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ANMED Issue: 2007-5
 
Excavations at Rhodiapolis in 2006: The First Campaign
Nevzat ÇEVİK – İsa KIZGUT – Süleyman BULUT
 

Located within the border of the Sarıcasu Köyü, in the township of Kumluca of Antalya İli, Rhodiapolis received its name from the Rhodians that colonised it. We learn of its name from Hekataios. Theopompos claimed it was named after Rhodos, the daughter of Mopsos. However, its name in Lycian is thought to have been Wedrei (Wedrennehi/Wedrenni). The name Wedrei is found together with that of Trbennimi on the Dynastic period coins of Lycia. This suggests that there existed a settlement here prior to the Rhodian colonisation. The earliest ruins in this city known to have been a member of the Lycian League are the rock cut tombs dating to the Classical period. Most of the visible ruins date from the Roman and Byzantine periods. The most important remains in the city are the theatre, bathhouse, agora/stoa, sebasteion, temples, church, cisterns, cenotaph, necropolises and houses (Fig. 1, and prior to excavations see Fig. 2).

Opramoas: The best known figure from the city and his best known work is his monumental tomb (Fig. 3). He lived in the period of Antoninus Pius (138-161); was the richest man in Lycia and the most renowned philanthropist (Euergetes). His mother was from Korydalla and his father was from Rhodiapolis. He had very rich and famous relatives all over Lycia such as C. Julius Demosthenes of Oinoanda and the Lyciarch Licinnius Longus. His ancestors had attained high positions like Lyciarchia (President of the Lycian League), Strategia (Military Commander) and Hipparchia (Commander of the Cavalry). His brother Apollonios was the chief priest of the imperial cult, scribe of the Lycian League and Lyciarch. He was honoured many times. Almost all Lycian cities received some form of help from Opramoas, who was active from 114 through to 152/153 and in particular the many monuments devastated in the earthquake of 141 were restored through his help. He contributed with amounts varying from 3000 to 100.000 dinars. The highest support went to Myra with 100.000 dinars and to Tlos with 80.000 dinars. Apart from the contribution made to the cities, he also supported the people in social areas such as shroud money for the living, providing dowries for young girls and food for the poor. In addition to this list of donations and honourings, 12 inscriptions containing his exchange of letters with Roman Caesars, 19 Procurator letters and other 33 documents related to the Lycian League are recorded on the walls of his monumental tomb. These letters, especially those exchanged with Antoninus Pius suggest Opramoas was also the Lyciarch. The long inscription embellishing the walls of the monument located to the southwest of the theatre is the longest inscription in Lycia, and perhaps in all Anatolia. The monument’s surroundings were cleaned in 2006 and it will be excavated in 2007.

Research: The city was first visited by T. A. B. Spratt in 1842. The interest in the city started in 1892s arising from the inscriptions on the Opramoas tomb and it retained its importance since then, becoming a focus of scientific publications. Tituli Asiae Minoris II.3 by E. Kalinka published in 1944 also contained inscriptions from Rhodiapolis beside those from Arneai, Arykanda, Idebessos, Akalissos, Olympos and Phaselis. The first visual documentation and detailed investigations of the Opramoas inscriptions were completed by E. Krickl and his team that visited the site in 1894. In recent years, the epigraphic surveys conducted by B. İplikçioğlu revealed the presence of inscriptions that escaped the eyes of the previous scholars. C. Kokkinia published detailed work on the Opramoas inscriptions in 2000. Following the survey observations of B. Ferraro and H. Y. Özbek on the theatre, A. Farrington on the bathhouse and those of C. Bayburtluoğlu on the settlement, we have launched the first extensive project covering the archaeology of the city.

The first campaign of excavations at Rhodiapolis was conducted in 2006 on behalf of the Ministry of Culture and Tourism and Akdeniz University and was supported by DÖSİMM of the Ministry of Culture and Tourism, Akdeniz University, the Kumluca Municipality and AKMED. Our team would like to express their gratitude to all these institutions for their support.

Works Conducted: The first campaign covered the following areas: an overall cleaning of the surface and vegetation in the city; the construction of vehicle roads in the city; infrastructure works; preliminary surveys for identification purposes; topographic work and excavations. The excavations were carried out in the bathhouse, agora/stoa, theatre and street (For the condition before and after the excavations see Figs. 1 and 2).

