New sites to be unearthed

Fifteen kilometres from Aphrodisias is the hamlet on the site of Herakleia Salbace, and worth visiting to see what Geyre (the village on top of Aphrodisias) might have looked like when it was inhabited. Antique remains are scattered throughout the village, with pieces of column and frieze built into walls, and two statue bases or altars in use as the steps to the village fountain. To the north east of the village are high retaining walls made of large squared blocks, which must be the podia or terracing of some of the public monuments of the antique site. Architetcural members poke up through the earth for a good kilometre from the village centre. Who knows what some trial digs might reveal?

At several sites, what is more, re-erection (or at least re-ordering) is in progress, and this in itself is instructive. At Ephesus, Perge and Side, for example, the diggers have gathered related blocks together, and numbered them. The visitor can therefore see very clearly the construction methods employed by the original builders - the joints employed (some still with lead in them), and the cutting back of surfaces which must mate together - as well as having the opportunity to examine sculptural details at close quarters. Indeed, multiple visits to a site might with luck give the best of both worlds - namely a close examination of the blocks on one visit, and the re-erected monument on the second. At other sites, such as Didyma, the order of working and the processes involved can easily be studied, because the monuments concerned were never finished. At yet others, such as Kaunos, the excavators have reassembled several monuments and enough columns to help the visitor.

But in spite of some fine examples of restoration, the very aesthetics of the matter are sometimes uneasy. If a lot of material remains on the site, then why not re-erect the building, the colonnade, the agora, the street? This has been done to great acclaim at Ephesus; and with startling effect at Aphrodisias. When less material survives, however, then matters are more doubtful. The Gymnasium at Sardis, while certainly fine-looking from a distance, is perhaps about 40% new, and 60% original. But what about the adjacent synagogue? Much of this seems to be brand new, especially the plaque with the names of donors to emphasize pietas. Similarly at Pergamum, it is good to see the precinct of the Trajaneum going back up again (30): the colonnade to the north-east looks splendid, and is largely original. But the cladding of much of the temple core is bare-white reconstruction, and not one of the re-erected columns of the temple itself is intact or anywhere complete - any more than are the bruised and broken fragments lying in seried ranks around the temple. The precinct of Trajan looks better re-erected than not, to be sure; but might the money conceivably have been better spent doing some more digging, either on the acropolis or in the lower town of modern Bergama?

These sour thoughts are amplified by walking 100 metres down the hill to the podium of the Great Altar of Zeus, now graced only by two fine trees and a lot of bushes. If one really wanted to make a splash at Pergamum, then the architecture and friezes of the Altar (currently in Berlin) would return and be re-erected in place. Copies of the sculptural friezes would decorate the structure, and the originals be housed either on site under cover, or in Bergama itself - a city poorly endowed with antiquities from "up the hill". Impossible, of course - not to say naive. For if one set of antiquities were returned to their place of origin, then where might it all end?

Bibliographical notes

For the survival of classical antiquities, see Greenhalgh (1989); for a survey of post-mediaeval interest in the classical past, see Weiss (1969). MacKendrick (1962) gives a popular account of the history of Greek archaeology.

For early Turkish local colour, see Chandler (1971). For a thorough study of pre-20th century interest in Didyma, followed by an account of its excavation, see Weis (1983, 104-138); Foss does the same thing for Ephesus (1979) and Sardis (1976).

For a racy account of digging problems early in this century, especially at Ephesus, see Hogarth (1910); Keil (1964) for a guidebook to Ephesus before the current rebuilding. Hanfmann (1972) for a personal blow-by-blow account of digging at Sardis, 1958-71; Hanfmann (1983) for a report. Newton (1865) for a 19thC perspective on the classical past from the discoverer of the Temple of Artemis at Ephesus. For a popular, up-to-date account of how archaeology has increased our knowledge of classical history, see Grant (1990). A photographic exhibition on Hierapolis 1957-87 circulated in Turkey and Italy from 1987; report on D. De Bernardi Ferrero's work there in Symposium 10.2 1988, 293-300. Regular reports on work at Aphrodisias: e.g. Symposium 10.2 1988, 277-91 for the 1987 season. Alzinger (1974) for a study of Augustan architecture at Ephesus.

See Raeder (1984) for material from Priene now in Berlin; Kahler (1949) and Radt (1988) for Pergamum; Hansen (1971) for the Attalid dynasty of Pergamum, Schalles (1985) for their cultural policies; and Rohde (1982) for the Pergamum Altar. Ozgur (1988) for a guidebook to Perge, and Ozgur (1984) for a guidebook to Aspendos. Ogun in Akurgal (1978, 421-6) for the excavations at Kaunos. Yeguel (1986, 152-68) for a well-illustrated account of digging and rebuilding the gymnasium complex at Sardis.

Waywell (1978) for the Mausoleum of Halicarnassus.

Not all travellers went to Turkey for its antiquities: many went as part of the 19th century interest in orientalism, and viewed this very different contemporary world, spiced with the sad remains of the past, through the spectacles of Romanticism: cf. Berchet (1985).

For an illustration of the importance of coinage in reconstructing the full splendour of decayed or vanished monuments, see Hill (1989). next chapter...

From here you may also go to The Preface, The Introduction, Building for Splendour, Town Planning, Roads, Water Supply, Aqueducts, Harbours, The Architecture of Work & Leisure, Religion: Temples & Special Sanctuaries, Funerary Art & Architecture, Decline & Renewal, The Conclusion, The Bibliography, or The Table of Contents

Greek & Roman Cities of Western Turkey