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Wednesday, 10 March 2010


Wrapped amongst the mysterious pages of history, we take off to discover the information about a couple of antique settlements far from the Aegean Sea. We continue our journey to Karian settlements in order t...o better understand the history witnessed by the geography we live in. Bleaching summer weather is slowly leaving its place to cool days of autumn. The skies are bluer but the days a re shorter; this time our destination is Alabanda and Alinda antique cities located within the borders of Çine town of Aydın. From Milas via Yatağan, we arrive at Çine. Our first stop will be at Alabanda, which is located at Doğanyurt village that is 9 km to Çine. The region has also been known as Araphisar. Hellenic era city walls, the bouleuterion, the agora, the theatre and the Roman bath are the main remains in the city along with the mausoleums. The Apollo temple, referred to by Vitrivius, the famed architect of antiquity, is the most important structure remaining. The antique city takes its name from the compounded words “Ala” and “Banda”, meaning horse and victory in Karian language. Despite the effects of thousands of years, the city remains gloriously commanding over the great prairie below, still withstanding the wild winds of the geography. Ancient inhabitants of this Karian city are a people who migrated to Asia Minor in prehistoric times. They have been the precursors of Mynos Civilization following their journey to the Aegean islands in 4000 B.C. A new migration wave brought them to Aydın-Muğla region in about 3000 B.C. The Karians settled in the region and declared the Mylasa city their capital and reconstructed the Alabanda city in Araphisar Village of Çine. Foundations of Zeus and Apollo temples were unearthed following archaeological excavations. The bouleuterion, another important structure in the city and a great many tombs on the eastern section of the city shows that the city necropolis had been situated in this area. Apart from these major structures, the aqua ducts, Roman bath and the theatre are the other important structures in the city. The city had been famed for its marbles, used in production of crystal, hemp and the pleasure seeking citizens. Today, the village, consisting of 25 households and the antique city is nested and continues its historical journey. Two of the homes were claimed public land in order to continue the excavations for the theatre. Apparently, the owner was 84 years old and died a year after. On the other hand, it is common knowledge that valuable coins that had been stolen from the city are offered for sale on the internet! Nowadays, painstaking archaeological excavation works on the theatre area are being carried out under the supervision of Emin Yener, the manager of Aydin Museum. From the information we have received on our visit, we learn that the stage section of the theatre structure had been used as baths by the pleasure seeking Roman elite at one stage. The marble seating of the structure had been grounded into dust in order to be used as isolation material to prevent leakage from the pool. A sun clock remains intact on a corner. Apparently 50 people have visited the site last year. There had been an increase in the visitors and about 100 visited the city this year. It is tragic that these rich remains of ancient Alabanda are visited only by a few. We learn from Stephanos of Byzantium that the city had been given this name by Kar; the king himself. Strabon, the great geographer and traveler tells us that the inhabitants of Alabanda were rich and lived in luxury. All the girls had been taught to play the harp. The foundations of the two temples were unearthed in excavations carried out by Halil Ethem Bey in 1905. Halil Etem Bey began excavations for the Agora but left the work incomplete and leaved the city. NAMED AFTER A VICTORY ON HORSEBACK: ALABANDA CİTY The Marsyas River of the antiquity, today’s Çine Creek, a great majority of its length flows through a deep valley passes through a wide and fertile plains before joining Maiandros in the north. Home to ancient Alabanda city, the plains are now home to today’s Çine town. Original Çine town had been situated 8 kilometers South of the current town up until last century. The new Çine was named Kıroba at a later date. Çine is well situated for a base when you want to visit Alinda, Alabanda and other secondary settlements in the region. Described by Strabon the historian as one of the three important cities in the hinterland, Alabanda city had kept up to its fame throughout the ancient times. According to Stephanus of Byzantium the legend says that the words “ala” and “banda” meant “horse” and “victory” in the Karian language. Kar the Mythological King named his son “Alabandos” after a victory he won with his cavalry army and the city was named after the prince. (Diderot) Cicero of Rome mentions Alabandos the God, in his book titled “The nature of Gods", which is the cult of the founder of the city. Apart from that, he also relays that this cult had kept its importance up until the Roman era and that although he was not sure, he had seen its depiction on some Alabanda coins. Tales of Alabanda by Herodotus Earliest historical information about the city is connected to an event that has occurred at the time of the attack by Xerxes to Greece in 480 B.C. The Greek and Persian fleets had cast anchor close by at a point on the northern point of Euboia. A Persian fleet of fifteen ships had fallen behind. When it finally arrived, the fleet mistook the Greek fleet as their own and was captured by the Greeks. The despot of Alabanda, Aridolis had been in one of the captured ships. Herodotus does not mention that Aridolis had been the captain of the ship and it is puzzling that Alabanda had kept ships in the navy despite being so far away from the sea. Herodotus continues to say that Alabanda was located in Karia kingdom but a year after that, in 479, he says that Alabanda is a great city of Phrygia and was granted to Amyntas by the Persian King. On the other hand, Stephanus records that there was a second city named However, there is no trace of a second Alabanda city neither in Karia nor in Phrygia and it wouldn’t be possible for a large city to disappear without any trace but a few inconspicuous records. As such, we may think that Herodotus had made a mistake, although slightly unlikely; but it is a fact that Amyntas had been appointed the new despot as a result of capture of Aridolis a year before by the Greeks. It is not exactly known what lay behind the claim of Stephanus; but the archaeologists are sure that there was no more than one Alabanda city in Karia. Alabanda is Hellenized Alabanda falls