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The Roman-Period Necropolis of Ariassos, Pisidia*

  • Sarah H. Cormack (a1)

New evidence of Roman tomb architecture from the necropolis at Ariassos in Pisidia demonstrates distinctive features of funerary architecture in the east. Over fifty built tombs are in different states of preservation, allowing identification of some features paralleled at other sites in Pisidia, while some features seem unique to Ariassos itself. The similarity of form of one elaborate tomb to the western podium temple reflects the influence of Roman religious architecture, while other tombs reflect features grown out of indigenous Anatolian traditions.

Ariassos was founded in the Hellenistic period, and is located c. 50 km. north of the modern city of Antalya. It minted coins in the late Hellenistic period and contains buildings of Hellenistic date, including a prytaneion, bouleuterion and small temple. The majority of the ruins at the site, however, date to the Imperial period, including an extensive nymphaeum and bath complex, a triple arched gateway dating to the third century A.D., and a substantial domestic area. The site was visited in the 1880s by the Austrian team headed by K. Lanckoronski, who thought that the ruins were those of the site of Cretopolis. A few years later the site was correctly identified by a French epigraphical expedition headed by V. Bérard. The Pisidian Survey project, under British directorship, completed a new city plan, focusing attention on Ariassos after years of neglect. [See Fig. 1.]

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1 Lanckoronski, K., Die Städte Pamphyliens und Pisidiens II (1892). The site of Cretopolis has now been identified on the basis of an inscription, c. 15 km. north-west of Ariassos: Mitchell, S., “Three Cities in Pisidia,” AnSt XLIV (1994) 129148, esp. 129–136, and map p. 131.

2 BCH 16 (1892) 426 ff.

3 Mitchell, S. in AnSt XXXIX (1989) 6367; idem., “Ariassos 1990,” AnSt XLI (1991) 159–172, and p. 170 on the tombs (S. Cormack).

4 Lanckoronski published a sketch of one of the intramural tombs (the so-called “heroon”): Lanckoronski, op.cit. (supra n. 1) 125 fig. 98, pl. XXII, C and D; and the two-storey mausoleum N8 has also been discussed by Cormack, S., “A Mausoleum at Ariassos, Pisidia,” AnSt XXXIX (1989) 3140.

5 As is often the case with Lycian and Pisidian cities during the Imperial period, there does not seem to be a clear distinction between burial area and inhabited area. This is in contrast to the situation which obtained at the city of Rome, where intramural burial was traditionally forbidden; cf. Cicero, , De Legibus II.58. For Greek burials inside cities, cf. Martin, R., “Recherches sur l'agora grecque,” BEFAR 174 (1951) 200 n.5; burials in the Athenian agora: Young, R. S., “Sepulturae intra urbem,” Hesperia 20 (1951) 110130. On monuments which “must have appeared to be adaptations to Roman taste of the Greek heroon,” see Frischer, B., “Monumenta et Arae Honoris Virtutisque Causa: Evidence of Memorials for Roman Civic Heroes,” BullCom 88 (19821983) 5186.

6 This sarcophagus type appears throughout Pisidia, at Selge for example: Machatschek, A. and Schwarz, M., Bauforschungen in Selge (DenkschrWien, Band 152, Wien 1981 = TAM Erg. Band 9) 101–3, fig. 5a–b, Abb. 74 and 77, for a variation of the type, with abstract garlands flanking a tabula ansata. The type also occurs in Rough Cilicia: Alföldi-Rosenbaum, E., The Necropolis of Adrassus (Balabolu) in Rough Cilicia (Isauria) (DenkschrWien, Band 146, Wien 1980 = TAM Erg. Band 10) 61, no. 19; pl. XXXII no. 3; these sarcophagi are also found at sites in Lycia: cf. Money, D. K., “Lions of the Mountains: The Sarcophagi of Balboura,” AnSt XL (1990) 29–54, esp. 4344. For the terminology, cf. Kubinska, J., Les Monuments Funéraires dans les Inscriptions Grècques de l'Asie Mineure (Warsaw 1968)s.v. σωματοθηκη.

