Urartian bronze Helmet
The Urartians were a people that flourished in the mountainous highlands around Lake Van from the late 9th century to the early 6th century B.C. They borrowed heavily from the Assyrians, plundered their neighbors for cattle and prisoners and were one of Assyria’s main rivals. After a violent and mysterious collapse, their kingdom later became the homeland of the Armenians.

According to the Metropolitan Museum of Art: “Urartu was one of several first millennium B.C. states that came into existence and prominence in Anatolia (modern Turkey) after the destruction of the Hittite state around 1200 B.C. (others include Phrygia, Tabal, and Lydia). These states were kingdoms, each with its own language, ethnicity, religion, and characteristic material culture. [Source: Department of Ancient Near Eastern Art. "Urartu", Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History, New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, October 2004, Metropolitan Museum of Art \^/]

“In their inscriptions, the Assyrians of Mesopotamia refer to the Urartians as their northern enemies from the eleventh to the seventh centuries B.C. However, the earliest known Urartian written document, a rock inscription at Van (ancient Tushpa), records the earliest reference to the state. There it says that Urartu was ruled by a king named Sarduri (r. ca. 840–830 B.C.), and mentions a male deity, Haldi, the supreme god throughout Urartian history. Urartu was centered in eastern Anatolia, around Lake Van; the capital, Tushpa, was located on the eastern shore of the lake, situated on a high and elongated rock outcrop. In the late ninth century B.C., the state expanded north into the Caucasus, where an Urartian presence was established at sites like Karmir Blur and Armavir. The Urartians also moved east across the formidable Zagros Mountains into northwestern Iran, where many rock-cut texts and various sites—such as Hasanlu, Agrab Tepe, and Bastam—inform us of their local conquests and achievements.\^/

“Sometime in the second half of the seventh century B.C., every Urartian site known from excavations in Anatolia, Iran, and the Caucasus was destroyed, and, judging from artifact evidence, closely in time to one another. The precise date of this massive organized action and the identity of the perpetrators are still being investigated. Some scholars have suggested that the enemy was the nomadic Scythians and/or the Medes.” \^/

Books: Merhav, Rivka Urartu: A Metalworking Center in the First Millennium B.C.. Jerusalem: Israel Museum, 1991. Piotrovskii, Boris B. Urartu. Geneva: Nagel, 1969.

Urartian Culture, Life and Art

Urartian inscribed bronze shield
According to the Metropolitan Museum of Art: “ Beginning in the nineteenth century and continuing to the present, many Urartian sites have been excavated and studied. It is clear that these sites functioned as administrative centers to collect taxes and control and protect the local area. They housed an appointed governor and his military and civil staff, as well as the Urartian king when he traveled. The sites share a number of features. Most were newly built on heights, not on top of old destroyed city mounds. Some were prominently, even dramatically situated, like Tushpa and Ayanis in eastern Anatolia and Bastam in Iran. Most sites boasted a well-built temple situated at the highest point, as well as a number of large storage rooms containing rows of large vessels for storing oil and grains, and massive well-built fortification walls. An outer town, where soldiers, farmers, craftsmen, and others lived, is known from the excavations at the site of Ayanis, overlooking northern Lake Van. Some Urartian cemeteries have been found, but the only excavated elite tomb is a late eighth-century B.C. example at Altintepe, in Anatolia, where a large cauldron with four bullhead handles was recovered. [Source: Department of Ancient Near Eastern Art. "Urartu", Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History, New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, October 2004, Metropolitan Museum of Art \^/]

“The Urartians adapted the Assyrian cuneiform writing system, and the inscription of Sarduri I, referred to above, is written in the Assyrian language; his son Ishpuini (r. ca. 830–810 B.C.) and later rulers all wrote in the Urartian language (distantly related to the isolated non-Indo-European, non-Semitic Hurrian language). Very few examples of writing exist on clay tablets, but about 500 rock-cut inscriptions found throughout the extensive Urartian territories, as well as inscriptions on hundreds of objects, are known. The former record military campaigns, religious rituals to be performed, names of the many deities in the Urartian pantheon, and agricultural, building, and waterworks activities.” \^/

