Sunday, March 13, 2016

Fragments 5 & 6

These two pieces constitute related parts of the texts and the stones were in excellent condition (except for some obscuring of the text) when Kalinka wrote them up. Unlike fragments 7 & 8 these two do not overlap in their placement. 





The source here is Ernst Kalinka and Rudolf Heberdey, L'inscription philosophique d'Oenoanda in the Bulletin de correspondance hellénique. Volume 21, 1897. pp. 359.

Saturday, March 12, 2016

The Economy of Oenoanda

It is probably useful to put Oenoanda in context first. It was a hilltop city that was very outside the Roman model, moreover it also was not on any major routes so thus "not on the way to anywhere else". Therefore the city had to rely on its own very small hinterland for its economic prosperity. In this respect its closest parallel in modern times is the Italian hill towns of Tuscany.

Some versions have it that the town takes it name form the Greek word for wine. Certainly the area has not been known for its wine or grape growing for a very long time. However, in a recent report the Hurriyet newspaper reported a reactivation of wine growing at Arycanda, citing evidence of "wine houses" in the region of Oenoanda and claiming that wine in the world had been first grown in the region 4,000 years ago. 

Just east of the Esplanade in the upper part of the city, archaeologists have identified what they have termed a screw-press (constructed from spolia) for wine production that dates from a late stage of the city's history, the size of which has been deemed worthy of being shown on maps of the area. 

We can therefore presume that wine and probably olive growing were also profitable economic activities in the area. Though what the surplus for export might have been is unfathomable.  

We might regard the city's "territory" as being the valleys on either side of its mountain eyrie. An inscription relating to the establishment of the Demosthenaia festival notes that there were 35 villages within the territory of Oenoanda. The evidence also suggests that there was summer pasture under the city's control that was a source for sacrificial animals and presumably herds as a food source. 

The map below shows the town and the valleys around. Kemerarasi was known as Termessos Minor in ancient times.  

What was grown in these valleys in ancient times remains a mystery but a clue may be the ransom that the Romans demanded of the Cabalian League which consisted of 10,000 medimni of wheat. According to A Dictionary of Greek and Roman Antiquities. William Smith, LLD. William Wayte. G. E. Marindin. Albemarle Street, London. John Murray. 1890. an Attic medimnus consisted of 12 imperial gallons (11.556 gallons) or 1 1/2 bushel, though there were different versions that were less. However, for the region to have such a large surplus (hopefully) of wheat to make the payment, this must have been a crop of importance in the valleys of the region. 

Pliny commented upon the cedars of the region, but did not comment as to whether they were cut and traded or not. 

The nature of industries in the city is also unknown at this stage as little effort has gone into exploring the "suburban" parts of the ruined city.  

In the book The Politics of Munificence in the Roman Empire: Citizens, Elites and and Benefactors in Asia Minor by Arjan Zuiderhoek, Cambridge University Press, 2009, it is mentioned that the Demosthenaia festival involved a suspension of tolls and levies with the goal being that during the duration of the festival traders from other areas would come and negotiate their business in the city. A sort of temporary "free-trade zone" to boost the local economy and ensure that the festival goers had a sufficient supply of foods and consumer goods. The author speculates that this might imply that tariffs on trading were high enough or trading good enough in normal times that the city could offer this dispensation at special times.  

Another interesting document is a treaty agreed between the citizens of the nearby city of Tlos and the Termessians. As has been mentioned elsewhere the Termessians may actually be the citizenry of Oenoanda with the city and territory having a different name to the inhabitants. In any case, in the article Une convention entre cités en Lycie du Nord, In: Comptes-rendus des séances de l'Académie des Inscriptions et Belles-Lettres, 140e année, N. 3, 1996. pp. 961-980 bu Christian Le Roy the author discusses the rights the Tlosians allowed to the Termessians. Amongst these was the cutting of wood from their territory (though whether this was firewood or wood for construction/furniture etc has not been established) and rights of pasturage, which is seemingly summer grazing. 

The author also makes reference to the floating of logs down the Xanthos river from the region of Tlos and Oenoanda to the sea. 

For the forestry resources of the zone he cites Revue de Géographie alpine 47, 1959, p. 373-385: "les oliviers ne dépassent pas les 900 m ; Puis, on a les pins rouges, jusque vers 1000 m ; les pins noirs et les chênes vers 1 300 m ; les cèdres et genévriers jusque vers 1800 m au sud et 2100 m au nord. Pour le pourtour du massif étudié (audessus de la baie de Fethiye et de la plaine de Nif), l'auteur emploie l'expression de « grande sylve lycienne » (p. 378). Encore fait-il à bon droit observer que * ces hauteurs sont et ont été occupées aux limites de leurs possibilités » et que cette « surcharge pastorale » explique « la dévastation absolue de la forêt au-dessus de 1800 m et sa réduction à quelques taches au-dessus de 1550 m ». La couverture sylvestre devait être beaucoup plus dense dans l'Antiquité".