7 The sarcophagus placed above lower chamber (hyposorion) represents a development of Lycian elevated sarcophagi with lower chamber, which first make their appearance in the fourth century B.C. It is an indigenous type, unrelated to developments in funerary architecture of the western empire. For examples, cf. Demargne, P., Tombes maisons, tombes rupestres et sarcophages. Fouilles de Xanthos V (Paris 1974) pls. 27–29; Zahle, J., Acta Arch. 46 (1975) 7794; Kjeldsen, K. and Zahle, J., AA (1975) 312350.

8 Vaulted tombs are also common at Termessos in Pisidia: see the tetrastyle prostyle vaulted temple-tomb illustrated in Lanckoronski, et al. , vol. II (supra n. 1) 118 figs. 88–89.

9 The arch is dated based on the statue bases in situ on the topmost surface of the attic zone: Mitchell, S., “Ariassos 1990AnSt XLI (1991) 162165, figs. 3–4. Since the architectural tradition at Ariassos is, however, essentially conservative, this similarity does not necessarily mean that tomb N3 should be dated precisely to the reign of Alexander Severus.

10 Tombs at Demircili/Döşene: Heberdey, R. and Wilhelm, A., “Reisen in Kilikien,” Denkschr Wien XLIV (1896) 8182 and passim; Keil, J. and Wilhelm, A., “Denkmäler aus dem Rauhen Kilikien,” MAMA III (Manchester 1931) 23ff.; Santangelo, M., AS Atene 3–5 (19411943) 235, fig. 59–61; Machatschek, A., “Die Grabtempel von Dösene im Rauhem Kilikien,” Mélanges Mansel (Ankara 1974) 251261; Wegner, M., “Kunstgeschichtliche Beurteilung der Grabtempel von Olba/Diokaisareia,” Mélanges Mansel (Ankara 1974) 575583; Koch, G. and Sichtermann, H., Römische Sarkophage (Munich 1982) 553, pl. 545; Wagner, J., Türkei: Die Südküste von Kaunos bis Issos (Munich 1986) 215216; von Hesberg, H., Römische Grabbauten (Darmstadt 1992) 187 fig. 118.

11 Shield motifs are common in Lycia and Pisidia, not only on funerary monuments but also as a decorative element on civic architecture, cf. the city gate at Selge, dated to c. 150 B.C., which is carved with shield reliefs: Machatschek and Schwarz, op.cit. (supra n. 6) 43 fig. 1b; abb. 12; abb. 30 (plinth from the colonnaded street of the Imperial period); façade of the scaenae frons of the theatre at Termessos, Pisidia: de Bernardi Ferrero, D., Teatri Classici in Asia Minore vol. II (Rome 1969) 23 fig. 23.

12 Tombs with mosaic floors are preserved in five of the tombs in the necropolis at Anemurium in Cilicia, while in many of the others loose tesserae attest to the original existence of mosaic floors: Alföldi-Rosenbaum, E., Anamur Nekropolu. The necropolis of Anemurium (T.T.K.Y. Seri VI, no. 12, Ankara 1971) 117121, pls. XXXVII–XLII. An analogy with the Anemurium mosaics suggests that the Ariassos mosaics also followed simple geometric designs.

13 Limestone benches with lion's foot mouldings from the interior of the East Tomb at Balboura supported sarcophagi; although it is conceivable that the benches of Tomb N4 played a similar rôle, their location in the pronaos and the absence of any sarcophagus fragments outside the tomb militate against this function; cf. C. H. Hallett and J. J. Coulton, op. cit. (supra n. 8) 51.

14 A parallel can be drawn between the tombs with benches at Ariassos, and bench tombs/exedra tombs outside city gates in the Roman west, in particular the street of tombs outside the Herculaneum Gate at Pompeii: see Kockel, V., Die Grabbauten vor dem Herkulaner Tor in Pompeji (Mainz am Rhein 1983), 5153 (schola Tomb of A. Veius M.f.); 57–59 (schola tomb of Mammia).

15 The motif of a sword crossed diagonally behind a round hoplon shield occurs on three sarcophagi at Balboura: D. K. Money, op. cit. (supra n. 6) 30 and pl. IIb.