“From early in the kingdom's history, very characteristic artifacts were manufactured, including hundreds of bronze belts along with shields, quivers, helmets, bells, horse equipment, jewelry, and ceramic and metal vessels of many forms. Many of these artifacts bear royal inscriptions and are decorated with characteristic motifs and scenes, which consist of various deities and composite otherworldly creatures, royal rituals, hunts, battles, and genre scenes. They continued to be made until Urartu was destroyed. Unfortunately, a large number of these artifacts, including most of the inscribed objects, have not been excavated. For example, many Urartian cemeteries with their hundreds of burial goods have been robbed, while only a few (such as the cemetery at Altintepe) have been properly excavated. This means that archaeologists have been deprived of a complete and contextual knowledge of the culture.” \^/


Phrygian tomb in Midas City, Easkisehir

The Phrygians are a mysterious people that entered Anatolia from the Balkans around 1200 B.C. Occupying territory that used to be under Hittite control, they established a relatively peaceful kingdom, prospered from trade and wrote their Indo-European language in a as yet undeciphered script that resembled Greek. They possessed iron weapons and rode in fast, lightweight chariots. What is known about them is based on archeological work, Greek myths, and history. They are associated with the myth of King Mydas. [Sources: Elizabeth Simpson, Archeology magazine, July 2001; Discover, November 2000]

According to the Metropolitan Museum of Art: “Phrygia is the Greek name of an ancient state in western-central Anatolia (modern Turkey), extending from the Eskishehir area east to (perhaps) Bogazköy and Alishar Hüyük within the Halys River bend. The Assyrians, a powerful state in northern Mesopotamia to the south, called the state Mushki; what its own people called it is unknown. We know from their inscriptions that the Phrygians spoke an Indo-European language. Judging from historical records supported by ceramic evidence, settlers migrating from the Balkans in Europe first settled here a hundred or more years following the destruction of the Hittite empire (ca. 1200 B.C.). [Source: Department of Ancient Near Eastern Art. "Phrygia, Gordion, and King Midas in the Late Eighth Century B.C.", Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History, New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, October 2004, \^/]

Phrygia and the Greek world were closely connected, as demonstrated by the Phrygian borrowing of the Greek alphabet (possibly during Midas' reign), Greek knowledge of Phrygian music, and the fact that Midas is said to have married an eastern Greek princess—a typical expression of a royal alliance. For centuries the Greeks also remembered that Midas had sent his sumptuous throne (probably made of inlaid wood) as an offering to the sanctuary at Delphi, most probably seeking an oracle. Ancient historians inform us that Midas killed himself in despair after the Cimmerians destroyed his city and kingdom. Nonetheless, Phrygia continued to exist and prosper for decades after the destruction. The state was eventually conquered by Lydians from the west, and then incorporated in turn into the empires of Persia, Alexander the Great, and Rome.

Books: Muscarella, Oscar W. "Phrygian or Lydian?" Journal of Near Eastern Studies 30, no. 1 (1971), pp. 49–63.. n/a: n/a, n/a. Ramage, Andrew, and Paul Craddock King Croesus' Gold: Excavations at Sardis and the History of Gold Refining. Cambridge, Mass.: British Museum Press, 2000; Books: Kealhofer, Lisa, ed. The Archaeology of Midas and the Phrygians: Recent Work at Gordion. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology, 2005. Muscarella, Oscar W. "King Midas of Phrygia and the Greeks." In Anatolia and the Ancient Near East: Studies in Honor of Tahsin Özgüç, edited by Kutle Emre et al., pp. 323–44.. Ankara: Türk Tarih Kurumu Bas¹mevi, 1989. Muscarella, Oscar W. "The Iron Age Background to the Formation of the Phrygian State." Bulletin of the American School of Oriental Research 299–300 (1995), pp. 91–101.. n/a: n/a, n/a.

