Saturday, 9 March 2013

Termera - The facts.



I apologise in advance if this is a bit dry,  I've condensed the salient points as much as I can to stop you dropping off. 



As we stalwart walkers made our way up the almost imperceptible  rough path to the ancient walls of Termera,  it was easy to appreciate the strategic importance of this site. Surrounded by fertile arable land and overlooking the present day Greek Islands, Termera was for a time, the richest settlement in the area, paying 2.5 talents to the Delian League in 447BC. Like the other 7 Lelegian towns around ancient Halikarnasus, Termera consists of an inner fort on a defendable peak, surrounded by thick stone walls and naturally treacherous  descents.  Following the line of the walls we came to a stop at a rock tomb fronted by a recent excavation trench.  After 10 years of land surveys, Dr Adnan Diler from Muğla University became concerned at the extent of the illegal treasure hunting in the area and with the support of Turgutreis Town Council and the Archaeology team at Bodrum Castle, he obtained permission to start digging to preserve what remains of this settlement.  His first season in 2012 has already produced evidence of occupation from 7th Century BC.  Historical sources tell us that Termera was ruled by  Tymnes, his son Histiaios and grandson Tymnes in the 6th and 5th centuries BC  and we have physical evidence that this dynasty produced coinage in the shape of a silver coin with a kneeling figure of Herakles and the word TYMNO on one side and a lion's head and TEPMEPIKON on the other.  Charles Thomas Newton relates in his diaries how he bought the coin from a merchant in Kos in the 1850s.  It is now in the British Museum. In the report of his discoveries in Halikarnasus, Newton mistakes Aspat Hill on the coast as the site of Termera.  Later excavations identify the present site on Asarlık Hill.


While researching the site, one phrase turns up again and again; "Termeran Evil" or "Termeran Mischief". A term I hadn't come across before but refers to an action where an evil doer is given a taste of their own medicine.  The myth being that Termenos, (who could be Tymnes 1st )  the founder of Termera,  a "Lelegian of beastly nature" and a notorious pirate was fond of getting rid of his enemies by cracking their skulls with a lethal head-butt.  Herakles killed Termenos by first drugging him and then crushing his skull.  George Bean puts forward the theory that the phrase reflects the suffering of the people of Termera when Mausolos forced the population to leave their homes and move to his new capital Halikarnasus.  A return being permanently blocked when he turned their city into a prison.  Evidence from past excavations seems to prove that the city population was much reduced in the 4th century BC. 





As usual I read up on the site after I visited so a second trip will have to be made as there is a 9 metre long, double vaulted cistern and several tombs which we didn't get to see.  This time I will drive to the village of Mandira and try the shorter, less precipitous route to the top.


19 comments:

  1. I am, as always, left in awe by the incredible stories of the ancient peoples that once lived in these parts. Will look forward to your next visit.

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    1. I will try and take better photos next time.

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  2. I can't believe there are people who think of history and archaeology as boring (read 'dear son') and not very relevant to the here and now. I think it's fascinating and look forward to reading about your next trip there!

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    1. Can understand your view point as my girl's only comment on archaeology is "not more stones".

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  3. . . horses for courses - keep going, there are enough of us out here who enjoy a little 'learning' when blog-trotting :-)

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  4. Thanks Alan. The trouble with getting stuck into a bit of internet research is it results in pages and pages of notes that are fascinating to me but make a very long winded essay if reproduced in full.

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  5. So much to see and so little of it fully written up...

    We are mere amateur historians but very interested.

    And now the weather is getting better, looking forward to further exploration.

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    1. I'm hoping the new guide to the Carian Route will have some up to date information.

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  6. Spectacular views, and it's fascinating to read about the history of the place! Please don't apologise, it was a really interesting read!

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  7. Thank you for cranking up my brain....and saving my knees from the descent!

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    1. The descent was quite hairy. I luckily had my walking pole to dig in as we came down. If Jake had decided to forge ahead, I would have skied down behind him on my face.

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  8. Who needs 'Clash of the Titans'? The truth is always stranger than fiction. It's stories like this that first drew me to Anatolia.

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    1. Need a bit Lelegian movie with Brad Pitt ad Herakles.

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  9. I love this! Thank you, had no idea about this site. I have a favourite spot behind the village. It is littered with pottery fragments etc.. and large holes!!! people are always looking for treasure and one time I found a large column top smashed up. They thought there might be gold inside!!

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    1. I think you should mention the holes to Milas museum.

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  10. And I apologise in advance for being so late getting to this, especially after requesting more information. :-) Fascinating stuff and it makes me want to visit Turkey even more. How can anyone find history and archaeology boring?

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    1. I'm surprised you have had time to read any blogs P after the week you have had.

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    2. It makes a nice change from dwelling on my woes. :-)

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