Month: May 2012

Runic Scripts – Elder and Younger Futhark

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Elder Futhark

The oldest form of runic scripts, Elder Futhark is named for the first six runes in its alphabet, F, U, Th, A,R, and K. It was used in the North West of Europe from around the second to the eighth centuries AD and has been found on numerous artefacts ranging from jewellry and amulets to tools, weapons and the ever-popular runestone. From the sixth century, Younger Futhark began to develop out of the Elder form before it became prominent in scandinavia from the late eighth century. Later still the Anglo-Saxons and the Frisians developed it further into Anglo-Saxon Futhark. Unlike other forms of runes, the skill of reading Elder Futhark was lost overtime until it was rediscovered with its decipherment in 1865 by the Norwegian Sophus Bugge.


The Elder Futhark alphabet consists of twenty-four runes which are traditionally set out in three groups known as aett. The alphabetic order which gives the script its name is first attested from around 400 AD. The direction of the text tends to vary in the earliest inscriptions but it later appears to settle into running from left to right. There are no word divisions in the majority of inscriptions except in a few cases where a series of dots were used to separate words. The angular shapes that the runes are formed by are probably the result of the original incisions make by writing materials like those made by the reed implements to form cuneiform.


The alphabet itself is believed to be a derivation from Italic alphabets, possibly a form of Etruscan or Raetic or even Latin. There was a popular theory previously that the alphabet was derived from the Greek alphabet via the Gothic. However, the date of early inscriptions predates the Gothic communications with the Greeks and so this theory has been ruled out. It is believed that development of Elder Futhark was composed by a single person or group around the first century AD. The definite purpose for its invention is unknown but epigraphic purposes have been suggested alongside the magical, practical and the playful. Baeksted (1952) suggests use in graffiti.

The runes for F, A, G, T, M, and L appear to be identical to old Italic or Latin alphabetic forms. There is also some correspondence in the runes for U, R, K, H, S, B, and O. The rest of the runes are likely adaptations from other sources or original innovations with the creation of the scripts. The rune names are based on the sounds of the runes themselves but also have a basis in mythology, nature and the environment, daily life and the human condition.

Vimose Comb


As mentioned, inscriptions are found on a range of artefacts between the Carpathians and Lappland with the majority of examples hailing from Denmark. The oldest inscription found dates to 160 AD and is found on the Vimose Comb reading simply HARJA. The longest inscription found consists of 200 characters and dates to the eighth century Eggjum stone containing a stanza of Norse poetry.

Younger Futhark

Younger Futhark developed out of Elder Futhark in a transitional phase dating from around 650-800 AD. It is also known as Scandinavian runes and is referred to in the Book of Ballymore as the ‘Ogham of the Scandinavians’. It is a reduced form of Elder Futhark and is found in inscriptions from Scandinavia and Viking Age settlements. Younger Futhark is also known as the alphabet of the Norsemen and is believed to have been developed for use in trade and diplomatic contracts.


The alphabet consists of only sixteen characters which were in use from the ninth to the twelfth centuries. Its format consisted of distinct sounds and minimal pairs. One key rule in the younger Futhark texts is the avoidance of having the same rune twice in consecutive order.

Younger Futhark
Top Row = Long-Branch Runes
Bottom Row = Short-Twig Runes

Younger Futhark actual includes two scripts. The first is made up of long-branch runes which are believed to have been used for documentation on stone. The second script is made up of short-twig runes which were likely used for everyday uses, for private and official messages on wood. The short-twig forms include nine runes which appear as simplified variants of the long branch runes.


The Younger Futhark developed later into a range of additional scripts including Halsinge Runes, Middle Age Runes, and Latinised Dalecarlian Futhark.

