Bryn Mawr Classical Review

Bryn Mawr Classical Review 2003.01.09

Pierre Debord, Ender Varinlioglu, Les hautes terres de Carie. Mémoires 4.   Bordeaux:  Ausonius, 2001.  Pp. 329.  ISBN 2-910023-20-6.  EUR 73.00.  

Contributors: Pierre Debord, Raymond Descat, Patrice Brun, Koray Konuk, Alain Bresson, Ender Varinlioglu

Reviewed by Andreas Victor Walser, University of Zurich (
Word count: 3656 words

The region north of the Gulf of Kermamos -- "les hautes terres de Carie" (HTC) -- is separated by a nearly 1000m high cliff from the sea and by barren mountain ranges from the larger polis-territories in the north, east and west, and was in consequence -- so it was concluded -- also cut off from Greek civilisation. Thus the area in the triangle Mobolla -- Idyma -- Keramos never seemed to be a rewarding objective for epigraphic research. The few surveys carried out in the region apparently confirmed the conjecture: As one of the last researchers George Bean explored the sector between Mugla and Sarnic, during a whole week in 1950 just to conclude: "I saw no inscription whatever".1 The French researchers from the University of Bordeaux and their Turkish colleagues were obviously not impressed by this discouraging outlook and conducted in the years 1989 to 1993 four surveys in this very region; the results of these surveys supplemented with a few inscriptions found later are presented in this study. The insights following from this material throw manifold new light on the hitherto neglected area of the "subject peraea" and confirm the authors in their choice of subject.

Regarding the method, the authors do not and cannot claim originality: "Pour ce qui relève la méthode nous n' avons guère innové dans la mesure où les publications de L. Robert pouvaient legitimement servir de modèle" (Debord, p. 18). The goal of this "method" is the archaeological, numismatic and epigraphic documentation of a region as complete as possible and embedded in its historical geography. This documentation is based on the surveys, by which are not meant intensive archaeological surveys but epigraphic ones in the sense of the "visite systematique" of the region. The model for HTC provides in many respects the famous Corpus on the Plateau of Tabai La Carie II by Jeanne and Louis Robert, and it is programmatic when the authors dedicate their own study to them.

The corpus on the HTC is divided into five chapters varying widely in extent, which reflects the division of labour between the different writers. Considering the scope and diversity of the material, this division was certainly inevitable. Nevertheless, the strict division into an archaeological and an epigraphic part is particularly regretable. Even though the two parts refer to each other, the settlements and their inscriptions do not form the same unity, as was the case in the Roberts' work.

The book opens with a short "Introduction géographique" by Pierre Debord (pp. 11-19). After a brief history of the research project he describes the geological and climatic features of the area, which is characterised in turn by high hills and more or less wide plateaux. These geographical qualities form the framework for the agricultural exploitation and determine the possibilities of communication between the different settlements. This introduction is lavishly illustrated with both colour and black-and-white photos. A geological map visualises the physical unity of the region. The chapter closes with an excellent map of the "highlands" localising the finds -- inscriptions, fortification ruins, tombs, altars, oil presses, etc. -- as well as the interconnecting roads.

Raymond Descat deals in chap. 2 "les voyageurs" (pp. 21-22) in merely two pages with the earlier scientific explorations of the region. Starting with the first "voyageurs" in the second half of the 18th century to the Roberts and Bean,2 he describes their respective itineraries and the sites they discovered, without treating their travel reports in detail.

