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Ancient Lycian City 

Istlada was a town of ancient Lycia; the name is known only from inscriptions and is uncertain because the end of the inscription has been lost. Its site is located near Hayıtlı, Asiatic Turkey, where remains, including Lycian tombs of the 4th century BCE, can be found.The site is part of the tentative UNESCO World Heritage Site called 'Ancient Cities of Lycian Civilisation'

Category:         Ancient City

Civilisation:      Lycia


Istlada was a densely occupied hillside settlement and ancient village in the vicinity of the Lycian metropolis Myra. The only church, a three-aisled basilica, dates from the sixth century. It occupies a fringe position on the outskirts of the older settlement, where it was narrowly fitted in among pre-existing buildings and some Lycian sarcophagi. As a result the outwardly polygonal main apse is orientated to the northeast. Only the secondary round apse of a south-eastern chapel maintains a duly eastern orientation. In accordance with the sloping ground the basilica’s three aisles and the chapel each have a different floor level: the northern aisle has the highest floor level, the chapel the lowest. Communication between the aisles was further impeded by slabs inserted in the intercolumniation of the nave. The eastern end of the nave was similarly closed off as a bema; the floor of the nave was covered with mosaics; the main apse contained a synthronon; a makeshift ciborium above the altar was a later addition. In front of the basilica lies an open court with a central cistern as well as flanking passages and rooms to the north and west. On the southern side of the court an arcaded propylon opened on to a path along the southern fringe of the village and formed the main entrance to the church. More arcades connected the propylon with a passage that flanks the basilica to the south and leads to the southeastern chapel. Similar passages and chapels were common in late antique Lycia and served the veneration of relics. The basilica of Istlada is of standard type and will have functioned as the parish church. Later, possibly during to the Arab raids of the seventh to ninth centuries, the basilica collapsed and was eventually replaced by a smaller chapel. This happened to many late antique basilicas in Lycia, and it is not clear, whether the smaller chapels indicate settlement continuation or renewal or whether they were mainly memorial in character.


The ancient settlement of Istlada is located on the western edge of the territory of the important polis of Myra in central Lycia. The place belongs to a type of village sub-centres widespread in the region, which ranked second in the settlement hierarchy of the Polisteritoria after the urban central places.

Below this level, hamlets and a large number of scattered individual farmsteads provided a dense network of settlements, the decentralized structure of which was adapted to the rugged character of the landscape and also permitted intensive use of small, remote areas. This settlement structure stands in clear contrast to the present-day appearance of the Central Lycian landscape, which since the beginning of modern times has only been populated comparatively sparsely and has largely become overgrown with the exception of the larger plains. Central Lycia therefore offers exceptionally favorable conditions for the preservation of the remains of ancient settlements


Ancient villages such as Istlada have proven to be rich sites for inscriptions within the Central Lycian Polisteritories after the cities themselves. As everywhere in the region, the owner inscriptions on the numerous sarcophagi dominate in these places, but occasionally there are also texts of other genres, especially decrees and honorary monuments.

  All in all, the inscriptions show that these places played an important role not only in the settlement structure, but also in the political structure of the Polisteritoria. 

 as recipient of the fines directed against illegal opening of the graves. Only from these epigraphic sources do we get any knowledge of the name of the place, which is not mentioned anywhere in the other ancient traditions, and of the existence of the local community. In addition, the texts also contain numerous personal names and various legal details that deserve special interest


Below are some translations of the texts on the sarcophagis.

Rectangular base built into the north shell of a wall attached to the west wall of the basilica (W 75, D 68, measurable H 79). Below a simply designed profile is the well-preserved inscription. The bottom of the stone is whole, the top largely hidden by masonry and rubble. The beginning of a depression can still be seen on the upper side, which could be the footsteps of a statue. The form with the name of the honored person in the accusative supports the interpretation as a basis

inscription translation

Semendesis, son of Ermapias,
son of Zbenobas,
and the decent brother of Jason

and Ermapias
his love lived as a sign
set by Gods

inscription translation

Inscription on the Sarcophagus of the brothers Pigesarmas, Kodronas and Deuktybelis

Pigesarmas, Kodronas, and Deuktybelis, the sons of Hermagoras, made the tomb for themselves, Hermagoras their father, Eropsidabe their mother, and their children; otherwise no one shall be permitted to bury anyone. Otherwise (the one) shall be sinful before the subterranean gods


Sarcophagus of Mandrobes 
Sarcophagus on high hyposorion with lid in situ; only one step is visible from the partially buried podium, which is included in a field wall. Inscription on top and below a long rectangular tabulaansata outlined with a groove on the western long side of the case. The inscription, fully preserved at the end of the 19th century, was found badly damaged in 1960: parts of the box wall had broken out and disappeared.


Mandrobes son of Ermakotas, citizen of Myra, built the tomb for himself and his wife Erpidemonis, daughter of Demetrios, citizen of Myra, and his children Demetrios and Plato, and for their children. Otherwise no one should be allowed to carry out burials unless I give written permission for someone to do so. But if anyone unlawfully undertakes a burial, he shall be a sin before the subterranean gods, but he shall also owe the community of Islada 3000 drachms, with anyone having the right to complain at a reward of, half of the amount





3-Buzağlık Ein Beispiel für ländliche Siedlungsstruktur im Umland von Istlada/Zentrallykien. Banu Yener-Marksteiner

4-Die Ruinen von Gökkaya. Ein Siedlungsplatz in der Umgebung von Istlada in Zentrallykien. Philipp Niewöhner



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