Phrygian Life

The Phrygians drank strong grape wine, barely beer and mead. Often all three were mixed together. They ate goat and sheep stew. Analysis of stew samples found in the tomb of King Midas indicated the sheep or goat was basted in olive oil, honey and spices and was added to the stew along with lentils, olive oil, wine, fennel, honey and spices. They didn’t bury valuable objects with their dead.

Gordion's Megaron pebble mosaic

Patrick McGovern, a molecular archeologist at the University of Pennsylvania Museum, found evidence the Phrygians produced a grog that was part wine, part beer and part mead and other stuff from the remains of a funeral feast held in 700 B.C., perhaps for King Midas. McGovern reconstructed the feast and the alcoholic drinks. He told Time the grog was a delightful concoction “with a saffron taste that caught at the back of the throat and drew you back for more.”The Phrygians worshiped Cybele, an ancient Anatolian Mother Goddess who arrived on earth, according to legend, in the form of a black meteorite and enjoyed clawing her companion’s animals. Lions are a common theme in Phrygian art.

The Phrygians were skilled carpet weavers, metalworkers, musicians, sculptors and mosaic makers. According to legend, the famous Phrygian, Marsyas, beat Apollo in a lyre-playing contests judged by Midas. For his troubles he was flayed alive by Apollo, who bestoyed on Midas his ass’s ears.

The Phrygians developed an innovative metal-fusing technique that made bronze objects shine like gold. The high zinc content of their bronze made it almost like brass, which is shiny like gold. This may have given birth to the Midas gold legend.

The Phrygian Highland (north of Afyon) is region inhabited by the obscure Phrygian kingdom of King Midas. The sites are set among huge stone outcropping and severe mountains and feature monumental bas-reliefs, tombs, shrines caves carved into the rock faces made the same material, tufa, carved up in Capedochia. There are maybe a dozen Phrygian sites altogether. Many of the sights are hard to find. Locate yourslef a taxi driver that knows where they are.

Ayazin (12 miles north of Afyon) has some Phrygian and Roman tombs. Aslantas (25 miles north of Afyon) means “lion stone.” There are two massive lions carved into the rocks. They have their fangs bared and shown leaping at each other. Not far the head of another lion has fallen from a cliff face. They were carved in the 8th or 7th century B.C. Midas Sehri (40 miles north of Afyon) is set among mesas and interesting rock formations. The shrine to Cybele here honors an ancient Anatolian Mother Goddess. Carved into a cliff face 56 feet above the ground, it features a pedimented facade and a central panel with geometric designs. Nearby in Kumbut there are two impressive Phrygian tombs.

King Midas

Throne of Pelops
Mount Sipylus, Manisa Turkey
King Midas was the legendary king with the ears of an ass and golden touch. He ruled Phrygians around 700 B.C. There are references to King Midas in Assyrian documents and the writings by Herodotus. Reference to a King Mita (likely King Midas) are found in the records of the Assyrian kings Sargon II (721-05 B.C.) and Eusenios ( A.D. 260-339). Strabo wrote Midas committed suicide around the time of an invasion by the nomadic Cimmerians, which occurred around 700 B.C.

According to the Metropolitan Museum of Art: “The most famous of the Phrygian kings is a man called Midas by the Greeks and Mita by the Assyrians. He ruled in the last decades of the eighth century B.C. One of the large royal buildings uncovered at Gordion was probably his palace. Today Midas is known primarily from Greek historical records, but the name also appears in two rock inscriptions, one east, one west of Gordion, and "Mita of Mushki" is mentioned in Assyrian texts dating to 717, 709, and the 670s B.C. Greek historical, legendary, and mythical stories about Midas—preserved in both texts and art—relate that he had the ears of an ass and, as a gift from the gods, everything he touched turned to gold. One legend claims that a man named Midas or his father Gordios began the royal Phrygian dynasty, thus fulfilling an oracle; both names continued to alternate as royal names. [Source: Department of Ancient Near Eastern Art. "Phrygia, Gordion, and King Midas in the Late Eighth Century B.C.", Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History, New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, October 2004, \^/]

In 696 B.C., the Phrygians were attacked by the Cimmerians, mysterious horseman from the Caucasus. They burned the Gordion. Not wanted to witness the destruction, according to legend, King Midas killed himself by drinking bull’s blood. His people survived to build a new less grand city.