The excavation work was planned both at the structural level and at the level of organic relations with a total intervention to a group of structures sharing the same environment and conditions. The Roman bathhouse, which stands in isolation, was excavated separately but the excavations at the agora, the Opramoas Stoa and the theatre were planned as individual projects themselves but were planned and were integrated as a wholly related excavation.

The basic principle of the Rhodiapolis excavations entails not increasing the speed of work undertaken but rather, improving its efficiency by extending the team and the work undertaken. Thus, multiple areas or structures could be carefully excavated in parallel to each other and multiple works could be conducted simultaneously. For this purpose, sub-organisational pyramids were formed in the main areas of excavation and where necessary, individual work organisations were founded even within a single area; consequently efficiency and responsibility were greatly enhanced resulting in quite remarkable achievements over a wide area. We experimented with a new method, an alternative to the customary method of spending 10-15 years excavating a single monument. With this method, the same financial resources were expended directly on the excavation work through increasing the number of workers involving a shorter timeframe, instead of spending it on the daily expenses of a small team which consequently extends the duration of the excavation campaign. As this was the first year of the excavation campaign and the required facilities such as depots and laboratories did not exist, the excavations of monuments where more finds are to be expected were postponed to future campaigns. Yet the small finds that were uncovered filled 100 chests. They were regularly taken to the excavation house, cleaned, documented and stored in plastic boxes with tags.

The infrastructure and preparatory work entailed the clearing of the vegetation from an area of about 15.000 sq.m. in the public centre of the city, including the theatre, west city gate, up to the bathhouse, and the agora; the forest road was improved; two work roads were constructed by hand and by slight additions from the termination points of the present forest road (300 m. in the east and 100 m. in the west); two temporary lavatories and a water tank were also built. The surveys covered detailed observations of the entire settlement and its environs; plans of all the important monuments, above all of the areas to be excavated, were drawn and the stone plans and other documentation of the areas to be excavated (bathhouse, theatre, agora/stoa, street, Opramoas Monument) were completed; a topographic map of the site began to be prepared; a map of half the city, where excavation work was conducted has been completed; aerial photography was undertaken and, within the framework of the joint project prepared together with the Remote Sensing Centre of Akdeniz University, remote sensing and the overall documentation of the city has been initiated.

Bathhouse (Fig. 4): The work at the bathhouse was undertaken by four teams and the excavations of the caldarium, tepidarium, frigidarium, service and vestibulum parts were completed, while those in the palaestra resting upon four cisterns has been in part left to the 2007 campaign. All the architectural and interior furnishing evidence to be expected from a Roman bathhouse was uncovered. Technical questions regarding the heating system and water supply have also been answered. Evidence gathered and observations made point to a construction date in the 2nd century at the earliest, with repairs undertaken in the 3rd and 4th centuries. In addition to the sub-phases during the Roman period, the structure was restored and extensively altered and was employed for housing during the Byzantine period. The bathhouse overall is of the Anatolian baths-gymnasium type layout. It covers a total area of 998 sq.m., more than half of which was reserved for the palaestra. The baths section repeats the conventional layout often encountered in Lycia. The main sections of apodyterium, frigidarium, tepidarium and caldarium are aligned one after the other along the same axis.

The small finds are mainly potshards from the Late Roman period. The potshards uncovered in section 4 were brought together yielding 6 amphoriskoses. On the handle of a Rhodian amphora is a seal bearing the head of Helios and the illegible name of the manufacturer. Evidence from the architecture and roof tiles indicate a timber- roof tiled construction. Under the window in the south wall of the tepidarium were found glass fragments belonging to a window. Metal finds mainly include nails and other binders, but noteworthy are a chain of 15 rings and an iron file. Inscribed blocks and block fragments from the Roman and Byzantine periods have also been found. Only one of the coins could be identified carrying the legend Basileus.

