Arycanda (Antiquity)

1. General information

The location of ancient Arycanda is identified today within a 15-minute-walk from the village Arif, on the road that connects Elmali with Finike and on the river Arycandus (today’s Aykir Çay), an affluent of Limyrus. Arycanda bordered to the north with Choma (today's Hamımusalar) and to the south with the region of Limyra. The town’s source of prosperity, at least in Roman times, was its key position on a road with a North-South direction, a privileged position that today’s Aykirca has maintained.

Stephanus Byzantius refers to Arycanda as a town, invoking the Lycian geographer Capiton.1 A more ancient testimony is that by Athenaeus,2 who uses Agatharchides of Cnidus as his source and sketches out with dark colours the character and lifestyle of the Arycandeans. Athenaeus describes them as self-indulgent and avaricious, having no interest in work, which often got them into debt that they never succeeded in discharging.

2. History

Arycanda are considered to have been situated within the Lycian territory. This is strengthened by the presence of Lycian tombs which were found in Aykirca, on an idyllic spot next to a small waterfall, and the discovery of coins of the type issued by the Lycian dynasts Kurprlli and Aquwami.3 Yet, no inscriptions in the Lycian dialect have been found. Historical linguistics have shown that the ending ‘-anda’ of the location is dated to the 3rd millennium BC and indicates the ‘place on high rocks’.4 This linguistic allegation on the town’s antiquity is consistent with finds from the Chalcolithic period in the area, which place Arycanda in a wider district that includes Choma and Limyra.

In the Classical period the town must have been the seat of a smaller-scale ruler, but the absence of a heroon, or any other monumental building, leads to the conclusion that the town’s power was restricted and that, in reality, it was under the power of the monarch of neighbouring Limyra.

During the greatest part of the Hellenistic period, Lycia remained to a great extent under the control of the Ptolemies. Yet, while on the coastal towns the Ptolemaic presence was evident, towns of the inner land like Arycanda did not show any Ptolemaic traces. On the contrary, the short-lived presence of the Seleucids (197-190 BC) is mentioned by Athenaeus,5 who states that in the summer of 197 BC the town was conquered by a general of Antiochus III. After the Seleucids, the region fell under Rhodian control (188-167 BC). The construction of a temple on a hillock called Embolos,6 which was dedicated to Helios – who was traditionally worshiped in Rhodes – is ascribed to the Rhodian influence. After its liberation from the Rhodians, Arycanda became one of the 23 town-members of the Lycian League, with full rights. Its participation in the League is also confirmed by the coinage of that period.7 The information provided by material remains and written sources in the end of the Hellenistic period and the beginning of the Roman period are trivial.

Epigraphic evidence has increased greatly during the Roman period and it provides information on the town’s institutions and cults, which will be examined below. We also learn from inscriptions that the great earthquakes of 141/142 AD affected Arycanda, and that Opramoas donated 10,000 dinars for the restoration of the city. Jason of Cyaneae, the second great benefactor of the time, not only contributed financially, but was also acclaimed an accountant of the town.8 During the period of joint reign of Marcus Aurelius and Lucius Verus there was an effort of redefinition of the town’s boundaries.9 The revival operation of the towns’ coinage in Gordian’s III days (238-244 BC) had an effect on Arycanda. One of the most significant testimonies on the town’s history in the 3rd century AD is the fragmentary inscription, which is the reply of the Emperors Gallienus and Valerian to one of the citizens’ demands.

The notion which supports that the inhabitants of Arycanda were divided in tribes according to their area of residence has been based on epigraphic evidence. Some of these tribes were the "Πεδιείς", the "Δαφνιείς" and the "Αστικοί".10 Without being able to rule out such a scenario, it is perhaps too risky for one to talk about the introduction of a system of tribes. Perhaps these names were simple definitions of places of residence.