Some Examples of Futhark Inscriptions:

Kalleby Runestone – The Kalleby Runestone dates to the Iron Age and includes a short text. It was found in Sweden in the region of Bohuslan and is believed to have been produced in the fifth century AD. It is an example of Period I Elder Futhark (150-550 AD). It reads:

þrawijan * haitinaz was

Yearning was imposed (on him). / Þrawija’s (monument). (I/he) was commanded/called. / (I/He) was promised to þrawija

Kalleby Runestone

Vadstena Bracteate – The Vadstena Bracteate is a gold C-bracteate found in Sweden dating to around 500AD.  It consists of an image of a four-legged animals with a man’s head above it with a bird separated by a line. This image is commonly associated with the Norse God Odin. The inscription reads:

tuwatuwa; fuþarkgw; hnijïpzs; tbemlŋo[d]

The translation is highly debated

Skåäng Runestone– The Skåäng Runestone is an elaborate stone dating to around the sixth century. It hails from Sweden and contains two inscriptions. The first inscription consists of Younger Futhark while the second is of Elder Futhark. The inscriptions reads:

§A Harja, Leugaz

§B Skammhals ok Olof þau letu gæra mærki þausi æftiR Svæin, faður sinn. Guð hialpi salu hans

§A Harja, Leugaz

§B Skammhals and Ólôf, they had these landmarks made in memory of Sveinn, their father. May God help his soul

Skaang Runestone

Istaby Runestone – The Istaby Runestone is found amoung the Rundata catalog (DR 359) and is a proto-Norse runestone found in Sweden dating to the Vendel era. It is currently located in the Swedish Museum of National Antiquities in Stockholm. It is an example of Period II Elder Futhark (550-700 AD). It reads:

AP Aftr Hariwulfa. Haþuwulfz HeruwulfizAQ Haþuwulfz Heruwulfiz aftr HariwulfaB wrait runaz þaiaz

AP In memory of Hariwulfar. Haþuwulfar, Heruwulfar’s son,AQ Haþuwulf(a)r, Heruwulfar’s son, in memory of HariwulfarB wrote these runes.

Istaby Runestone

Spearhead of Kovel – The Spearhead of Kovel is the head of a lance found in 1858 in Ukraine. It dates to around the third century AD and measures 15.5cm. The inscription on its blade reads from right to left TILARIDS meaning ‘thither rider’, which is interpreted as either the name of a warrior or of the spear itself. It is believed to be Gothic in origin.


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Isthmia: Roman Baths and Muscular Men

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Amazing Mosaic at Roman Bath Complex, Taken by myself 2008

Not entirely sure where my work is going today so I have thus decided to take a short break to tell you about one of the more interesting, actually the most interesting sites I have worked on so far: Isthmia, Greece.

Isthmia is a genitive noun with the meaning ‘of the Isthmus.’ It generally refers to the site that held the famous Isthmian Games near Korinth on the Isthmus. A natural assembly place for many Greeks and travellers.

Isthmia in Antiquity was one of Greece’s large Panhellenic sanctuaries and played host to the Isthmian Games (founded in 584BC) and hence held a special importance throughout the Greek and Roman periods, with its athletic and religious festivals coming second in significance only to Olympia. The Isthmian Games was held in the spring of the second and fourth years of each Olympiad and were believed to have originated with the King of Corinth Sisyphus or Theseus himself. They were open to all Greeks but were particularly popular with the Athenians. Romans were also allowed to take part from around 228/9 BC onwards. Unfortunately they, alongside the other great Games, left to the wayside with the rise to dominance of Christianity. In their heyday the Isthmian Games saw the implementation of the Isthmian Truce with was declared by Corinth to grant athletes safe passage through Greece.

The site is often associated with the events and matters of Korinth due to its close proximity and because it was administered by the city-state of Korinth. It was also a natural place for the sanctuary considering its place near the Isthmus and the many travellers that passed through on land and at ports. For instance, the Macedonians brought an army through the Isthmus in 225/4 to face another Achaian force trying to take Korinth. Due to its location, armies would frequently march through it with often disastrous consequences to the site and its temple. Even after the Isthmia had been abandoned between the late 7th century and 11th century AD, the Isthmus continued to be an important medieval and early modern strategic location.