King Midas Legend

According to legend, Midas eager to understand the meaning of life spikes a pool in his rose garden with wine in an effort to catch a wine-loving satyr, who is knowledgeable about such things. He succeeds and snags Silenus, the wisest of all the satyrs. The king and the satyr sit down for a drink and discuss life and the kings let him go,

According to Ovid’s version of legend, Dionysus is so grateful for the satyr’s safe return he gives Midas a wish. Midas wised for a golden touch. At first he’s overjoyed: everything he touches tuns to gold: stones, trees, first, branches, columns and apples. When he sits down to dinner he realizes he has a problem When he touches his bread and drinks his wine they turn to gold. Starving he pleads to the gods for help and is relieved of his golden touch with a dip in the River Pactolus, which from then on contains golden sand.


On another occasion, King Midas comes across a musical contest between the pipe-playing Pan and the lyre-playing Apollo. Everyone who is present says that Apollo’s music is sweet except Midas who chooses Pan. Insulted, Apollo gives Midas donkey ears. From then on Midas wears a purple turban. Only his barber knows his secret. The barber tells the secret to the earth, who tells it to the reeds who reveal it every they rustle in the breeze.


According to the Metropolitan Museum of Art: “Most of what is known about Phrygian archaeology and its language derives from excavations at the capital city Gordion, located about sixty miles southwest of the modern Turkish capital of Ankara (also a Phrygian site). Gustav and Alfred Körte first excavated Gordion in 1900. The excavators did not reach Phrygian levels but they did reveal burials dated to the late eighth century B.C. with Phrygian ceramic, metal, and wooden artifacts. From 1950 to 1973, Rodney S. Young of the University of Pennsylvania led excavations at Gordion. Archaeological work at the site was resumed in 1988 and continues to the present.[Source: Department of Ancient Near Eastern Art. "Phrygia, Gordion, and King Midas in the Late Eighth Century B.C.", Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History, New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, October 2004, \^/]

Aside from architecture and artifact remains in the Gordion destruction level, important material was recovered from tumulus burials at Gordion, Ankara, and Elmali. Among the most important are those from Gordion, especially the largest and richest Phrygian burial (over 50 meters in height, 300 meters in diameter), called "Midas Mound" (MM). It was probably built by Midas for his predecessor and contains a large quantity of Phrygian objects along with imported goods probably from northern Syria. Among the former are masses of bronze and brass vessels and fibulae (safety pins) of various forms, and exquisite inlaid wooden furniture; of the imported goods are large bronze cauldrons with handles in the form of winged human busts, and animal-headed pouring vessels. Other characteristic Phrygian artifacts include bronze belts, wood and bronze animal figurines, and decorated pottery painted with geometric motifs or with friezes of animals.

Many artifacts, sumptuous architecture, massively built fortification walls, and the contents of thirty-six tumulus burials from Gordion have now been excavated. This evidence demonstrates that Phrygia was both rich and powerful, and in active contact with neighboring states, including Greece. It flourished from early in the eighth century B.C. to around 700 B.C., when Gordion was violently destroyed by a massive fire. Ancient historians claim the Cimmerians, a nomadic people from north of the Caucasus Mountains, caused the destruction.

Tomb of King Midas at Gordion

Gordion (south of Ankara) today is a set of unimpressive ruins situated on the site of the former Phyrgian capital. The great earth burial mound of King Midas, the man with golden touch, is located here. The tomb dates to 718 B.C. based on the dated of tree rings in the juniper logs used in the burial chamber, which is regarded by some as the oldest wooden structure in the world.