16 The reverse situation, however, is attested in an inscription from Perge, which instructs that one Demarchos son of Trokondas and his wife be buried in a sarcophagus outside the heroon building, whereas the heroon should be reserved for his heirs. Ormerod, and Robinson, , “Notes and Inscriptions from Pamphylia,” BSA (19101911) p. 235–6, nos. 14 and 15. This is surely not an isolated incident, and the purpose of such inscriptions must have been to announce the fact that the patron had control over burial in both the “heroon” or tomb building and the sarcophagus.

17 For a similar construction technique of rough inner faces of cella wall blocks, cf. the Pediment Tomb at Balboura: C. H. Hallett and J. J. Coulton. op. cit. (supra n. 8) 65.

18 S. Cormack, op.cit. (supra n. 4).

19 The mausoleum N8 shares a number of similar features with the tombs at Balboura, for example the absence of a porch (paralleled in the East Tomb at Balboura), the rough treatment of the interior cella wall blocks (paralleled in the Pediment Tomb at Balboura), the existence of a vaulted hyposorion (tentatively suggested for the South Tomb at Balboura), and the absence of any means of access to the upper storey (paralleled in the Pediment Tomb at Balboura): C. H. Hallett and J. J. Coulton, op. cit. (supra n. 8).

20 See infra n. 22.

21 It is tempting to restore marble veneer (skoutlosis)—long since robbed out—as an interior finish for Tomb E7, but in the absence of fragments of marble panelling this suggestion must remain hypothetical. For the term, cf. Kubinska op. cit. (supra n. 6).

22 The gable of the tomb is illustrated in Şahin, Sencer, Die Inschriften von Arykanda. (Inschriften Griechischer Städte aus Kleinasien, Band 48, Bonn 1994) pl. 19, inscription no. 111. Excavations at Arycanda are reported by Bayburtluoğlu, C., VI KST (1985) 289300; VII KST (1986) 357–71; VII KST 2, 93–9; IX KST 2, 127–46; X KST 2, 187–95.

23 At Demircili/Döşene north of Silifke (in Cilicia) shields with weathered portraits appear in the gables of at least two of the tombs. In Cilicia, however, shields are not a common feature of sarcophagus decoration, and the presence of weathered busts in the Cilician tomb gables probably connects them more to clipeatus portraits than to Pisidian military shields. R. Heberdey and A. Wilhelm, op.cit. (supra n. 10); J. Keil and A. Wilhelm, op. cit. (supra n. 10); A. Machatschek, op. cit. (supra n. 10); M. Wegner, op. cit. (supra n. 10). For clipeatus portraits on funerary stelai from the Roman west, see Pflug, H., Römische Porträtstelen in Oberitalien (Mainz am Rhein 1989) 59, pls. 14, 15; on funerary altars: Kleiner, D. E. E., Roman Imperial Funerary Altars with Portraits (Rome 1987) 76, 229; cat. no. 11, Altar of Gaius Julius Philetus (c. A.C. 45–55) carved with a projecting shield motif, probably alluding to the virtus of Philetus' patron, Gaius Postumus.

24 K. Lanckoronski (supra n. 1). The tomb is also referred to in Crema, L., “I monumenti funerari,” in L'architettura romana (1959) 501; Crema refers to the site as “Kretopolis,” and states that the arcuated façade of the tomb reproduces the form of arcosolia carved in the rock face. This idea reappears in Machatschek, op. cit. (1981) 99, where Ariassos is still erroneously referred to as “Kretopolis.” For the correct identification of Cretopolis, see Mitchell (supra n. 1).

25 The East Tomb, the South Tomb (?), and the Kadra Dere Tomb at Balboura contained hyposoria with flat ceilings: C. H. Hallett and J. J. Coulton, op. cit. (supra n. 8).

26 Tomb at Myra: Texier, Ch., Description de l'Asie Mineure III (1849) pl. 213, 214; Petersen, E. and von Luschan, F., Reisen im südwestlichen Kleinasien Bd.II: Reisen in Lykien, Milyas und Kibyratis (Vienna 1889) 43, abb. 32, pl. XI; Borchhardt, J. et al. , Myra. Eine lykische Metropole in antiker und byzantinischer Zeit (Ist. Forsch. 30, Berlin 1975) 6163, pl. 30. Tomb at Saracık: Petersen and von Luschan, 151 ff., abb. 67, 69–72; Kovacsovics, W., Römische Grabdenkmäler (Waldsassen-Bayern 1983) 107108, abb. 22 (reprinting Petersen and von Luschan's illustration).