The sanctuary was primarily dedicated to the worship of Poseidon with a large Doric temple to Poseidon being built around 700BC which was later replaces around 465 with a newer larger temple complex. The temple of Poseidon was discovered in 1952 by Oscar Broneer. Unfortunately, by the year 400AD with the force of Christianity, the sanctuary and the games at Isthmia had been abandoned. In its current state, the site of Isthmia includes The Sanctuary of Poseidon, an Upper sanctuary, Roman Bath (Including a beautiful mosaic floor), Greek Pool and fortress and Hexamilion (A wall constructed in the reign of Theodosiius II across the Isthmus), as well as an eastern field which still warrants investigation. Excavations have been carried out by The Ohio State University and the University of Chicago.

Remains of Roman Bath Complex

The Roman Bath at Isthmia was constructed around the mid-second century AD and it most often the focus of Isthmia in the current day. Artefacts in the form of pottery, walls and cement floors indicate that the area was used at least as late as the Byzantine era despite being abandoned as a bath in the late fourth century AD. An extremely elaborate structure, the Bath contained vaulted ceiling, sculptures, marble walls, and most obviously a huge Italian style monochrome mosaic accompanied by colossal statue bases and evidence of sculpture in what would most likely have been the great hall of the complex. Among an array of rooms, pools and furnaces is also highly sophisticated drainage systems and heating systems, with the drainage systems still in sufficient working order in the present day. The Roman Bath was built over a Greek structure; with the mosaic covering what was before hand a Greek pool.

A short but informative post I say. And now back to the realms of chapter writing on recurring themes of certain pieces of ancient Greek literature.

Ancient Sites of Cilicia, Anatolia: Part 2

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The wonderful thing about Cilicia is the pure number of fantastic sites that exist. So here is the second part of my preliminary research into sites in Cilicia in Anatolia.

If you haven’t already read PART 1 I suggest you start there 🙂


Evidence of occupation for Adana dates as far back as the Neolithic period and is considered to be the oldest city in the region. The city was of minor importance in the Roman Period but was used during the period of Pompey as a prison for the pirates of Cilicia. It also acted as a way station for troops of the Roman military heading eastwards. It split from the Roman Empire in 395 AD and received some development during the time of Julian the Apostate. Construction included large bridges, roads, government buildings and irrigation systems which allowed Adana to function more securely as an important trade centre.

Cilicia Campestris:

Campestris is located in the area of modern Mopsuestia, 20 km east of Antiochia ad Cragum. Its foundations are said to lie in the legend of the soothsayer Mopsus who lived there before the Trojan War. Pliny the Elder mentions the city as Mopsos in 5.22. It was named thus also by Stephanus of Byzantium and the Christian geographers. In the Seleucid Period it took the name Seleucia on the Pyramus and then in the Roman conquest it was named under Hadrian as Hadriana and under Decius as Decia.

Its main history lies in the Byzantine Period when Constantius II built a magnificent bridge over the Pyramus which was later restored by Justinian as told by Procopius. Christianity was introduced to the city in the third century AD and its association with Christianity continued until it was taken over by the Arabs and became Islam. Forts were also constructed in this period. Efforts were made by the Byzantines to re-Christianise the city in the eleventh century.


South Gate of Anazarbus

Anazarbus is also known as Ain Zarba, and is located in the present Cukurova. It is famous as the treasure city in the wars of Eumenes of Cardia as expressed by Suda but this claim is likely false in light of Strabo’s ideas. In the Roman period it was know as Caesarea and was part of Cilicia Secunda. It was rebuilt by Justin I in the 6th century and was thus renamed Justinopolis. Archaeological remains include a triumphal arch and colonnades of two streets, a gymnasium and a stadium and theatre. Acropolis fortifications also remain and the ruins of two churches, a gatehouse, and keep built by Thoros I in the twelve century. Aqueducts and a necropolis also remain.


