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ANMED Issue: 2007-5
 
Excavations at Olympos in 2006
B. Yelda OLCAY UÇKAN
 

The surveys at Olympos were completed in 2005 and the first campaign of excavations was conducted in 2006 and concerned the continuation of the identification of the city’s architectural data. The campaign lasted from the 5th of August to the 31st and the team members were Asst. Prof. Dr. E. Uçkan, lecturer E. Uğurlu, research assistants Z. Demirel Gökalp and M. Bursalı of Anadolu University, lecturer Y. Mergen of Dokuz Eylül University, archaeologist O. Atvur, architect R. Yılmaz, civil engineer E. İlter, master’s students of Anadolu University G. Öztaşkın and S. Evcim, art historians A. Gümüşoğlu and G. Ergün, art history undergraduate students A. Maşalı, G. Sayacan, M. Boylu, D. Yılmaz, student of press and public relations E. Çelikel, İ. Çelik, and the state representative was the archaeologist A. Tosun. We would like to express our thanks to the General Directorate of Cultural Heritage and Museums of the Ministry of Culture and Tourism for the permission to conduct this work, VASCO Tourism Inc. for financial support, and Ekol Architecture for their support.

Contrasting with most ancient sites, the ruins of Olympos are not concealed beneath a thick layer of earth facilitating our work and permitting us to gather information regarding the city’s architecture without initiating extensive excavations. It is possible to prepare the plans of the structures together with the cleaning work. As some of the structures have walls standing to a height of the second or even third floor, a hightech system was employed, which will also establish the basis for the future restoration work. For this purpose, laser scanning equipment which can scan in three dimensions and which allows us to map the results in the country’s coordinates in the future was employed.

3-D work:
For the three dimensional laser scanning work a RIEGL LMS 420i was used (Fig. 1). This scanner identifies points on the surfaces the rays reach at a distance between 10 mm. and 1000 m. The points identified by sending laser rays every 0.02 m. allowed us to gather detailed information. At the same time, photographs taken with a camera calibrated with the laser scanner permitted the colouring of the point identified. All the data obtained during scanning was transferred to digital medium. The digital data was processed using RISCAN PRO software and workable digital documents were obtained. The scans made from different points were joined and 3-D images of the measured area were obtained. Thus, plans, cross-sections and elevations of the areas scanned can be prepared to scale and 3-D animated images can be produced.

The 2006 campaign at Olympos entailed the laser scanning of the most monumental structures: the Roman Baths (Dwg. 1/10), the Temple gate (Dwg. 1/20), the Building with Seven Niches (Dwg. 1/3 southwest) and the Harbour Street (Dwg. 1, the north city, along the Olympos Çayı). The Roman Bath and Temple gate were scanned for its plan, cross-section and elevation. In the Harbour Street and the building with Seven Niches, only elevations could be obtained due to the roughness of the terrain. The data obtained from laser scanning on site was transferred to digital medium at the computers at the excavation house and the measurements were evaluated. The measurements were further elaborated in the office and drawings were prepared during the year.

Church (K4):
The 2006 campaign continued to make the plan drawings of religious architecture the function of which has been clearly identified. Within this frame, plans and drawings of the church on the west side of the Harbour Street in the north city have been completed. As in the overall character of the city, the complex of this structure is also surrounded by a high encircling wall. Although the church is quite small, it is surrounded with a wall together with the other spaces around it. Contrasting with other Lycian cities, there is no evidence that Olympos was surrounded by fortifications. The city is surrounded with high mountains on the north and south but it is open to attack from the sea to the east and from the land to the west. It is understood that defensive needs were supplied not through city walls but through the city’s layout, comprising introverted units closed to the outside. Thus, each complex was protected by its own high encircling walls.

The identification of such units within the city’s layout, that were digitally measured in the previous years, carry importance for our understanding of the previous condition of the city, change to it through the Byzantine period, and the city’s pattern. Therefore, the church and the spaces around it were mapped in detail both as an example of religious architecture and to identify the city’s pattern.