3. Religion

Just like in other towns of the Lycian League, Apollo had a prominent place here too. He was depicted on coins of the period of the League.11 The worship of Artemis is better documented, since an altar has been found with her name inscribed on it.12 It seems that the typical type of Artemis that was worshipped in Arycanda was Artemis Tharsenike, with the peculiar two-headed form, as two small altars dedicated to her13 have been found on the road that leads from Finike to Arycanda. Additionally, a small altar of Artemis Kombike is chronologically attributed to the period of the Roman Empire.14 Under the Rhodians’ influence, Helios was worshipped in Arycanda, to whom a temple and an altar were dedicated.15 A small altar was also dedicated to Nemesis.16 Finally, a generally unknown local god was worshipped in Arycanda, the so-called ‘Somendeus’, in honour of whom an altar was built.17

Even though the surviving evidence is not absolutely clear, one might assume that Hera was also worshipped in Arycanda. Hermes and Heracles were, as in most towns, the protector-gods of the gymnasium and of athletic contests. Ares Saviour, the ‘equestrian gods’ and Tyche (Fortuna) were also depicted on coins of the Roman period. Finally, excavations have revealed statues of Asclepius, Hygeia (Health) and Aphrodite.18

Apart from the typical Greek-Roman and Lycian deities, Arycanda had also adopted the imperial cult. An inscription with a dedication of a renovated temple to Trajan has been found, and also an altar dedicated to the same Emperor. Additionally, a building of unknown usage was dedicated to Septimius Severus and his family.19

4. Archaeology

Despite the fact that the town’s topography is placed in the Late Classical period, the visible ruins in today are dated in the Roman period and reveal a town which, even though it was the second or third one out of all the towns of Lycia in terms of size and importance, it possessed some of the most significant public buildings.

The Roman town was built on a steep hillside. No traces of walls have been found. Nevertheless, there are two towers, one of them situated in the north-west and in quite a distance from the town, on the mountain Toçak Dağ, and another one on a lower part, next to the old necropolis and next to the river, with the purpose to control the passage. It seems that these towers were part of a defense network of the Early Hellenistic period, as similar ones have been found on the road that links Arycanda and Limyra, as well as Arycanda and Choma.

The main town is divided into two parts by a torrent that flows following a North-South direction. In its western coast there is a complex of public buildings which includes a theatre, a gymnasium and a stadium. The relatively small theatre survives in a relatively good condition and was built in Greek style, without any traces of Romanization, a fact that led researches to date it before the 1st century BC. The theatre suffered a great destruction from an earthquake that took place around 141/142 AD. The stadium is built exactly above the theatre, on an artificial terrace. Only about 60 m. of its external wall are visible today. A little further below the theatre is the agora. In its northern part, precisely above the retaining wall of the theatre, an odeion was built. On the western side of this large complex of buildings, which could be considered as the centre of the town, lies the Council House (bouleuterion), paradoxically not in a central spot. This is probably due to the fact that this northwest area of the town formed the initial residential centre, a fact that was confirmed by the discovery of another, even smaller, agora and a portico as well as that of a group of typically Lycian rock-cut houses. The last building on this side of the torrent is a Palaiochristian basilica, which is dated to the end of the 4th century and which was built on the damaged sanctuary of Helios in Embolos, according to one theory. The sanctuary, perhaps the town’s most significant, had been built in Trajan’s and Hadrian’s years, but it was ravaged by an earthquake in 240 AD and it appears not to have been repaired since then.

Across the way from the basilica, on the other side of the torrent, the large complex of the bath - gymnasium is located, perhaps the biggest complex of buildings in town. Its style is typically Lycian, with rooms built parallel to each other and a central area that ends in an arch. The baths were damaged from an earthquake but there are signs of repair. Arycanda had another two public baths, the so called ‘hanging baths’, built next to the stadium-theatre-agora complex, and the small baths, next to the complex of the bath- gymnasium. The small baths were until some decades ago known to us as the "house of inscriptions", because a large number of inscriptions were enwalled on their sides, which reinforce the suggestion on the building’s dating to the 4th century AD. Both baths are built following the type of the large ones, in a way that the former seem like a micrography of the latter.

In the southern-most edge of the town, in a location nowadays called Nal Tepesi, the sanctuary of Hermaios was found, which was turned into a basilica and into another baths complex in Late Antiquity. It was, however, destroyed by fire in the 6th century. Trajan had also built a bath building, as it appears on an inscription.20

The town had four necropoleis. The oldest one was situated in quite a distance from the residential centre, towards the northwest. It included large Lycian rock-cut tombs which date around the 4th century BC. Another Lycian necropolis, with graves of smaller size, was situated in the south of the town. The other two smaller necropoleis are very close to the bath-gymnasium complex and belong to the Roman period, with sarcophagi. Some of them are decorated in relief.21

1. St.Byz.  129.9-10. On Capiton see Jacoby, F., FgrHist III B.

2. Ath. 12.527 F.

3. Von Aulock, H., SNG Deutschland IX-X, n. 4130-4156.

4. Zgusta, L., Kleinasiatische Ortsnamen, Beiträge zur Namensforschung, Beiheft 21 (Heidelberg 1984), p. 37∙ Neumann, G., “Der lykishce Ortsname Arykanda′′ , Historische Sprachforschung 104.2 (1991), p. 165-9.