Nephelium/Nephelion is located in the area of modern day Muzkent about 38km WNW of Anemurium on the coast at the foot of Mount Cragus. Nephelium is mentioned by Ptolemy and in the Stadiasmus maris magni. It was at one point the seat of a bishopric atthe council of Calchedon in 451 AD.

Antiochia ad Cragum:

Cove at Antiochia ad Cragum

And finally to the most important site, well to me because this is where my dig is. Antiochia ad Cragum has also been called Antiochetta and Antiohia Parva which basically translate to ‘little Antiochia’. Its name ‘Cragum’ comes from its position on the Cragus mountain overlooking the coast. It is located in the area of modern Guney about 12km from the modern city of Gazipasa. The city was officially founded after by Antiochis IV around 170BC when he came to rule over Rough Cilicia. The site covers an area of around three hectares and contains the remains of baths, market places, colonnaded streets with a gateway, an early Christian basilica, monumental tombs, a temple and several structures which are yet to be identified. Excavations are currently being undertaken by the Antiochia ad Cragum Archaeological Research Project headed by the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.

The site and its harbour likely served as one of the many havens for Cilician pirates along the South Anatolian coast, likely because of its small coves and hidden inlets. Unfortunately no definite pirate remains are visible in the modern day. Its pirate past ended with Pompey’s victory in the first century BC and the take over by Antiochis IV. Initial occupation appears to have occurred in the Classical and Hellenistic periods followed by a surge of activity in these Roman periods. The city itself was built on the sloping ground that comes down from the Taurus mountain range which terminates at the shore creating steep cliffs; in some places several hundred metres high. The temple complex is situated on the highest point of the city and most of the building material remains though in a collapsed state. There is also evidence of a gymnasium complex nearby.

The harbour at Antiochia ad Cragum measures about 250,000m squared and is one of the few large, safe harbours along the coast between Alanya and Selinus. On its Eastern side are two small coves suitable for one or two ships but with limited opportunity for shipping and fishing due to wave activities. The area is well situated as a defensible position against invaders. Recent Terrestrial survey at Antiochia ad Cragum has had emphasis on finding evidence of pirate activity which has been limited, but it has turned up pottery principally from the Byzantine period with additional pottery from the late Bronze Age, the Hellenistic and some from the Roman periods. There is little evidence of pre-Roman occupation at the fortress or pirate’s cove at Antiochia ad Cragum. Banana terracing may have caused much of the evidence to have been erased. The maritime survey has turned up shipping jars, transport Amphoraes and anchors from the Byzantine, Roman and Hellenistic periods as well as a range of miscellaneous items. The assemblage appears to indicate early activity to the West of the harbour moving East over time.


Remains at Hamaxia

Hamaxia is located in Western Cilicia in the area of modern Sinekkale about 6km from Coracesium. There is little literature about the site but the archaeology includes well-preserved evidence of a walled-in settlement with an arched gate on its South side and a three-naved church in its West. There is also a necropolis in the North-West. Hamaxia is mentioned in Strabo 668 and in Stadiasmus 208. Inscriptions indicate that Hamaxia only achieved a city status in the early third century BC. Even the few pieces of literature we do have mentioning Hamaxia appear confused. Strabo says that the city lies to the East of Coracesium while Stadiasmus says it lies to the West.

Hamaxia is situated on a high hill which is now heavily overgrown. The archaeology that remains includes ashlar masonry of the walls which is preserved in a large part and some remains of the interior of temples, one of Hermes, the other unknown. Two exedras have been located facing one another and the inscriptions are numerous. The inscriptions detail names mostly of an epichoric nature and a few with Roman personal names. According to Strabo there was also a port on the coast nearby where the timber for shipbuilding was brought, but this port is yet to be found if it exists.