Thus we might be so daring as to suggest that the known economic activities of Oenoanda might have been trading in general, wood, wheat, wine, olives, animal husbandry. From this might also come woodworking, wool processing and some other as yet unknown manufacturing and value added activities linked to the raw materials it had at its disposal in the zone. 


Pliny, HN 12.61.132, 13.11.52, 16.59.137· Theophrastus, Historia plantarum, 3.12.3.

ANADOLU AKDENİZİ, Arkeoloji Haberleri, 2013-11, News of Archaeology from ANATOLIA’S MEDITERRANEAN AREAS: Oinoanda 2012, Report on the 2012 Campaign at Oinoanda, Martin BACHMANN

Une convention entre cités en Lycie du Nord In: Comptes-rendus des séances de l'Académie des Inscriptions et Belles-Lettres, 140e année, N. 3, 1996. pp. 961-


Friday, March 11, 2016

Donors to the Storehouse Project

In the Spring of 2010, when the Turkish authorities finally gave permission for the erection of a storehouse had been granted, the archaeologists launched an international appeal for funds. The appeal quickly received an extremely generous response. 

By far the largest contribution was made by The Gilbert de Botton Memorial Foundation, a cultural fund established under the will of Gilbert de Botton (1935–2000). One of those who administer the fund is his son, the writer and philosopher Alain de Botton. Immense gratitude is owed to him for making possible an extraordinary gift. 

Other principal donors were: 

  • MFS 
  • Gustav Kranck 
  • Steelteam 
  • Kulturerhaltprogramm des Auswärtigen Amtes der Bundesrepublik Deutschland 
  • Klaus Fischer/ Fischer Befestigungssysteme 
  • John Fraser (Versoix) 
  • Il Centro Internazionale per lo Studio dei Papiri Ercolanesi
  • Deutsches Archäologisches Institut, Abteilung İstanbul 
  • The Seven Pillars of Wisdom Trust 
  • Societat Catalana d’Estudis Clàssics

Gratitude is due to all these institutions and individuals, as well as to numerous friends of Jurgen Hammerstaedt, academic and non-academic, who made gifts to the Oinoanda project on the occasion of his fiftieth birthday.

Oenoanda's Political Context

It might be useful to put the "city" of Oenoanda is some sort of political context. Essentially it was a large town, though I am sure it regarded itself as a small city and it did have many of the trappings of a major population centre despite its limited population.

What was its political status though?

The Tetrapolis

The political arrangement of Oenoanda prior to 81 BC was that it, and the cities of Balbura, Bubon and Cibyra, belonged to a political alliance known variably as the Tetrapolis, the Cibyratis, or Cabalian League. It was dominated by the city of Cibyra (Kibyra), which formed a league approximately contemporaneously with the Lycian League, to the south. 

The main ancient sources on the subject are Polybius and Strabo. 

Cibyra ruled the Turkish Lakes Region. It was called Cibyra Megale, "Greater Cibyra," to distinguish it from Cibyra Mikra or "Little Cibyra" (today near Okurcalar) near Side. The lakes region is a string of alpine valleys in the folds of the Taurus Mountains, which have no natural exits. Instead they have collected lakes. Cibyra was on a low hill to the west of Gölhisar Valley and Gölhisar Lake, just north of Gölhisar.

Cibyra dominated an ancient region, Cabalis, which was divided between the later states of Lycia, Pisidia and Lydia, subsequently incorporated in Phrygia. According to Strabo, it spoke four languages, Lydian, even though Lydian had disappeared elsewhere, Greek, Pisidian and "that of the Solymi." Cabalis, which was later divided into Lycian and Asian Cabalis, was the putative home of the Solymi. It included the Milyas District of Lycia, putatively the home of the first Lycians. It is possible that they spoke a form of Anatolian earlier than the attested Lycian, which some have dubbed "Milyan." 

Also according to Strabo the Cabalian grouping operated on the basis of each of the cities having one vote with the exception of Cibyra that had two votes. 

