Category: Ancient City
Ancient Lycian City
Kelbessos İs located in the Ağırtaş area of the Çağlarca-Doyran basin of the Bey Mountains facing Antalya. It forms the west point of a triangle formed by Kelbessos, Trebenna and Neapolis. It is within the territory of Termessos and was an important border fortress for Termessos from the Hellenistic and through the Roman period.
It was settled as a military site and retained this character through the Roman period. Thesouth side of Termessian territory was bounded by the Bey Mountains in antiquity whichprobably also influenced the formation of the administrative borders.
Outdoor Tracking Route
This mountainousregion also formed a natural cultural border between Lycia and Pamphylia and was set-tled with numerous villages and secondary settlements in its fertile valleys and secure hills during the Hellenistic and Roman periods. Some of these settlements have been certainly identified through finds of insitu inscriptions. 21 inscriptions were examined within theepigraphic surveys in the region that clearly record this site was called Kelbessos. Having the status of a peripelion within the territory of Pisidian Termessos, the link withTermessos was established through a coin find.
The remains date from the Hellenistic period and extend into the Late Roman period. The settlement contains numerous rock-cutcisterns as well as architectural elements. In addition to the fortification wall, there arebuildings and groups of buildings scattered on the north slope of the hill, including mili-tary buildings, houses, public buildings, tombs and work-areas. Only the visible remains of a small chapel can be related to the Byzantine period. The name of Artemis mentioned inthe inscriptions and the bunches of lightning depicted on the altars as well as the tem-ple ruins, all indicate that the deities worshiped here are the same as those worshippedelsewhere in the region. Other evidence regarding religious beliefs at Kelbessos includephallos reliefs and niches. The large number of phallos and shield motifs carved in relief was due to the military character of this settlement.
The two necropolii – one in the northeast and the other in the southwest – mainly con-tain sarcophagi. The main necropolis is a typical Roman period necropolis arranged onboth sides of the road leading to the city. These sarcophagi, which constitute the majority of the tombs, are of the Pisidian type with shield and spear motifs with atabula ansata between. Many sarcophagi, some of which are of high quality, are decorated in relief. Inaddition to the scenes related to the tomb owners, carvings of Erotes and garlands are alsocommon. While this necropolis has only sarcophagi, the southwest necropolisalso contains monumental built tombs and chamosoria. Only one circular rock-cut os-tothek has been found at Kelbessos.
When the remains were explored, it was seen that the settlement developed very slow-ly and did not experience major changes for centuries. Evaluating the clustering and thedistribution of the architectural remains, the Roman period settlement outside the fortifica-tions was well developed, however, it is possible to say that Kelbessos never participatedin the real process of urbanisation but rather stayed as a second degree military provincialsettlement throughout its history. Theabsence of large sized public buildings within the walls indicates a settlement lacking the characteristic features of a city and from the large number of cisterns and tombs, as wellas prevalence of military motifs, it can be said that a large number of soldiers were settled here during the Roman period. However, the military presence here began during theHellenistic period when the fortifications were constructed.
The most important building at Kelbessos is an administrative one, which can betermed, a Roman principia . Ginouvѐs describes a principia as follows: “with amonumental entrance, a courtyard, … meeting halls, a courthouse and, above all, a sacredplace where the military tokens were kept”. This building type had emerged through evolutionfrom the tent of the general at a military camp and overlaps within the framework of a peripolion. There was a small military garrison at Kelbessos in the beginning, which thendeveloped into a large settlement; however, the administrative type did not change and t he Peripolion was always governed by soldiers. This building precisely reflects the politi-cal and urban status and structure of Kelbessos and it defines itself not only as a publicstructure but also the city of Kelbessos.
The strategic value of the area arises from its physical location which just by a moun-tainous pass, on the slope of a pointed mass of rock that allows visual control of thePamphylian plain and, both inland.