patara located about 10 km away from Pydnee at the SE end of the beach, and ancient Xanthus located between Patara and Pydnee at an equal distance inland from the the sea, the ancient naval fortress of Pydnee is strategically located to help protect this major shipping route for import and export of goods (see map below).
The rare visitor to the ancient site will first notice some sections of wall peeking through the forest, though with the heavy overgrowth, it is difficult to find a direct path to the ancient fortress.
Eventually, the polygonal masonry begins to rise from the slope, and goat paths make the approach a little easier.
Though some inscriptions found at the site date from the Imperial Roman period, other inscriptions from the Hellenistic period, along with the polygonal masonry, point to a construction date some time during the 4C BC.
The rectangular towers located at the corners and midsections of the wall appear to number between eleven and twelve (see the satellite view above).
The tops of the inner walls are easily accessed via staircases that are located throughout the circumference of the wall system, and appear to number between seven and nine, with the towers also providing wall access.
Looking at the walls from outside give a view that has changed little over the millennia (pictured above), however, when looking out over what once was a large bay with sea access is now covered with greenhouses full of tomatoes and eggplants (pictured below).
Other than a Byzantine person church, there are no discernible structural remains within the fortress.  As an outpost or fortress, the ancient housing and administrative buildings would have been less permanent, of a stick and mud construction in accordance with the period.
Most of todays visitors to Pydnee arrive via the Lycian Way, a series of paths that connect the ancient cities around Lycia, and which have been in continual use over the millennia.
The fortress as a whole offers a fascinating look at the architectural design and function of a defensive wall and tower system.  Each section offers some unique design feature, which makes the hike along the fortifications an exploration into the ancient past.
I am still amazed that Pydnee stands in such a great state of preservation, and I am hopeful that it will not be discarded as an unimportant antiquity.
During my wonderings around the site I often came across fresh pits that had been dug by treasure hunters.
A Byzantine church can be found near the lower portion of the wall (pictured below).  This would suggest that there was a community in and around the fortress, and that the strategic location did not lose its importance over a long period of time.
Perhaps like the moat surrounding a sandcastle, the walls of Pydnee provided a sanctuary for locals who could retreat within the walls for protection from Arab raids, piracy, or the odd attack.
Unfortunately, in a world that is becoming smaller and smaller, and with attacks that are taking place on a global scale, no moat appears to be wide enough to protect the species of the planet from the collective assault that humans are perpetrating on our home.
The monumental sandcastle pictured above is where the Orlen River (which flows below the fortification walls of Pydnee) meets the sea.  Unfortunately, this uniquely designed sandcastle lacks any semblance of a modern sewage disposal system, therefore, the waste is simply deposited directly outside the moat (the light brown feature!).  And yet, there is a toilet located only fifty meters from this site.
So, for Earth Day 2017, I offer some stunning photos from the geographic center of the infamous coastline known as the Turkish Riviera (pictured above and below).  I hope these images showcase just how small and fragile our planet is.
The garbage that is left behind every day on this beautiful beach by the swarms of bathers is either pushed higher up on the beach or taken out to sea by the daily tides.
Pictured above, the accumulation of garbage pushed further up on the beach, while below, a fresh daily deposit awaits the tides.
Such disrespect for the planet and the wildlife that share the environment has reached a level that does not bode well for our long term survival as a species.  The daily extinction rate and collapse of the web will eventually claim the human species as another casualty as more and more strands are clipped away.
This site is not surprising to anyone who has taken a bus ride within the country, as plastic pet bottles are tossed out speeding windows like the flick of an ash off of a cigarette.
The slogan used here to address such actions (as pictured above and below), which is repeated on a daily basis is, 'inshallah' or 'mashallah', which translates into 'god willing", or, 'if god wills', in that, gods will supercedes human will, therefore, humans are not responsible for said acts: and upon hearing this I always retort, 'me-sala', 'you-sala', 'they-sala', 'we-sala', because from my view point, god has nothing to do with it.
Disposable diapers (pictured above and below) are a common site along many stretches of beach around the world.  As you can see in the distance in the photo below, there is a garbage dumpster just fifty meters from this diaper.
There is no Return For Deposit on glass and plastic drink beverages in many countries around the Mediterranean, and the result is disastrous!  Further, plastic store bags are taken without any thought, often for a pack of gum or a candy bar, only to be thrown on the sidewalk.  