It is not known for certain if the tomb really belongs to King Midas but there is a good chance it does (dates of the tomb match written references to King Midas in Assyrian records, the tomb’s size indicated it belonged to someone important). The largest of 80 Phrygian tombs in the region, the tomb was 175 feet high and 100 feet in diameter. Erosion has taken away 55 feet. Work on the tomb is believed to have continued long after death of the occupant. The low moisture content, stable environment of the surroundings preserved items inside.

20120209-Nemrut_dag_temple 2.jpg
Nemrut dag
Deep within the mound was a 17-x-20-foot pine chamber encased with wooden timbers excavated in 1955 and 1956 by Rodney Young of the University of Pennsylvania Museum. Object recovered included drinking vessels, lion- and ram-headed situla (buckets) used in the funerary feats, elaborate inlaid furniture, a serving table described as the world’s oldest piece of inlaid furniture, pottery bowls, large metal cualdrons on iron stands, textiles, 100 bronze bowls, but no gold. . The first people inside they tomb said they smelled stew.

Analysis of the remains revealed a clean-shaved man, with a protruding lip and skull flattened on the back, who died when he was between 60 and 65. The protruding lip and flattened skull may have been the result of accidents. The tomb occupant was five-foot-two and wore leather pants. His body was found in a coffin cut from a cedar log and placed on a pile of textiles and wooden bed. The tomb had no door. The coffin and bed and other items had to be taken apart to be lowered into the tomb and then reassmbled,

In side the tomb were remains of Phrygian feast with strong grape wine, barely beer and mead, goat and sheep stew made with lentils, olive oil, wine, fennel, honey and spices. Today the juniper log burial chamber tomb can be reached by a tunnel through the burial mound. Many of the best artifacts are at the Museum of Anatolian Civilizations in Ankara. Artifacts in the Gordion Museum include a mosaic floor dated to 750 B.C., decorative saftey pins, numerous bronze bowls designed for finger scooping; cermaic cups; a small bone flute; and clay statuetes of the Phrygian mother earth goddess

Nemrut Dag and the Commagene Kingdom

Nemrut dag
Nemrut Dağ (500 miles southeast of Ankara) is another one of Turkey's impressive sites. It is so impressive in fact that several books about wonders of the world have featured it on their cover. Located on top of a 7000-foot-high mountain, Nemrut Dağ consists of a gigantic tumulus (burial mound) and two sets of funerary statues.

Nemrut Dağ is the world's largest artificial mound. Over 197 feet high and covering 7.5 acres, it was built by the a self-absorbed monarch named King Antiochus I (69-34 B.C.), of the obscure Commagene kingdom, to commemorate himself. It takes about 20 minutes just to walk around the massive pile of shale and fist-size stones, and, as you stroll along, your heart cries for all the poor slaves that dragged these stones to the top of the mountain.

On the south side of the tumulus are a bunch of stone heads. Some of the heads are as tall as a full grown basketball players and all of them are in surprisingly good condition, except for a few chipped noses and cracked brows here and there. The one with handlebar mustache is the Commagene king, and he has placed himself among his "peers" — a lion, an eagle, Zeus, Hercales and Apollo and several Greek and Persian gods.

On the northern side of the tumulus is another set of impressive statues. The heads here as almost as large as those on the southern side except they have bodies to go along with them. Again the king has placed himself among gods and eagles, who, on this side, are all seated on thrones, and declared that they would be “unravaged by the outages of time.” The only problem is the 30 foot high bodies were decapitated by an earthquake a few centuries ago and now the heads are positioned on the ground. The complex also incides a cave cistern, some releifs and ruins of columns.

The Commagene kingdom was a border kingdom between the Roman Empire and Persia. It existed from 162 B.C., when it won independence from the Seleucids, to A.D. 72, when it became part of the Roman province of Syria. The Commagene have been described as a semi-Iranian people that practiced the Zoroastrian faith and worshiped gods with combined Eastern and Western names like Zeus-Orimasdes and Apollo-Mithras. The site was rediscovered in 1881. The discovery that one statue was of King Antiochus was made a Dutch woman who claims she lived in Commagene in a different life.