The Cibyratis was ruled by a succession of deliberately ostentatious and high-handed tyrants. Having become a thorn in the side of Rome, they attracted the attention of Gnaeus Manlius Vulso, commander of the Roman armies successfully fighting the Galatian War of 189 BC. Manlius turned toward Cibyratis with the intent of removing the thorn. The tyrant, Moa'getes, barely escaped with his life and his position by entering the Roman camp dressed in humble clothing, with a handful of similarly dressed assistants, claiming destitution and begging for mercy. He offered a payment of 15 talents. Manlius set the payment at 500 talents, a huge sum, impossible of payment. Finally moved to mercy, he allowed Moa'getes to bargain him down to 100 and 10,000 medimni of wheat, necessary to the Roman commissary.

When the Romans had departed Moa'getes dropped the pretense, and Cibyratis resumed its arrogance. Consequently, when Lucius Licinius Murena (elder) did finally deal with Cibyratis, he had no political mercy.

Strabo says that Bubon and Balbura were transferred to the Lycian League forthwith. He does not mention Oenoanda, but it had been a city of the Lycians anyway. It minted coinage of the League subsequently. There is no evidence that Cibyra was ever admitted to the League, although that assumption sometimes is made. It was in Asian Cabalia and as such was joined to Phrygia later, an event supported by their coin issues. The last tyrant of the Tetrapolis was also named Moa'getes, a different one, unless the term was a title, or Strabo made a mistake.

After the dismemberment of the Cibryatis alliance, Oenoanda was grafted onto the Lycian League. Whethre this involved a loss of relative status was unclear, as it went from being a large city in a small grouping to being yet another city in a much more substantial grouping where it was "outvoted" by cities such as Xanthos. 

The Lycian League

The Lycian League (Lukiakou systema in Strabo's Greek transliterated, a "standing together") is first known from two inscriptions of the early 2nd century BC in which it honors two citizens. Bryce hypothesizes that it was formed as an agent to convince Rome to rescind the annexation of Lycia to Rhodes. Lycia had been under Rhodian control since the Peace of Apamea in 188 BC. 

In 168 BC, Rome took Lycia away from Rhodes and turned over home rule to the League. There was no question of independence. Lycia was not to be sovereign, only self-governing under republican principles. It could neither negotiate with foreign powers nor disobey the Roman Senate. It was not independent. It could govern its own people and for a time mint its own coins as a right granted by Rome. It did not determine its own borders. Land and people could be assigned or taken away by the Senate. Remarking on this protectorate Strabo says of the government:

"Formerly they deliberated about war and peace, and alliances, but this is not now permitted, as these things are under the control of the Romans. It is only done by their consent, or when it may be for their own advantage."

Exactly what such a statement might imply is uncertain. Lycia had not been a sovereign state for some time. Whether the Lycian League as such is meant, implying that it existed anciently, or some other similar government is meant, is not clear. The statement does not say also whether there was a gap between the former sovereign state and the new Lycian League, or whether they are to be conceived as chronologically continuous.

According to Strabo, the league (prior to 81 BC) was comprised of some 23 known city-states as members. It was a federal-style government that shared political and economic resources. A “Lyciarch” was elected by a senate (συνέδριον, synedrion, "sitting together") that convened by agreement beforehand at "what city they please." Each member had one, two or three votes (presumably by different representatives), depending on the city's size. The decline of some cities over time caused them to join with the major state in their vicinity to form a sympolity. In that case they lost their vote (if they had one) assuming an influence in the vote of the major city. After election of the Lyciarch the Senate voted for the other public officials and the magistrates. The League's government took precedence, but, as in many federal systems, the issue was not entirely settled, and the resulting civil conflict led to the dissolution of the union.

Strabo identified the major cities of the League; that is, the three-vote cities, as Xanthos, Patara, Pinara, Olympos, Myra, and Tlos, with Patara as the capital. The full complement has been identified by a study of the coins and mention in other texts.

As mentioned earlier the Roman consul, Lucius Licinius Murena (elder) in 81 BC grafted the cities of Balbura, Bubon and Oenoanda onto the league, having stripped from the Cabalian systema to the north. 

Monday, March 7, 2016

The Inscription's Debris Field

The term "debris field" is most associated today with crashed airliners, rather than archaeological sites. But it is particularly apt in the case of the Great Epicurean Inscription of Oenoanda where a disaster left the once epic construction shattered into a myriad of pieces scattered across a wide area as if it had been smashed by some divine mallet.

I came across this interesting representation of the intensity of the finds from the destroyed stoa. This was created by Konrad Berner of the Deutsche Archaeologisches Institut in Istanbul. 