The Lamos is a river which formed the boundaries between Cilicia Campestris and Cilicia Trachea and later between Cilicia Aspera and Propria. Antiochia Lamotis is the city closesly associated with the Lamos at its mouth. Antiochis Lamotis was itself originally called Lamos and is formerly the capital of the surrounding region known as the Lamotis during the Roman period. The city Lamos/Antiochis Lamotis is located a few km southwest of Modern Erdemli. It was founded in the Hellenistic period.


Maiden’s Castle at Korykos

Korykos/Corcus is located at the mouth of the river Şeytan deresi in the area of Modern Kızkalesi. Korykos is mentioned in the ancient literature by Pliny, Livy, Pomponius Mela and Stephanus of Byzantium, but curiously not Strabo who provides comments on most of the other major cities in Cilicia. The city was an important habour and commerce area and was a port of the Seleucids before the Romans took over when it became a lookout for Romans to look out for pirates.

Korykos was later controlled by the Byzantine Empire when Justinian I constructed the public baths and hospital. Alexios I Komnenos constructed the later fortress and in the 12th century a castle was built nearby on a small island known as ‘Maiden’s Castle’. The archaeology of Korykos is vast and includes a triumphal arch and necropolis with Christian tombs and sarcophagi. In addition to the Roman archaeology there are two medieval castles in Korykos, one on the shore and the ‘Maiden’s Castle’ which is connected to the shore by the ruins of a pier. The mainland castle walls contain many pieces of columns from previous buildings. Three churches have also been excavated, one of which still had the remains of frescos. The city walls can also still be traced.

Strabo may not mention the city of Korykos but he does mention a Corycian cave in which he says grows the best Saffron (Crocus). The Coryian Cave was a circular hollow filled with shrubs and containing a spring. It is famed in Greek mythology as the cave of Pindar and Aeschylus as the lair of Zeus’ opponent, the giant Typhon.


Castle at Analya/Coracesium

Coracesium was located in the area of Alanya about 160km from modern Antalya. Archaeology indicates that there was occupation in the area as far back as the Paleolithic period with subsequent evidence for the bronze age. There is evidence for Phoenician interaction dating to around 625BC with the existence of Phaenician language tablets and the city is found in the Greek record in a fourth century BC geography manuscript known as the periplus of Pseudo-Scylax. The rock where the castle is now situated was probably first inhabited by the Hittites and then under the Achaemenid Empire. It was only first fortified though in the Hellenistic period following the conquest of Alexander the Great. Coracesium later came under the control of the Ptolemies and later a popular port of refuge for the notorious Cilician pirates. Like much of the surrounding area, the piracy in Coracesium ended with the victory of Pompey in the first century BC, with the battle of Korakesion fought in the city’s harbour.

Coracesium later moved into the control of the Byzantine Empire and then Islam arrived in the seventh century with the Arab raids. This also led to additional fortifications being built. Numerous bishoprics and battles were undertaken throughout the medieval period onwards. The medieval period also saw the construction of the impressive Alanya castle and the Ottomans also brought with them an array of architecture.

And with that I run out of time for the day but I’m sure if I get round to it there will be more on the way 🙂

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Ancient Sites of Cilicia, Anatolia: Part 1

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Hello Everyone, this post is going to be a little different from the informative posts I usually write because I am excited! Not long now and I am off on my next archaeological dig, this time to Turkey!!!

Friends keep telling me to blog as I go so I guess I will, so welcome to a series of posts focused on my archaeological adventures in Turkey. My 7th international dig in the last 6 years.

Post 1: Where on earth am I going this time!?!

Truth be told I don’t know much about Turkey/Anatolia. My area of research is generally Greece but with the progression of my PhD into unknown realms, I’m taking the opportunity to go and partake in some research and data collection and at the same time increase my archaeological skills in Cilicia in Southern Turkey.

I warn you, this post is going to be quite long so get your cup of tea now!

So here is an opportunity for some preliminary research and to create a post on the ancient sites of Cilicia.