Agora/Stoa (Fig. 5, before the excavation see Fig. 2): In the public city centre, the agora and the stoa were organised together. The stoa almost constitutes the covered part of the agora to its west. 40 m. of the 59 m. total length were excavated entirely and of the remaining part, only the uppermost level was excavated. The entire area measures 29.90 m. wide on the south and 19.15 m. on the north. The 9.20 m. wide western half of this area is the stoa. In the south, four large cisterns, each measuring 7.40x11.25 m., constitute the substructure of the large terrace. The agora is accessed from two sides. The agora terminates in the south in a triangular junction-like area bordered on the north side by the sebasteion. Here, the road coming from the eastern lower part of the city turns toward the agora, the west city gate and the theatreacropolis street. This area provided access to the agora at the same level while wide stairs lead to the upper floor of the stoa, and thus to the Opramoas square.

A 60-meter long line extending along the centre of the agora bears in situ traces of columns resting on the stylobate blocks without a base. 17 of these lie in the excavated areas and the diameters of the columns are ca. 43 cm. The columns are spaced 1.40-1.50 m. apart. In the middle of the stoa, it was understood from the fallen blocks that there was a two-storeyed stoa here. The remains indicate Doric columns rested on the stylobate without bases, supporting a plain architrave of three fasciae on the ground floor level, while the postaments of the upper floor correspond to the columns of the lower storey and supported Corinthian columns and the roof. A lime kiln was found in the middle of the agora. All the marble pieces from the area around the kiln had been burnt; further away from the kiln the number of architectural finds increased. The floor of the stoa was paved with mosaics along 60 m. Trial trenches opened in places revealed mosaics of three colours and geometric motifs that are quite well-preserved.

The small finds included numerous potshards belonging to a variety of vessel forms from different periods, tile and brick fragments, fragments of sculpture and reliefs and complete and fragmentary inscriptions.

Theatre (Fig. 6): 80% of the theatre’s excavation has been completed. The cavea, orchestra and proskene, which were almost entirely buried, were exposed while the rear of the stage building and parts of the parodoi were not entirely exposed. The stage building was left this way because it forms a set with the Opramoas monument and they need to be excavated together. The excavation of the theatre will be completed in 2007. The theatre is the last public structure on the northern border of the public city centre. Our experiment of seating the 90 strong excavation team in the theatre, indicated the theater’s capacity was approximately 1500. It was accessed to the top of the cavea from the north back, via the parodoi on the west and east and via a stepped ramp behind the analemma wall of the cavea on the west.

The street coming from the residential quarter north of the agora leads to the eastern parodos and the top corridor of the cavea; the street coming by the sebasteion in the city centre rises in steps and reaches the western parodos and the stone paved ramp leading up the cavea. The stepped stone-paved road rising from the back of the high wall of the Opramoas B stoa has been partially uncovered up to the back of the cavea. Inside this open air corridor were heart-shaped column drums and blocks with profile, fallen from the temple. This road joins the road encircling the theatre above the diazoma over the last row of seats. The theatre of Rhodiapolis provides an model solution for the human traffic of a Hellenistic theatre, with four separate access ways.

The cavea mainly sits on the hillside. The eastern onethird is formed by the analemma wall behind the first two cunei on the east and this section has the tallest and strongest wall of the theatre. The polygonal masonry walls have two rows of cut stone blocks – one 2.55 m. below the top and the second 2.08 m. further below. This displays Hellenistic features and the wall in this area is supported by four strong buttresses.

The diameter of the theatre is 39.22 m. and the cavea has 6 cunei/kerkides bordered by 7 stairs. The fully round orchestra has a diameter of 10.52 m. The cavea rises 9.24 m. above the orchestra. 16 rows of seats are each 0.40 m. tall. The depth of the rows of seats varies from 75 to 80 cm. The front 37-38 cm. of this depth is finer worked for sitting upon, while the rear half of the same width is more coarsely worked for the feet. Four sets of stairs between the cunei have 33 steps each. Three of the seven stairs protrude into the orchestra passing through the balustrades after the first row. These three stairs have 38 steps each and extend with balustrades and profiled workmanship from the first row into the orchestra with this extension rising 1.30 m. beneath which are lions feet at equal distances around the entire orchestra. These lion feet do not carry any decoration at all, differing from those decorating the rows of seats. The first three front rows of the cavea have 8 square holes, which are aligned within an area, not according to any certain rule. This alignment makes sense, when taken into consideration together with the 9 square holes on the encircling wall of the orchestra. As inferred, the lower part of the cavea was covered with a partitioned tent covering system and the majority of the cavea was covered with a tent system supported by thick round posts. There is only one trace regarding the supporting of the tent system from the back of the cavea, on the eastern end of the cavea, there is a hole for placing the supporting post in the analemma wall corresponding to the middle of the first cuneus. This hole is found on the wall surface 1.90 m. below the top level of the cavea. There is a consol on the wall surface above the fourth buttress from the east and this consol must have served to support the tent covering. The holes on the rows of seats indicate that the entire cavea was covered. The only diazoma extends between the last row of seats and the row of armchairs. At the top of the cavea, along the back of the diazoma are the armchairs, some of which in the middle section have remained in situ. Some of the armchairs fell into the orchestra, others were reemployed in the construction of the Byzantine tower at the back of the theatre.