As one can note the most intense occurrence of pieces is around the site of the stoa which stood on the south side of the Esplanade. This is understandable considering where the stoa was located and the fact that many pieces were reused as filler in the defensive wall which was created across the site and may have been the motivation for destruction of the structure in the first instance. 

Sunday, March 6, 2016

The Stoa of Diogenes

Alan Hall states "The stoa of Diogenes must have stood on the southern side of the Esplanade - an area which was either the early Agora or the exercise area for the gymnasium - and perhaps extended down the approach road from the later Agora. Secondly, it is clear that the stoa was taken down when the new defensive circuit was constructed around 270 A.D., and that its material was then used in new buildings across the northern half of the site, including the new defensive wall itself. And thirdly, it is evident that a great many more fragments lie close to the surface in this relatively restricted area". 

In the book, Epicureanism The Complete Guide edited by Paul Muljadi there is an essay by Guido Reale that states that the stoa consisted of a rectangular piazza surrounded by a portico, and furnished with statues. On one of the smaller sides was placed a portal, with perhaps Diogenes' mausoleum on the opposite side. On the two larger sides Diogenes inscribed a lengthy account of Epicurean doctrines.

Some dispute that the stoa was erected by Diogenes and may have been a pre-existing structure. Martin Ferguson Smith comments in his essay Two New Fragments of Diogenes of Oenoanda, The Journal of Hellenic Studies, Vol. 92 (1972), pp. 147-155 that : "The fact that Diogenes, an Epicurean, decided to have his work inscribed in a stoa must have greatly amused his contemporaries. But, although Diogenes, whose work is not without touches of humour, no doubt shared their amusement, he may have had a serious propagandist motive in choosing the stoa; for, although he must have decided upon it primarily because it just happened to contain the wall (or walls) best suited for the carving of the inscription, being spacious and in a public place, it is possible that his choice was influenced partly by a desire to emphasise the anti-Stoic character of his work by having it inscribed in a building of the same kind as that in which Zeno and his successors taught and from which their school derived its name: his verbal attacks on his chief philosophical opponents might seem all the more stinging and effective for being made almost literally on the Stoics' own ground. Moreover, he must have foreseen that news of an Epicurean stoa would spread far and wide, and that many ζενοι would thus be attracted to Oenoanda to see and read his work". 

Below can be seen a reconstruction by Nikolaus Koch of DAI, Istanbul (and Karlsruher IT) showing the two-storey North Stoa and the so-called Diogenes Stoa to the right. 

The stoa of Diogenes was dismantled in the second half of the third century CE to make room for a defensive wall; previously the site had been undefended.

More work is required to definitively position the stoa in the ruins of the city. This would require some, though not extensive, excavation. The shame is that so little work has been done at the city and often it has been thwarted by fluctuating interest from the authorities in permitting work by foreign archaeologists. 

Thursday, March 3, 2016

The Theatre At Oinoanda

The theatre of the city is believed to date from the 2nd century BC and is located on the northern fringe of the city, build on a natural slope. It ended up outside the walls when the Great Wall separated off the area to be abandoned.   

It was originally Greek in style (i.e. open on the stage side), but had a scene building added in Roman times, probably the second half of the first century A.D.. The cavea, which was 55 metres in diameter, sat 2,000 and faced south. In shape it exceeded a semicircle and was somewhat horseshoe-shaped. It had only one maeniana, with at least 17 rows of seats in 11 cunei

The orchestra is 17.5 m in diameter, while the frons scenae was 25.5 x 5.75 m with five doorways.

The site map above is sourced from 
Building Mk1 at Oenoanda, Author(s): Roger Ling and Alan HallReviewed work(s):Source: Anatolian Studies, Vol. 31 (1981), pp. 31-53.

As can be seen from the accompanying pictures the theatre is not in exceptionally bad condition considering the vicissitudes of earthquakes and extended exposure (it snows at site in winter). The frons scenae would appear to have potential for some sort of reconstruction. 

Sources: Sear, Frank; “Roman theatres: an architectural study”. Oxford University Press, 2006. // Ciancio Rossetto, Paola; Giuseppina Pisani Sartorio (eds); Teatri Greci e Romani: alle origini del linguaggio rappresentato. Rome: SEAT, 1995. // Bean, George; “Lycian Turkey”. London, Ernst Benn, 1978. // Freely, John; “The Western Mediterranean coast of Turkey”. Istanbul, Matbaacilik ve Yayincilik A.S., 1997. // Yilmaz, Yasar; “Anadolu Antik Tiyatrolari”. Istanbul, Yem Yanin, 2010.