Political map of Asia Minor in 500 BC
Political map of Asia Minor in 500 BC

The region of Cilicia is located in the southern part of Anatolia and was officially founded by Antiochis IV in the first century AD though it has a complex history before this time. Located on an active Mediterranean trade route, Cilicia is generally associated with its area of native rebellion and piracy. Cilician pirates particularly dominated between 133 and 67 BC when they were defeated by Pompey the Great. Pompey revolutionised warfare at this time by offering the pirates a peaceful chance to surrender and receive leniency.

Cilicia is surrounded by a natural fortress provided by the Taurus Mountains to the North and East and the Mediterranean on the South with a coast full of ideal hiding places for pirates. Archaeological features in many areas include mooring, construction of buildings and shore access, stairs, defensive walls, fortresses, submerged columns, anchor remains and shipping jars, indicative of a coastal culture. Within Cilicia are two sub-regions known as Flat/Smooth Cilicia or Cilicia Pedias (the Eastern region), and Rough Cilicia or Cilicia Tracheia.  Evidence from the 13th century BC indicates that the region was originally called Kedi/Kode before the fall of the Assyrian Empire in the 7th century BC when it became an independent region ruled by the Syennesis dynasty of kings and then being absorbed into the Persian Empire by Cyrus the Great.

The pirate attacks in Cilicia appear to originally have been directed against Seleucid Kings involving slave and wine trade before they became more indiscriminate at the end of the 2nd century BC and defensive walls were built. Rome thus implemented an official ban of pirate interactions in 102-100 BC and created the Roman province of Cilicia to legitimise these laws. The general M.Antonius was commissioned to curb the pirate menace while the pirates allied themselves to the King of Pontus, Mithridates, to fight against Roman dominance. Eventually they were defeated by Pompey and Mithridates committed suicide in 63 BC. With this the Pontic kingdom also became a Roman province attached to Bithynia. The death of Julius Caesar saw some minor pirate wars in succeeding years but these were easily curbed.

At one point Cilicia was gifted to Cleopatra VII by Anthony but with their deaths it was again split up and handed over in part to Antiochis IV of Commagene. While older tribes such as the Cetae, Lalasseis and Cennatae stayed settled in certain areas of Cilicia, Cilicia then became two Byzantine provinces; Cilicia Prima and Secunda.


Ruins of Iotape in Rough Cilicia

Iotape, also known as Aytap, is a port city about 30km east of Alanya. The first archaeological evidence for human settlement comes from the first century AD though there is a concensus that it was earlier inhabited by tribes. It was originally founded by Antiochis IV in 52AD after he took control of Cilicia. Antiochis named the city for his wife Iotapa and it became Iotape (η Ιωτάπη).

The city is in an excellent place because of its natural harbour for trade and agriculture and its higher plateau where the settlement is protected from the sea and invasions from the coast. The natural harbour is made up of two bays measuring around 100m. Archaeological survey and excavation has uncovered ruins of an Acropolis with huge walls built around it to provide defense. Coins have been found indicating that Iotape included a mint which produced coins from the reign of Trajan to Valerian. There are also remains of Roman sewers, a necropolis and monumental tombs and sculptures, Roman baths, inscriptions and a rectangular Basilica to the East of the Acropolis. Temple ruins have also been excavated with surviving frescos within the city centre of the modern city.


Coin of Faustina II from Selinus, Cilicia with a veiled Demeter and Kore on the reverse

Selinus is now located in the area of modern Gazipasa and has settlement evidence from as far back as the Hittites in 2000 BC. Selinus was established on the River Kestros and is now called Hacimusa and was incorporated into Cilicia in 628 BC. It is located about 180 km to the East of Antalya on the Southern coast of Anatolia.