5. Ath. 12.527f-528a.

6. Knoblauch, P. – Witschel, C., “Arykanda in Lykien, eine topographische Aufnahme”, AA (1993), p. 235∙ Fraser, P.M. – Bean, G.E., The Rhodian peraea and islands (Oxford – London 1954), p. 130. It is considered that the temple was found on a spot where today’s great old Christian basilica is located, but the philological sources illustrate a space somewhat away from town.

7. Troxell, H.A., The coinage of the Lycian League (New York 1982), p. 104 ff.

8. On the institution of the town’s accountant see IGR III, 704 IA Z. 13.

9. Şahin, S., Die Inschriften von Arykanda (Inschriften griechischer Städte aus Kleinasien 48, Bonn 1994), n. 25 a-b, c-d.

10. Şahin, S., Die Inschriften von Arykanda (Inschriften griechischer Städte aus Kleinasien 48, Bonn 1994), n. 43.

11. Frei, P., “Die Götterkulte Lykiens in der Kaizerzeit”, ANRW II, 18.3, p. 1764∙ Troxell, H.A., The coinage of the Lycian League (New York 1982), table 14, n. 80.

12. TAM II.806, dated in the 2nd or 3rd c. AD.

13. Şahin, S., Die Inschriften von Arykanda (Inschriften griechischer Städte aus Kleinasien 48, Bonn 1994), n. 86 a, b and table 15.

14. Şahin, S., Die Inschriften von Arykanda (Inschriften griechischer Städte aus Kleinasien 48, Bonn 1994), n. 85 and table 15.

15. Şahin, S., Die Inschriften von Arykanda (Inschriften griechischer Städte aus Kleinasien 48, Bonn 1994), n. 88, 89 and table 15.

16. Şahin, S., Die Inschriften von Arykanda (Inschriften griechischer Städte aus Kleinasien 48, Bonn 1994), n. 84 and table 15.

17. Şahin, S., Die Inschriften von Arykanda (Inschriften griechischer Städte aus Kleinasien 48, Bonn 1994), n. 82 and table 14.

18. Hera: Şahin, S., Die Inschriften von Arykanda (Inschriften griechischer Städte aus Kleinasien 48, Bonn 1994), n. 50, 51. Hermes and Heracles: Şahin, S., a.a.., n. 162∙ Frei, P., “Die Götterkulte Lykiens in der Kaizerzeit”, ANRW II, 18.3, p. 1801. Ares: Frei, P., a.a., p. 1766. “Equestrian gods”: Frei, P., a.a., p. 1793. Sozon: Frei, P., a.a., p. 1800. Luck: Frei, P., ό.π., p. 1838. Asclepius, Health, Aphrodite: Bayburtuoğlu, C., XIII, KSTop 1991 (Ankara 1992), p. 203 ff.

19. On Trajan: Şahin, S., Die Inschriften von Arykanda (Inschriften griechischer Städte aus Kleinasien 48, Bonn 1994), n. 16, 17. On Septimius Severus: Şahin, S., a.a., n. 18.

20. Şahin, S., Die Inschriften von Arykanda (Inschriften griechischer Städte aus Kleinasien 48, Bonn 1994), n. 24.

21. For the town’s archaeological data, see Bayburtuoğlu, C., “Arykanda” (p. 119-124), Knoblauch, P., “Eine topographische Aufnahme des Stadtgebietes von Arykanda in Lykien” (p.125-130), Knoblauch, P., „Betrachtungen zu den theatern von Lmyra und Arykanda“ (p. 137-148), in Borchlardt, J. – Dobesch, G. (ed.), Akten des II internationalen Lykien-Symposions, Wien, 6-12 Mai 1990 (Ergänzungsbände zu den Tituli Asiae Minoris 17, 1993), II. See also Bean, G., Lycian turkey (London – New York 1978), p. 135-141∙ Knoblauch, P., - Witschel, C., “Arykanda in Lykien, eine topographische Aufnahme”, AA (1993), p. 229-262.