The Lycian city of Idebessos was built at an altitude of 1,000 meters on Bey Dağ, close to modern Kozağaci, a suburb of Karacaören. In antiquity the closest large city was Arycanda, at a distance of 18 kms to the west. Together with its two neighbouring cities Akalissos and Korme they formed a confederation, headed by Akalissos.1 According to Bean, the ending –ssos indicated a pre-hellenic place name, but his view on the antiquity of the site is not confirmed by the presence of numerous Lycian tombs as is the case with other cities with a purely Lycian past.
The city was built close to a gorge, along which a fortification wall is still extant, although badly damaged. From the city’s monuments a small theatre is also preserved, oriented towards the mountain, which must have had a capacity of about 700 spectators. At the site a significant number of tombs of a later period was found of the sarcophagus type with a domed cover. Those sarcophagi are not concentrated in a necropolis, but rather scattered among the remains of houses. Many of the covers are missing or broken. The majority of the sarcophagi are decorated with plain round shields, but there are also some with relief decorations of cupids, wild animals etc. In some cases the sarcophagi are based on podiums with an exedra (platform) in front.
Intramural burials are rare in Asia Minor, at least in the Early Hellenistic period.2 The funerary inscriptions of Idebessos constitute a good testimony of a common phenomenon in Hellenistic Lycia, namely the formation of a local aristocracy based rather on wealth than origin.3
The aforementioned inscriptions as well as some dedicatory ones constitute a source of information on the civic institutions of Idebessos. One learns of the existence of agoranomoi,4prytaneis,5 superintendents of public works,6gymnasiarchs,7dekaprotoi (decemprimi) and eikosaprotoi (both of the city and of the confederation),8 as well as of the existence of an institution which referred to the whole of Lycia, that of the hypophylax of the Lycians.9
4. ReligionThe most frequent mention of deities on funerary inscriptions is that of the Dioscuri.10 One could assume, then, that they constituted the city’s patron gods. There are also frequent appeals to the nymphs.11 It is possible that the two cults were related to that of Apollo, patron god of Akalissos and possible of the entire confederation.12 Finally, on a relief there is depicted a triad of gods, unfortunately without an inscription.13 It has been suggested that the triad corresponds to the “Theoi Agrioi”, the cult of which is attested elsewhere in Lycia as well.
1. Bean, G.E., Lycian Turkey: an archaeological guide (London 1978), pp.139-140 and TAM II, nos. 830, 833, 836, 837, 844, 849 etc.
2. Zimmermann, M., Untersuchungen zu historischen Landeskunde Zentrallykiens (Bonn 1992), p. 70.
3. Zimmermann, M., Untersuchungen zu historischen Landeskunde Zentrallykiens (Bonn 1992), p. 74 and TAM II p. 302.
5. TAM II, nos. 831, 832, 834, 837.
6. TAM II, nos. 831, 835.
7. TAM II, nos. 835, 838.
8. TAM II, nos. 838, 847.
9. TAM II, nos. 831, 834.
10. TAM II, nos. 845, 847, 855, 857.
11. TAM II, nos. 824-827.
13. Frei, P., “Die Götterkülte Lykiens in der Kaizerzeit”, in ANRW II, 18.3 (Berlin 1990), p. 1829, with reference to the initial publication by Pace, B., “Ricerche sulla Regione di Conia, Adalia e Scalanova”, ASAtene 7 (1924), p. 71, no. 79.