Selinus became part of the Roman Empire in 197 BC and became particularly famous in the first century AD when the Emperor Trajan died there. As a consequence, for some time Selinus was known as Traianapolis. Selinus later became part of the Byzantine Empire alongside the rest of Cilicia before falling into the hands of the Turks in 1225 AD. It is listed among the castles of Gazipasa alongside Iotape, Lamus, Nephelis and Antiochia ad Cragum and is still subject to archaeological research by a team from Florida State University. The archaeological artefacts from Selinus are now mostly housed in the museum of Alanya.


Public Bath House Remains at Anemurium

Anemurium is now the modern city of Anamur located at the most southern part of Anatolia closest to Cyprus. Archaeological evidence at the site reveals Roman occupation through the ruins of theatres, tombs and walls which are in part still visible today. The modern excavations at the site are being undertaken by the University of British Colombia though former excavations have been undertaken by the University of Toronto in the 1960s and by English Naval explorers in the 19th century.

The tombs at Anemurium appear to date back to the 1st century AD until the Arab invasions of the 650s AD. In addition to the theatre complex, excavations have turned up an odeon and several bath complexes with Mosaic floors, four early Christian churches, a basilica and aqueducts. Numismatic evidence also shows that the city had a mint which produced coins from the first to the third centuries AD when it was eventually captured by the Sassanians.


Tarsus is located inland from the Mediterranean by about 20km in the area of Cilicia. The city is located on a major trade route which increased its prosperity over its 2000 years of known historical contribution. It was an important point of intersection between the land and sea routes making it a significant place of commerce. At one point it was the accepted capital of Cilicia in the Roman Empire and held fame for being the meeting place of Anthony and Cleopatra as well as being the birthplace of Paul the Apostle.

Ancient Road in Tarsus from Roman Period

Excavations at Tarsus reveal that occupation dates back to the Neolithic period and continues throughout the Chalcolithic and Early Bronza Age. Excavations of the ancient city have been limited due to the placement of the modern city but much of the history of the city is known through literary accounts. Tarsus is mentioned in the campaigns of Esarhaddon and in the records of Shalmaneser I and Sennacherib. The foundation of the city itself is unclear but legends spring up in the Roman period and the geographer Strabo asserts that it was founded by explorers from Argos. At first it appears that Tarsus was ruled by the Hittites before falling into the hands of the Assyrians and the Persian Empire. It was a Persian satrapy from around 400 BC and is mentioned by Xenophon in his record of the march of Cyrus the Younger.

The patron god of Tarsus was Sandon throughout the majority of its established history down to the third century AD. And further fame was accorded to Tarsus as it was affected by the passing through of Alexander the Great in 333 BC. Tarsus was also famed for its schools and a library which were said to rival Athens and Alexandria. Around this time Tarsus was also known as Antiochia on the Cydnus. When Pompey defeated the pirates in Cilicia, Tarsus became subject to Rome and took the name Juliopolis. Subsequent to this and the birth of Paul the Apostle, Tarsus held a long and prosperous ecclesiastical association and history.


Claudiopolis, or Ninica as the area was formerly called, was a colony founded by Clausius Caesar and mentioned in Ammianus alongside Silifke in his list of the cities of Cilicia. It is located between the two Taurus mountains in the basin of the Calycadnus which was drained by the Calycadnus. Claudiopolis is often associated with the Calycadnus river’s Northern and Western branches and the passes over the mountains from Laranda. While Pliny and Ptolemy both mention cities by the names of Claudiopolis, only Ammianus’ reference refers definitely to the Claudiopolis of Cilicia. Not much else about Claudiopolis is known.


Besikil Cave Monument at Seleucia

Silifke is also known as Seleucia of Seleukeia and is located on the coast of Southern Anatolia on the banks of the Goksu River which flows from the Taurus mountains. It was founded by Seleucus I Nicator in the 3rd century BC as one of several cities he named after himself. Earlier occupation layers suggest that there was already a settlement on the site, possibly the twoens of Olbia and Hyria which were united under the establishment of Seleucia. The nearby settlement of Holmi was also incorporated into Seleucia in later years as Holmi became vulnerable to pirate attacks so that it was safer in incorporation. Seleucia rivalled Tarsus in commerce and trade.