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

Sunday, March 19, 2017

Letoon: Sanctuary of Eni Mahanahi

Photos by Jack A. Waldron
The goddess Eni Mahanahi was sacred to Lycia and worshipped at the sanctuary now referred to as Letoon before Greek religious culture began its encrouchment on the Xanthus valley during the 4C BC.    As is the case today, two Apollonian myths are referred to in regard to 'Lycus', 'wolf' in Greek, which would become the basis of the claim to Apollos' rule over the Xanthus.
As Greek religious culture superseded Lycian religious culture, the Greek goddess Leto would rise to stand in place of Eni Mahanahi.  In a possible inverse cultural exchange between Attica and Anatolia, 'Leto' may derive from the Lycian word 'lada', which means 'woman').  To continue, Leto, beloved nymph of Zeus, bore him two children in the sacred sanctuary of Delos, named Apollo and Artemis.  This made Leto and her children the despised rivals of Hera, the wife of Zeus, who chased them away to the site now known as Letoon of the Xanthus.
Pictured above, a view of the temple of Leto with the other two temples behind over the Portico (row of columns in the forefront of the photo), and next to the Nympaeum (not pictured and off to the right).  Below, the top of a caryatid column found during excavations at Letoon on display in the Fethiye Archeological Museum.
The sanctuary of Letoon was not an occupied city, but the center of the Lycian religious cult where national festivals took place.  Letoon was administered by Xanthus, which is located approximately four kilometers north east of the sanctuary.
Three temples are situated next to each other within the sanctuary, the Ionic temple of Leto with standing columns, the central temple, believed to be dedicated to Apollo, and the temple closest to the hill, believed to be that dedicated to Artemis.
Due to a recently discovered mosaic next to the second largest of the temples (pictured above) that feature the lyre of Apollo and the quiver of Artemis, and though there is no certainty, this temple may be dedicated to both Apollo and Artemis, while it is uncertain to which god the centrally located building (the smallest of the three temples) is dedicated.
The temple of Leto has six fluted columns across the front and eleven along its sides.  Having been built sometime during the 3C BC, this is considered to be one of the best preserved Greek temple in current day Turkey.
In Metamorphosis, Publius Ovidius Naso (Ovid 43 BC - 18 AD) writes of Letoon,'an ancient altar black with the fires of many sacrifices, surrounded with shivering reeds'.
Pictured above and below, the fluted columns rise from the back of the temple of Leto, while engaged half columns climb the walls of the cella.
The temple sits several meters above an active spring which was accessed by a flight of stars that led worshippers to a sacred pool, here votives and statuettes dating back to 5C BC have been excavated.
A section of the elaborately sculpted Sima (pictured above) attests to the importance of the shrine, as well as the wealth it generated through its festivals, sacrifices and other religious events.
Uniquely ornamented Ionic capitals are on display alongside the temples they once supported.  Like a finger print or an iris scan, a site can be known simply by viewing the building members of the monuments at any given site.
Pictured above, a capital sculpted for an engaged corner half column of the cella, while below, a section of a frieze with motifs of a blooming flower and a bulls head, sits atop an architrave.
Based on a nearby inscription in Lycian on a rock face (pictured in the left of the photo below) and flanked by steps near the second largest temple located closest to the natural hill that reads, 'Ertemi', or 'Artemis', that would suggest that this is the temple of Artemis, and also Apollo if we consider the significance of the mosaic.
The second largest of the three temples is pictured above (Temple of Apollo and Artemis), and is dated to sometime during the Hellenistic period.  The small temple is pictured sandwiched in the middle on the right in the photo above, and is dated to the 4C BC.
With a dedicatory inscription and ornamentation, a statue base sits next to the temple of Apollo and Artemis.  The holes where iron mounts would have secured the statue to the top of the block base can be seen.  Pictured below and a bit difficult to discern under the standing water, is the left side of the Nymphaeum with the church in the top left of the photo.
The earlier Hellenistic Nymphaeum was rectangular in shape, the left side wall of which can be seen in the photo above.  The rectangular Hellenistic basin comes forward to meet the newer semicircular addition (veering to the left side of the photo above), the junction of which can be seen an exedrae shaped niche, which in ancient times had statues on display.  It is within the niche on the west side of the Nympaeum where a dedication to Hadrian can be seen.  Again, the Church is located in the top left of the photo.
One of the most important discoveries within the land once under the tutelage of the Lycians is the Letoon Trilingual Stele, sometimes referred to as the Xanthus Trilingual, but not to be confused with the Xanthus Bilingual.  The Letoon Trilingual Stele (pictured below) is on display at the Fethiye Archeological Museum.
Pictured below, the Lycian inscription, consisting of 41 lines, and was key to the decipherment of the ancient Lycian language.
Pictured below, the Greek inscription, consisting of 35 lines, it's importance due to the prominance of the use of Greek throughout the region.
Pictured below, the Aramaic inscription, which consists of 27 lines, and was the official language of the Persian empire.
The trilingual inscription on the Xanthus/Letoon Trilingual stone block allowed the Lycian language to be transcribed for the first time.
Situated directly opposite the remnants of the Nympaeum is an late 4C AD Church (pictured below), which was constructed using cut stone from other monuments and sits atop a section of the Nymphaeum toward the eastern side.
Inscribed stele, such as the one pictured below, were repurposed in the construction of the church (the stele pictured below can be seen as forming part of the church wall in the above photo, along with several others.
Just behind the church nestled against the natural hill is what appears to be a dedicatory monument featuring lion claw step decoration (pictured above and below).
The large Hellenistic Theater is located on the northern end of the site.  Though the stage building is missing, and is mostly scattered throughout the site as repurposed blocks for other constructions, the monument is in a remarkable state of preservation.
The northern and southern cavea entrances are quite unique when compared to other Hellenistic theaters.  The temple type facade may be an ode to Dionysus, as ancient theaters more often than not were graced with the presence of an actual temple dedicated to Dionysus within the vicinity of the theater building.
I was not to discover until a later date that the outer facade of the northern entrance (the inner side of which can be seen half way up the diazoma in the opposite side of the photo below) is decorated with reliefs of the masks of Dionysus, a satyr, Silenus and a girl.
As I cycle long distances to the ancient cities, time is often a heavy burden, and along with the intense heat of the sun, certain small aspects or features within these ancient cities are often missed, overlooked or bypassed.  It is later, when I am writing on these visits that I discover my regrets, which prompts me to declare, 'I now must revisit that site again . . . '.
The central section of the diazoma is carved out of the bedrock on the natural hillside.  The Theater was expanded upon during the 2C AD with the grand entrances being added on the north and south at that time.
The theater capacity should be estimated to accommodate some 15-20 thousand people.
As Letoon has been designated as a UNESCO site, money has become available for the preservation and reconstruction of various monuments.  Pictured below, newly sculpted arch members are being readied for reimplementation into the theater structure.
Pictured below, an original relief of a helmet from the theater building.
A cool classic motorcycle parked along the road to Letoon.  The are many of the around Turkey, and it makes me wish I was still riding, as I surely ould buy one!!

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