Scientists have been searching inside the tumulus for the burial chamber of the king, which may hold incredible riches, for more than a century. A psychic, a German geophysicist and a Dutch archeologist think that they have located the chamber. They aren’t revealing their secrets and are waiting for permission form Turkish authorities to excavate.


Lycian tombs at Myra
The Lycians (don't confuse with the money-inventing Lydians) were yet another ancient culture that made its home in present-day Turkey. Little is known about them. Lycians were mentioned in the Iliad as a war-like people who made their living trading slaves for olive oil and raiding Mediterranean ships when piracy and slave trading were considered "honorable professions." The Egyptian recorded them as sea raiders who settled in the Xanthus valley along the Mediterranean coast of Asia Minor. Herodotus wrote they arrived in Anatolia from Crete.

The Lycians (pronounced Lishans) are believed to be an indigenous Anatolia people who spoke and Indo-European language. They appeared in the second millennium B.C. Hittite records date them to the 14th century B.C. They were later Hellenized but retained their independence. The Romans tried repeatedly to subdue them but ultimately gave up and declared Lycia an independent state in 167 B.C.

Lycian pirates plundered ships at will until they were subdued by Greek fighting ships, but still remained active until 67 B.C. when the Romans cornered them at Coracesium. The historian Pompey reported that 1,300 Lycian pirate boats were set on fire and all the pirates settlements were destroyed in the battle that took place there.

Herodotus wrote that the Lycians "have one singular custom in which they differ from every other nation in the world: naming themselves by their mothers, not their fathers." Today, the Lycians are best known for their impressive cliff-carved, temple-like tombs which are scattered between Kaş and Fethiye on the western Mediterranean coast.

Lycian Tombs

The Lycian Coast along southern Turkey features crystal clear blue water, limestone mountains that rise up straight from the shore, cliffs pockmarked with Lycian tombs and ancient cities with sarcophagus, classical temples and amphitheaters. The Lycian rock tombs are one of the region’s major draws. Found at several sites in the area, Located in the sides of limestone cliffs, they are carved to resemble building facades, with columns, pediments and friezes. Reminiscent of the tombs found at Petra in Jordan, they may be replicas of Lycian temples and dwellings.

Xanthus (45 miles southeast of Fethiye, near the town of Kinik) was the capital of Lycia and has the best preserved and largest collection of Lycian rock tombs. Selected as a UNESCO World Heritage site, it sits above a hill overlooking a river and embraces Lycian, Greek and Roman ruins. Although many of the best artifacts were taken to the British museum it contains ruins of basilicas, tombs and sarcophagi. The Tomb of Harpies a plaster copy of the original, which is now in London. Twice — in 546 B.C. against the Persians and in 42 B.C. against the Romans — the Xantians chose to fight to the death rather than surrender. Women, children and slaves were herded into the acropolis and then set on fire while the men fought until the last one was killed.

Demre is another place where you can see Lycian tombs. What makes these tombs unique is that there are a lot of them, they are all bunched together, and there are stairways and paths that allow you to explore them on foot. Below the tombs are the ruins of an old amphitheater and several temples.


According to UNESCO: Xanthos-Letoon was the capital of Lycia and illustrates the blending of Lycian traditions and Hellenic influence, especially in its funerary art. The epigraphic inscriptions are crucial for our understanding of the history of the Lycian people and their Indo-European language. [Source: UNESCO World Heritage Site website =]

sarcophagus at Xanthos

“Made up of two neighboring settlements located in the southwestern part of Anatolia, respectively within the boundaries of Antalya and Muğla Provinces, Xanthos-Letoon is a remarkable archaeological complex. It represents the most unique extant architectural example of the ancient Lycian Civilization, which was one of the most important cultures of the Iron Age in Anatolia. The two sites strikingly illustrate the continuity and unique combination of the Anatolian, Greek, Roman, and Byzantine civilizations. It is also in Xanthos-Letoon that the most important texts in Lycian language were found. The inscriptions engraved in rock or on huge stone pillars on the site are crucial for a better understanding of the history of the Lycian people and their Indo-European language. =

