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Category:         Ancient City / Site

Civilisation:       Greek / Pisidian


Lyrbe (spelled Lyrba in the 1910 Catholic Encyclopedia; Ancient Greek: Λύρβη) was an ancient city and later episcopal see in the Roman province of Pamphylia Prima and is now a titular see.

Its name is only known by its coins and the mention made of it by Dionysius Periegetes, Ptolemy, and Hierocles. Dionysius places the town in Pisidia, while William Smith equates Lyrbe with the Lyrope (Λυρόπη), mentioned by Ptolemy and placed by the ancient geographer in Cilicia Trachaea.

Little is known about the history of the city. Moreover, the uncertainty as to its correct identification results in the lack of absolute confidence during the examination of ancient sources that describe the settlement. Until recently, it was quite commonly believed that these ruins, located in the Taurus mountains, were the remains of a town called Seleucia in Pamphylia. However, in the 80-ies of the 20th century the German scholar Johannes Noll suggested that these are rather the ruins of Lyrbe and that Seleucia was a different town, situated near the Mediterranean coast.


Click on the pic. to zoom in

The city's first name, which was put forward based on the sailors' handbook, Stadiasmus Maris Mayni, is Seleukeia. However, today, a document written in the language of Lyrbe and indicating that the same people inhabited this settlement as the city of Side in the Ancient Age was found. The idea that Seleukeia, which was founded in the 16th century, should have been a port city on the coast, possibly west of Side, which can be reached by the Manavgat Stream, gained weight.

The word 'Lyrbe' is frequently derived from the Luvian language, which had been used by the indigenous people of Asia Minor before the arrival of the Greeks to the area. The Luvian origins of the city name may indicate the existence of a settlement here in the 2nd millennium BC, but this theory has not been so far confirmed by archaeological research.


North agora gate and exedra

Nevertheless, if one assumes that the preserved buildings could be identified as Seleucia in Pamphylia, the foundation of the city should be attributed to Seleucus I Nicator, one of the generals and successors of Alexander the Great. In the end of the 4th century BC his kingdom encompassed virtually the whole of Asia Minor where at least five cities called Seleucia were founded in this period.

One can also accept the third version: perhaps Seleucia was built on the site where previously Lyrbe had stood. In any event, it is expected that more of Lyrbe/Seleucia will be heard in the future, when some significant archaeological discoveries are made there, facilitating the identification of the city and shedding some light on its history.

Lyrbe,_Agora (1).jpg

Lyrbe Agora


Lyrbe shops at stoa at agora

Archaeological work was conducted in Lyrbe in the years 1972-1979, by a team led by professor Jale İnan. Since then, unfortunately, no new research has been undertaken. An interesting finding related to Lyrbe was the identification of ancient inscriptions in Side language, specific to this area. Their content suggests that Lyrbe was inhabited by the people of the same origin as the inhabitants of Side on the coast.


Its agora is one of the best-preserved in the Pamphylia Region in the city's center. It leans on the hillside from the west. Two-storey buildings can be seen on the east coast of the Agora. There are also important ruins in the northern wing. The 'Seven Sages Mosaic' contains the portraits of seven famous thinkers such as Anaxagoras, Pythagoras, Demosthenes, Lycurgus Thucydides, Salon and Bias, and is considered a library. The mosaic has privileged importance with its workmanship and construction technique. It is exhibited in the Antalya Museum. Some of the artifacts found in the city are also in the Side Museum.

Cliffs surround the city on three sides. It has walls that have survived until today, only in the south. The monumental gate provides the entrance to the city from the south. It is limited by two monumental towers and is near the middle of the walls. The walls extending to the east and west of the entrance gate continue until the cliff. The outer surfaces of the walls were built with cut sandstone blocks in the rectagonal technique.


Lyrbe Small Podium Temple

Odeon at the end of the line of shops

Odeon at the end of the line of shops

A well preserved structure


Norteast corner of the agora

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