Peter Smith

Publications, Lectures and Other Stuff

Termessos

 

The ruins of the ancient city of Termessos are located high up on the southern flanks of the Taurus Mountains a mere 34 kilometres inland from the modern southern Turkish city of Antalya on the Mediterranean coast. Most of the ruins lie across a natural platform on the mountain side at a height of over 1,000 metres above sea level (a lot of it around 3,400 ft), and is at a comparable height to Snowdon, the highest mountain in Wales.

As I understand it, the city has been comparatively under-researched, so much remains to be discovered from archaeological investigations. In main outline, its history is as follows:

The city’s exact date of origin appears to be unknown, but it was already well-established by the 4th century BC, when it successfully defied Alexander the Great, who abandoned an attempt to take the city in 333 BC – describing it as an eagle’s nest.

Its original people are described as Solymi, one of the ancient Pisidian tribes of Anatolia, named after the god Solymeus – later renamed Zeus Solymeus during the Hellenic period. The site of their city was well-chosen. Situated on a saddle on the mountain side it is easily defended, and with fortifications very hard for an ancient army to take. The Solymi also had a war-like reputation which probably gave them a psychological advantage against would-be aggressors. The city also commands one of the important access and trade routes from the coast into the Anatolian interior. As with other Pisidian settlements in the mountains, the Solymi could utilize plentiful supplies of rainwater for irrigated farming, and in the city itself a number of large underground cisterns for water storage were constructed, as well as an aqueduct to bring in water from outside.

Although they defied Alexander, the Solymi became part of the Hellenistic world and later allied themselves with Rome, becoming an autonomous city state, with their independence recognized by the Roman Senate. Of the ruins, a number date from the Hellenistic or Roman eras. During the early Christian period, the region Christianized, and the city was represented by a bishop. Already in decline, the city was apparently abandoned in the 5th C AD, in part because the aqueduct that had become its main source of water collapsed during an earthquake. 

Some photographs of the site taken by my wife and myself in April 2011:

 

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This entry was posted on February 21, 2014 by in Turkey and tagged .
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