Harbour Basilica (K3):
Another focus of interest in the 2006 campaign was the structure on the south bank of the Olympos Çayı, formerly called the Harbour Basilica, of importance as it belongs to the Early Byzantine period of the city. The structure has a Hellenistic basilica layout and probably fell into ruins as a result of an earthquake because the supporting elements such as the columns and capitals had fallen into the nave. In addition, the stone blocks of the apse that were built from cut stone were removed by large tree roots. Detailed plan work began on the church in 2005 and it is important to document the present state of the church for the future restoration work. In this campaign, as the supporting elements were scattered around in a haphazard manner, and as the structure is under constant threat from nature, the present layout and relevé drawing were prepared.

Small Baths (H1):
The small baths are one of the three bathhouses in the city, located to the east of the Harbour Basilica in the south city. It was built in the Roman period and continued in use during the Byzantine period with some alterations (Fig. 2). The fact that its floor lies concealed beneath a thick layer of earth and its superstructure has completely collapsed made it impossible to understand its function in the medieval period. There is a water source that possibly supplied these baths and this water sources has turned the area to the north of the baths into marshy ground starting from the exterior walls of the structure.

It was understood that this structure was connected to the Harbour Basilica through new annexes in the Byzantine period and there exist late walls between these two independent structures. Therefore, the bathhouse was also surveyed extensively to prepare its relevé.

There is a square shaped room adjoining the south wall of the bathhouse; it was possibly built as a part of the hypocaust system. The room has baked clay bricks on the floor of the second storey. Because this area is visited by many tourists, this floor has been damaged; consequently drawings were made of it and it was then covered with creek sand in order to protect it from further damage.

Temple:
The area defined as the temple contains the monumental gate between the cella and the pronaos (Fig. 3) and the architectural blocks scattered around to the front and rear of the gate. The structure was built from the local limestone, which was a frequently preferred construction material both at Olympos and in other cities in Lycia. The monolithic blocks are cut and finely worked but some are left without final chiselling. The structure extends in a north-south direction and is surrounded by complexes built during the Byzantine period.

The facade of the gate is built from 13 rows of dressed stone with no mortar in between the blocks and this masonry technique of stone courses with no mortar is also found in some other Lycian cities. In the lower part, the stone blocks are larger. In the first row, the door’s lintel block is decorated with a partially worked pearl string motif on the bottom of the west wing, however, this does not continue on the top and it was left incomplete. From the second row, the masonry technique is isodomic employing one wide and one narrow block alternately. In the east wing, the corner block of the second row protrudes out and has a moulding profile. No block carries any stone master’s mark.

Storeroom work:
The 2006 campaign also included work at the storeroom. The finds from the excavation campaigns of 1991 and 1992 were kept at the storeroom and these were inventoried and documented. Stone pieces as well as ceramic and other finds were systematically recorded and arranged on shelves.

In recent years, Olympos has gained popularity among the youth as a holiday resort and consequently pressure on the site from tourism activities has been increasing. Especially in the Yazır Köyü area, facilities such as wooden houses and bungalows, most of which have been built illegally, are spreading and kiosks and restaurant facilities to serve the daily excursionists from the pensions nearby have begun to encroach upon the ruins of Olympos. Such facilities built without control or permission affect the historical structure negatively both physically and visually. These units sell both packed and organic products and the waste material has built up on the ancient city. Indeed such visitors are more interested in using the beach than visiting the ruins; for them the ancient site does not mean anything more than just an area supplying their daily needs.

There is an urgent need for watchmen who will keep an eye upon the area and prevent potential damage from humans and protect both the natural and the historical features of the site, most of which lies within the borders of the national park. In order to leave the site to future generations in a good condition in the course of excavations, there it is a pressing need to identify the balance between the use and the protection of the area.

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