“Xanthos, which was the capital of ancient Lycia, illustrates the blending of Lycian traditions with the Hellenic influence, especially in its funerary art. The rock-cut tombs, pillar tombs and pillar-mounted sarcophagi in Xanthos are unique examples of ancient funerary architecture. Their value was already recognized in Antiquity and they influenced the art of neighboring provinces: the Mausoleum of Halicarnassus is for instance directly influenced by the Xanthos Nereid Monument. The fact that some architectural and sculptural pieces of the sites were taken to England in the 19th century, including the Monument of Harpy, the Tomb of Payava and the Nereid Monument, led to their word-wide recognition, and consequently the Xanthos marbles became an important part of the history of ancient art and architecture. =

“East of the Xanthos River (Eşen Çayı), the first monumental zone includes the old Lycian Acropolis, which was remodeled during the Hellenistic and Byzantine periods. At that time, a church was built at the northeast corner, while an advanced defensive structure fortified the western side of the citadel along the river. Directly north of the Acropolis stands a very beautiful theatre that dominates the Roman agora. This area also features great Lycian funerary monuments imitating woodwork, which are characteristic of the archaeological landscape of Xanthos and rise up spectacularly from the ruins. There is a second, more complex archaeological zone that extends between the Vespasian Arch to the south and the Hellenistic Acropolis to the north. The lower part of the town, which includes the Hellenistic Agora and Byzantine churches, was located in this part of the site. =

“Letoon, on the other hand, was the cult center of Xanthos, the ancient federal sanctuary of the Lycian province and Lycian League of Cities. As many inscriptions found at the site demonstrate, the federal sanctuary was the place where all religious and political decisions of the ruling powers were declared to the public. The famous trilingual inscription, dating back to 337 B.C., features a text inLycian and Greek as well as an Aramaic summary and was discovered near the temple of Apollo. In the sanctuary of Letoon, three temples are dedicated to Leto, Artemis and Apollo. In addition, the site includes the ruins of a nymphaeum dating back to Hadrian, built on a water source that was considered sacred. =

Xanthos-Letoon directly influenced the architecture of the principal ancient cities of Lycia such as Patara, Pınara, and Myra, as well as the neighboring provinces. The Halicarnassus Mausoleum, which was ranked as one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World, is directly influenced by Xanthos’ Nereid Monument. Xanthos-Letoon bears exceptional testimony to the Lycian civilization, both through the many inscriptions found at the two sites and through the remarkable funerary monuments preserved within the property. The longest and most important texts in the Lycian language were found in Xanthos-Letoon. The inscriptions, most of which were carved in rock or on huge monoliths, are considered exceptional evidence of this unique and long-forgotten Indo-European language. The rock art tombs, pillar tombs and pillar-mounted sarcophagi represent a novel type of funerary architecture. The rich series of Lycian tombs in Xanthos and Letoon enable us to fully understand the successive acculturation phenomena that took place in Lycia from the 6th century onwards.” =

Image Sources: Wikimedia Commons, The Louvre, The British Museum, Anatolian Civilizations Museum in Ankara

Text Sources: Internet Ancient History Sourcebook: Mesopotamia , National Geographic, Smithsonian magazine, especially Merle Severy, National Geographic, May 1991 and Marion Steinmann, Smithsonian, December 1988, New York Times, Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, Discover magazine, Times of London, Natural History magazine, Archaeology magazine, The New Yorker, BBC, Encyclopædia Britannica, Metropolitan Museum of Art, Time, Newsweek, Wikipedia, Reuters, Associated Press, The Guardian, AFP, Lonely Planet Guides, “World Religions” edited by Geoffrey Parrinder (Facts on File Publications, New York); “History of Warfare” by John Keegan (Vintage Books); “History of Art” by H.W. Janson Prentice Hall, Englewood Cliffs, N.J.), Compton’s Encyclopedia and various books and other publications. Last updated September 2018

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