27 The source of this stone is located at a rock outcrop approximately 2 km. west of the modern village of Bademağaçı.

28 For a small distyle in antis temple with frontal steps, of uncertain date, constructed on the terrace at the Hellenistic civic centre, see Mitchell, S., AS XLI (1991) 161 fig. 2.

29 Tombs at Termessos: Lanckoronski et al., supra n. 1, 107–120; Heberdey, R. and Wilberg, H., “Die Grabbauten von Termessos in Pisidien,” JOAI 3 (1900). Tombs at Arykanda: supra n. 22.

30 Tombs at Termessos: supra n. 29.

31 Lion's foot mouldings in theatres and stadia in Asia Minor: Mansel, A. M., Die Ruinen von Side (Berlin 1963) 125 fig. 102 (theatre at Side); de Bernardi Ferrero, D., Teatri Classici in Asia Minore vol. I (Rome 1966) 58 fig. 95 (benches for dignitaries, theatre at Hierapolis); vol. II (Rome 1969) 65 fig. 106 (stadium at Cibyra), 149 fig. 212 (theatre, Kyanae); vol. III (Rome 1970) 11 fig. 3, 13 fig. 8 (seats of honour, theatre, Priene).

32 See supra n. 13.

33 Tombs in Lycia, Pamphylia and Pisidia with a crypt below the cella are listed by C. H. Hallett, in C. H. Hallett and J. J. Coulton, op. cit. (supra n. 8) n. 39, to which add: Arycanda, “multi-storeyed” tombs in east necropolis: Cormack, S., “Non inter nota sepulcra”: Roman Temple Tombs of South West Asia Minor (Yale Univ. PhD. diss., 1992) 106107 and pl. 65; Patara, tombs no. 1 and 2: Texier, C., Asie Mineure: Description Géographique, Historique et Archéologique (Paris 1862) 680; TAM II.2 143144, and no 438; J. Wagner op. cit. (supra n. 10) 76–80; Phaselis, tomb at north harbour: Cormack (1992) 128–129 and pls. 81–82; Rhodiapolis, tomb of Aristokila: Cormack (1992) 114 and pl. 78; the inscription referring to Aristokila, mother of wealthy benefactor Opramoas, is published in TAM II.3, 916; numerous tombs at Sidyma: Dardaine, S. and Longepierre, D., “Essai de typologie des monuments funéraires de Sidyma (époques lycienne et romaine),” Ktema 10 (1985) [1988] 219232; and possibly Xanthos, temple-tomb east of Xanthos: Coupel, P. and Demargne, P., “Un héroon romain à Xanthos de Lycie,” Mélanges d'Histoire Ancienne et d'Archéologie Offerts à Paul Collart (Lausanne 1976) 103115.

34 Even Lycian tombs, which give the initial impression of a type created without external influence, in fact may reveal the impact of ideas from further east; on this, see Shahbazi, A. S., The Irano-Lycian Monuments. The Principal Antiquities of Xanthos and its Region as Evidence for Iranian Aspects of Achaemenid Lycia (Tehran 1975).

* The work presented here was carried out at Ariassos, Pisidia, from 24 August to 24 September 1990, under the auspices of the Pisidian Survey Project, directed by Stephen Mitchell and funded by the British Academy, the British Institute of Archaeology at Ankara, the Roman Society, and the Craven Committee. The author would also like to acknowledge the support of Yale University for a travel grant to further research. Thanks are due to Danny Gysen (Leuven) and Claudia Rutherford (Oxford) for help in measuring the tombs, to Stephen Mitchell for his good advice, and to Sabri Aydal, Antalya Museum, Turkey, for production of the city plan and for his unflagging energy in the field. The criticisms and comments of David Milson (Oxford) have aided immeasurably. All photographs were taken by the author. All drawings were measured and drawn by the author, with the exception of the city plan (Figure 1) which was surveyed and drawn by Sabri Aydal, and emended by Stephen Mitchell.

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