In the second century BC, the city became an important religious centre surrounding the temple of Jupiter. It received further fame as the site of famous schools of literature and philosophy and as the birthplaces of Athenaeus and Xenarchus. Later additions were added to the city by L.Octavius Memor in 77AD who constructed the stone bridge among other buildings and in 300 AD Seleucia became the capital of the Byzantine state of Isauria. Following this Seleucia was a prosperous area of Christianity and councils were held there by the early Christian bishopd in 325, 359 and 410 AD. It also is the resting place of the famous tomb of the virgin saint Thecla of Iconium who was converted by Saint Paul. The tomb was celebrated and restored many times over the years, most notably by the Emperor Zeno in the 5th century.


Colonnaded Street in Diocaesarea

Diocaesarea is the Roman name of the modern city of Uzuncaburç. Its history spans from the Seleucid period and the majority of the archaeology comes from the Roman peiord. Among the archaeology we find the ruins of the temple of Tyche dating to the reign of Vespasian or Domitian in the 1st century AD. The worship of Tyche though is thought to date back to the Seleucid period because Tyche was venerated in all the cities founded by Seleucus. Remains also remain of the city walls and gates which reveal inscriptional evidence indicating that the gate was erected at the end of the fourth century AD by the emperor Arcadius. The fortifications are believed to have been to cull the threat of mountain dwellers in Cilicia who were believed to be a permanent threat to Roman interests.

Monumental arches mark the start of colonnaded streets towards the temple of Tyche which would have once been fenced by numerous statues. There are also the remains of a nymphaeum, a fountain house, and an aqueduct spanning a good twenty km and which still functions as the water supply for many modern villages. A Roman theatre complete with inscriptions and fortification towers are also still visible from the third century BC and a mausoleum


Port Remains from 3000 BC at Sydra

Syedra is located near the modern town of Seki about 17km southeast of Coracesium. Ancient literature mentions it in Lucian in the first century BC after a phase of complex power struggles which placed Syedra in the province of Pamphylia in the time of Tiberius in the first century AD. Archaeological remains of Syedra include well preserved baths and a theatre, cisterns and city walls on the site of a rounded mountain top near the coast line.

Archaeological evidence for a port at Syedra also exist dating far earlier to the Bronze age period. The monumental door still marks the the entrance to the Roman city of Syedra and painted frescos remain within carved niches in the stone of caves. One of these caves is famously known as a baptising cave. The bath building is located to the east of the town with mosaic floors and columned street remains can be found to the west of the bath complex. The excavations thus far have been conducted mostly by the Directorate of the Alanya Museum where much of the material evidence is now housed. The oldest ruins and inscriptions appear to date to the thirteenth century AD with the earliest dating to the eight or seventh century BC.


Remains of the Laertes Fortress in Cilicia

For information on Laertes I turn to Strabo who tells us that Laertes was a fortress situated upon the crest of a hill, of a pap-like form. It is located east of Syedra and Northwest of Coracesium. The route up to the fortress is defended by two spaced towers and by a stretch of wall. Underneath the fortress is an underground building consisting of three vaulted passages which could have functioned as a storehouse. Additionally on the North side are the remains of a long paved street which would have been originally lined by statues supposedly of Roman emperors. On the south side of the street are the remains of a building approached by steps which is believed to be a council house and numerous statues. To the west are the remains of an agora bordered by a long pavement, an exedra and a large apsed building comprising of complex halls. Other remains of houses and buildings are spread throughout the area with the main necropolis on the mountain slope to the south of the city.

Well I told you it would be a long post, so I have decided to split it. Continue on to PART 2 (Which is currently being written)

In PART 2 we look at:


Cilicia Campestris



Antiochia ad Cragum





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