into oblivion throughout the expedition of Alexander the Great and we hear the name again at the end of 3.Century B.C. This time the city was known as Antiokheia of the Khrysaorens. At a regulation passed by the Amphiktyon Council of Delphi towards the end of 3. Century BC, it is recorded that an Antiokheia Consul guided by an oracle visited Delphi and glorified Antiochus for protecting democracy and peace in the city and the council was requested to grant immunity and protect the autonomy of the city in accordance with the request by the King. Thus, the autonomous state of the city was recognized by the council and was accepted to be holy for Zeus Khrysareos and Apollo Isotimos. The council resolved by unanimous votes that eight cubical sculptures, representing the city and the king, should be erected in the Apollo temple of Delphi. The beginning of this resolution suggests that the city is known as Antiokheia of Khrysaroen society of Greek heritage. Such descriptions do not point to real ethnological connections but reminds the reader that the Karian society had merely been Hellenized. In actual fact, Alabanda had been colonized by the Seleukos kings in later eras and majority of the population comprised of Greeks. The Gods of Alabanda The god Zeus Khrysareos of the two gods mentioned above is well known; but Apollo Isotimos is indigenous to Alabanda. Isotimos means “at equal value”; it may come to ones mind that since Apollo is a special god for Seleukos, it was adopted in Alabanda as a compliment to them and was immediately elevated to an equal status with Zeus. At the same time, it is possible that this god was in fact a local god but was later elevated to equal status with the Greek gods. Granting of immunity by the Greeks was an important event because of the protection from the Hellenistic raids. However, this was not enough to protect Alabanda; the immunity was short lived and the city was raided by the warriors of Macedonian King Philippos V. In their attack in Karia. Philippos, in defense of the raid on the city, had simply said that his soldiers had needed food supplies. End of Seleukos Power The Seleukos hegemony in Karia was over in 190 B.C upon Magnesia War and Antiokheia was once more named Alabanda. According to the treaty signed in Apamea following the war Lykia and Karia were handed over to Rhodes and naturally, Alabanda was included. But the hegemony of Rhodes over the city was nothing more than a mere fact. In fact, the only indication of Roman control over the city was the existence of a single Helios priest in the city. Helios is almost uniquely a Rhodes god. On the other hand when Mylasa severed its relations with Rhodes in 167 B.C Alabanda acted as an almost free city in extending help. From what we learn from Livius, an Alabanda envoy visiting Rome in 170 B.C brought with them 300 cavalry shields as well as a 50 pounds gold diadem as offerings to Jupiter. In addition, they reminded the council that they have erected a Roman City Temple in the city and held games in honor of Rome. Livius does not mention as to what the envoy requested in return; but a script from the era suggests that the Alabanda envoys sought alliance with Rome. In either case, the decision of the senate had been positive. Such are actions that can only be taken by a free city. In light of this information, no doubt we can easily claim that Alabanda had never actually been under the full hegemony of Rhodes. Coins of Alabanda It is known that the earliest coins in Alabanda were minted just before the city changed its name. Silver coins minted in honor of Antiokheia follow this. It is seen that coinage ceased when under the so called hegemony of Rhodes; but started immediately after the city was granted freedom in the year 167. This last group of coins depicts various dates until the year 133. Coinage ended in 133 B.C, when the city was inherited by Rome and the Asian State had been established. The most wide spread of the early coins depict a Pegasus; it would be impulsive to say this may be the horse which reflects itself in the etymology of the name of the city as the horse used when conquering the city. However, it would be ignorance to admit that the land is perfect for using of cavalry. It is clear that following establishing of the State of Asia, no coinage was carried out until the early dates of the Empire. It is not recorded what the state of Alabanda had been throughout the Mithridates invasion; generally speaking, just like anywhere else, the discontent with the management of the State under the Roman Republic was felt in Alabanda as well. Diderot mentions that Alabanda was one of the five cities given to Roman Banker Clivius as payment for debts. The situation did not change until after 11 years when Labienus the traitor had arrived together with Part allies. Just like the Mylasa people did, Alabanda also agreed to a garrison being settled in the city; however, they rebelled against the garrison at a later date and killed the soldiers. As a result of the rebellion, Labienus issued a heavy fine on the city and all of the sacred grounds were pillaged. Alabanda delves into debauchery As had been the case all around, joyful days had begun upon formation of the Empire. It is a fact that Alabanda had good relations with Rome from the beginning. We know that each one of Caesar, Rome and Augustus had an established cult in the city along with a cult dedicated purely for “the security and welfare “of the city. The last example is obviously strange and a unique approach. Alabanda was included in a “conventus” whereby the State government formed a court regularly in each of the cities. Coinage seems to have increased under the empire. The citizens lived in luxury and indulged in all kinds of debauchery, which exhibited the welfare of the society. Strabon mentions of many female musicians whom were traditionally part of a fete. Coins from the year 3 records the “ataleia” concessions, meaning “tax exemption”. Nevertheless it is surprising to see that the other two privileges are not mentioned about. In the year 22 A.D emperor Tiberius began examining the requests for immunities from many cities under the control of the empire. Although Alabanda had already made a request for the Zeus and Apollo temples and unless they had made a further request based on the resolution of the Amphiktyon Council two hundred years prior, they were not included in the “granted” list and the title of “exterritoriality” is not depicted in the coins in circulation. Coinage continues until mid 3. Century and Alabanda appears at the stage as a religious center under the dominion of Pontiff of Afrodisias.

(Translation published in BMagazine)

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