The upper part of the stage building extending in an eastwest direction has entirely collapsed; only the ground floor has been preserved. The upper part of the proskene is also in ruins and extends at a tangent to the circle of the orchestra. The stage building is 7.94 m. wide including the proskene and 16.11 m. long. Five doors open on the proskene front. The stage building has two rectangular rooms inside. The vaults carry a stone slab pavement, preserved in the western corner of the proskene. Most of the small finds uncovered inside the theatre came from the flow down from the temple and its environs, located to the west and above the top of the theatre. Small finds include numerous potshards, architectural decoration, architectural elements, an altar, coins, statue fragments, votive vessels, inscribed steles and ceramics.

Excavations in the street (Fig. 5, before the excavation see Fig. 2): The street network of the city can be traced mainly from the surface, evaluating the relations between the structures and the topography. The main road coming from Kumluca and Korydalla on the south reaches the southeast of the bathhouse on the skirt of the settlement hill and then ascends to the city. The road continues westward up the slope to the centre of the city. The street passes north of the bathhouse and ascends to the residential quarters of the city. The road extending westward up the slope to the city branches off into the settlement. Most of these streets can be easily traced. The road leading to the city centre reaches the agora platform as a narrow street parallel to the front of the sebasteion (north) and becomes the junction of a network extending to various parts of the settlement. The street leading north from the junction reaches the agorastoa, the one to the west reaches the west gate and the one to the northwest reaches the acropolis and the theatre. The street turning toward the agora also ascends in steps to the upper floor of the Opramoas stoa. The 43 m. long street extending from the junction before the sebasteion to the eastern analemma of the theatre is 5.10 m. at its widest point. It is entirely paved with stones and has steps. At the beginning of the street are the stairs turning north to provide access to the upper floor of the stoa. Eight of the steps leading to the Opramoas stoa are preserved and indeed there must have been 10 in total but the top two steps were destroyed together with the monumental entranceway. Starting from the bottom of the street, these stairs in a north-south direction are 3.60 m. wide.

Small finds included potshards, brick and roof tile fragments and architectural elements with profile from the deposit in the area of the steps leading to the second floor of the stoa, as well as numerous potshards, statue fragments, fragments of inscribed blocks, glass fragments and coins points from along the street.

Conservation: 1. The city suffered from a great fire in 2000, some structures display fire damage and many stone blocks have been damaged. The excavations helped to consolidate the fire damage and the cleaning of the vegetation has also prevented potential fires. 2. With the onset of the excavations, illicit looting excavations and their damage have stopped; moreover, a permanent guard has been appointed and paid for by the Kumluca Municipality to prevent any further illicit looting digs and all sorts of other damage. 3. The walls of the bathhouse were in danger from deep cracks and the walls were reinforced with lime mortar and small rubble fillings, as well as through mortar injection; 4. The bathhouse excavations have been completed to a large extent and the structure has been taken under protection with the erection of a wire fence 250 m. long; two access ways for visitors and vehicles have been left to the north and south. 5. On the slope on the west side of the bathhouse canals with double inclination have been dug, in order to prevent winter rain damage and to redirect the rain water away from the bathhouse. Some rows of seats, whose exact locations are clearly seen, have been placed back in the theatre. 7. Most of the broken fragments from the rows of seats of the theatre have been placed with dowels back into their original places. 8. The original places of some fragments fallen to the front and back of the exedral area in the northeast corner of the agora were replaced. 9. Fragments belonging to the Medusa head from the pediment of the agora-stoa were assembled and joined together. 10. Some potshards were also re assembled and fixed together.

The 2007 campaign at Rhodiapolis intends to complete the incomplete parts of the abovementioned works.

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