Saturday, 27 October 2012

Labranda


As promised, a short guide dedicated to Labranda. 


We are heading for the top of the mountain in the middle of the photograph. The first time I drove to Labranda, I thought the car axle would fall off as we had to bump over a pebbly river bed and scrabble up scree, but much progress has been made in the past 3 decades and now there is a "proper" highway almost all the way to the site.


Almost...the last kilometre is a bit rough and I wouldn't want to visit in the rain. As I drive up, and look down at the fantastic view,  I have to remind myself that in the 4th century BC, once a year, pilgrims walked or rode the 14 kms from Milas along a 8m wide sacred way, to spend 5 days sacrificing, feasting, playing sports and celebrating in honour of Zeus. It's apt then that we are visiting on the first day of Kurban Bayram - Sacrifice Festival - Eid Al-Adha.



The name Labranda or Labraunda is thought to come from  the word "Labrys" a double headed axe which was the cult symbol of Zeus Labraudos and a sanctuary to him was established around 650BC on this  mountain top.  It was originally probably just a cleared plateau with spring water that drew devotees from Mylasa. The sanctuary developed immensely in the 4th century BC due to the influence of Hecatomnus and his family. 



A brief history lesson: Hecatomnus, a native Carian ruling Milas as a Persian satrap, had 3 sons; Mausolus, Idrieus and Piksodarus and 2 daughters; Artemissa and Ada. Mausolus married Artemissa, and Idrieus married Ada. Mausolus succeeded his father in 377BC and at a sacrificial feast at the sanctuary at Labranda, narrowly avoided being assassinated.  To celebrate his survival, he embarked on a building program that was continued after his death in 352BC  by his brother Idrieus until his own death in 344BC.  The Roman period is represented by two bath houses and Christianity appears in the shape of two churches and a baptistry.


The Temple to Zeus probably planned by Mausolus but constructed by his brother Idrieus. 



Above is one of the two "Andrones" or dining rooms built to hold feasts; the walls still stand to 8m high. There was one Androne for favoured guests where about 40 men would eat enjoying the view from the large windows  and one for less important visitors. The majority of visitors would camp at the site.


The word "Labranda" is synonymous with water in Milas. For years it was the only drinking water available and there are 32 spring houses between the site and Milas.  The spring under the giant split rock at the top of the site was probably the reason the sanctuary was originally developed here. 


There are over 100 tombs visible today outside the site. This is the most impressive, just above the sacred terrace, with 5 sarcophagi inside and a vaulted ceiling.


There are also rock cut tombs above the site and many individual sarcophagi covered by a massive stone gabled lids on the way up to and after the sanctuary. 



In antiquity there would have been many priests , workmen and farmers living on and around Labranda. Now there's just the guardian.  Gulsum will take your 5TL in exchange for a ticket and sell you a jar of honey for 15TL. She also gave us a large stick to keep off her dogs that took offense to Jake's visit. 

28 comments:

  1. Really interesting post and great photos. I can't believe there's so much virtually on my doorstep thatg I still haven't seen.

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    1. It wasn't very clear so I couldn't take good shots of the view. Need to go early in the morning.

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  2. Your post today reminds us of how archaeologically rich Turkey is and got us running to wikipedia for a quick primer on Caria and Carians. We realize we've got a long way to go to scratch the surface of the history of all of the peoples who have inhabited this land. Thanks for providing the catalyst.

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    1. When we drove from Bodrum to Ephesus, we saw so many signs pointing to the different ancient sites along the router, and one of them was Labrnda. We didn't have time to stop off to visit them, but have made a mental note to add them to a future excursion.

      Great summary and photo's.

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    2. There's so much more to tell about it. 134 inscriptions have been found which allow the site to be closely dated. Some of them report communication with Philip V of Macedon.

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  3. This is clearly an amazing site, and so worth the trek up that road. Beautifully described and photographed...much enjoyed, thanks J.

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    1. I'm so glad to be able to visit sites again. 12 years working none-stop in the UK put paid to my exploring.

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  4. Gosh, this site looks fabulous! I've never even heard of it either! Turkey is so amazing, isn't it? The whole place is one great archaeological site! Must go there!! Thanks for this super post.

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    1. We are so lucky here - I'm keen to get up to your part of the world in summer next year. My husband spent his childhood summers in Edremit which isn't that far away from Assos.

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  5. What a fascinating place this is, Annie. I'm pretty ignorant about Turkey and it's only when I think about Istanbul/Constantinople and the Ottoman Empire that the history of the place hits me - and Turkish Baths and flying carpets - it is amazingly rich in history and must be such a wonderful place to live - despite being given a stick to beat off dogs...!
    Great post,
    Axxx

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    1. It's great looking up historical sources for these sites. In 2nd C AD Plutarch explained why the statue of Zeus had a double edged axe. Strabo mentioned that the marble at Labraunda came from Mylasa and said what the sacred way measured. Pliny the Elder swrote that there was a pool of eels at the Labraunda sanctuary which suggests that there was a fish oracle there. Once started, it's difficult to stop researching.

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    2. Just finishing George Orwell's 'Keep the Aspidistra Flying' so I think a complete change is necessary - I shall look out something with a Turkish theme.
      Axxx

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  6. I was about to ask you what you suggested I read...and there I get my start in your answer to Annie!

    Off to the books!

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  7. Freya Stark's "Alexander's Path" is a good start - although she has strange names for some places and Brian Sewell"s "South from Ephesus" is a good read.

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  8. Oh, glad you've done this post because we always notice the signposts for Labranda when we're driving that way. Now we know it's worth the effort to head on that way. :)

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    1. It is well worth the 14km diversion.

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  9. All that incest and naughty goings on. Disgraceful! ;-)

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  10. Hi Annie! Useful reminder to turn off for this site - passed it by too often. It's the sort of place J and I love - lots to seek out and no crowds.

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    1. It does get visited by jeep safaris so can't promise it will be empty.

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  11. Merhaba; never been to Labranda and I now really would love to go, thanks to you :) and I will most probably get the jar of honey from Gulsum : ) many thanks for this lovely post,
    Ozlem

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  12. What a most fascinating post and I love when you post the history and wonderful photos of this amazing site..... I've never been to that part of your world, but hope to this spring when I got to Izmir for a couple of months...this is a must.
    I see you had to drive up a steep hill......eekks that will freak me out...but I'll get there somehow as long as I don't drive and look down.
    Thanks for posting this and enjoy your day....

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    1. I hope we can meet up if you get down to Bodrum.

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  13. Hello and thank you once again for taking me on a journey back in time with you. In November 1993 I got to visit Greece and see some archeological sites. The touching of the past in the present awes me. To think that people walked here on this land and thought and loved, hated and wept. The Oneness of it all almost makes me tremble with glory. Peace.

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    1. I'm amazed that over 2,000 years ago, there was a better road to this site than there is now.

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  14. Oh, this post tells me yet again that I must, must, MUST visit Turkey one day - not for the beaches but for the archaeology and history. A truly fascinating post and beautifully illustrated. I so enjoyed that, BtoB.

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    1. You could fire up your camper van and be here in 2 days from France or 3 days from the UK.

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