With chap. 3 "les sites" (pp. 23-75) follows the first main part of the study, essentially due to Patrice Brun, in collaboration with Bresson, Debord and Descat. The archaeological sites of the region are presented in geographical order, which at first sight is not easy to follow. The discussion begins with the two largest plateaux of the area, the one of Mugla (Mobolla) in the north-east and a little farther west the one of Yesilyurt (Pisye). Next come the territories around Yerkesik (Thera) south of Mugla, an area obviously rather densely populated in antiquity. Thereafter, the attention is turned to the environs of the modern villages of Çirpi, Çiftlik and Yeniköy and, therefore, to the hitherto least known interior areas of the "highlands". The coastal region follows, first of all the area around Akbük (presumably part of ancient Pladasa), the only point between Gökova and Ören (Keramos) where access to the interior is possible. Finally, the list ends with the region in the north of Keramos, where the fortified settlement of Sekköy lies -- until now completely unknown. For each of these sites, the authors give a detailed description of the visible archaeological remains. In most cases, these are more or less well-preserved ruins of castles and fortification systems, for which the complex of Sarnic furnishes certainly the most impressive example. Occasionally sanctuaries, e.g. the one of Zeus Hypatos in Çirpi, can be localised and in some cases even identified on the basis of inscriptions. Traces of the settlements themselves can seldom be discovered. Yenice-Tasyenice is an exception insofar as here the centre of the community is localised with the remains of a Hellenistic theatre and maybe of a stoa. But more often only abundant pieces of ceramic lying on the surface point to the earlier occupation whereas traces of buildings are missing completely. The numerous graves, mainly rock-cut tombs, are, of course, witnesses of the ancient communities, too.

Regarding the closer definition of certain wall-complexes or their exact dating, the authors remain cautious. They are perfectly aware of the limits of an archaeological investigation which has to cope without excavations.

Useful sketches of the ground plan often supplement the descriptions of wider architectural complexes -- fortifications or tombs. A great number of black-and-white photos illustrating the structure's details complete the documentation.

Beyond the description of the ancient remains the authors always endeavour to show by means of their observations of the climate and landscape the possibilities for agricultural cultivation. Moreover, they ask the important question about the connecting routes and, therefore, the integration of a particular settlement within the region as a whole. These aspects of historical geography are further documented with (unfortunately sometimes rather too small) pictures taken from a distance of the ruin areas and their environs.

The question of the identification of the ruin complexes with a toponym known from literature or epigraphy is clearly of great importance. However, the authors are cautious here, too. They risk an identification only where inscription finds from the location contain (as is the case with koinon of the Leukodeis in Çiftlik or of the Londeis in Çirpi) clear indications of the community's name but refrain from identification if it would have to be based solely on vague indications by a geographer or a supposed geographic order in an inscription found elsewhere.

In the short chap. 4 "les monnaies" (pp. 77-79), Koray Konuk lists the coins which locals showed to the authors during their surveys -- all in bronze except one.3 The majority of them were coined during the early Hellenistic period in south-west Anatolia, at least as far as their origins can be specified. Specimens of the later Hellenistic period are completely absent; only one piece dates from Roman times. Those coined after AD300 and in the Byzantine age, for the most part in Constantinople, are quite numerous. Konuk rightly sees the significance of these coin finds in the fact that they illustrate the circulation of coins of different origins in the region. Here, further analysis would have been interesting.

The last, and by far longest, chapter is dedicated to the inscriptions of the "high lands" ("les inscriptions grecques et latins", pp. 81-241 with the plates on pp. 243-268). Alain Bresson, Patrice Brun and Ender Varinlioglu present a total of 99 inscriptions, 45 of them hitherto unpublished.4 21 inscriptions belong to Idyma and Kallipolis, both territories not included in the surveys. According to Bresson, their inclusion is justified by their great historical interest and the fact that they cannot be separated from the inscriptions found in the area north of Idyma. Still, all except two5 of these texts from Idyma and Kallipolis were recently published by W. Blümel in his "Inschriften der rhodischen Peraia" (IK 38, No. 601-651) and, compared with this collection, the edition in HTC does not offer much new. An introduction (pp. 81-84) by Bresson precedes the texts. After a short geographical overview, he sums up the most important insights originating from the epigraphic material. The new texts confirm the differentiation first proposed by Fraser and Bean between an "incorporated" and a "subject" Rhodian Peraea. The latter is almost congruent with the area designated by the authors as the "hautes terres", the highlands of Caria, from which only the sector of Sekköy in the west has always been distinct. However, the inscriptions also make it clear that, towards the end of the Hellenistic age, this differentiation ceases to make sense. In addition, the texts testify to the existence of a number of hitherto completely unknown village communities, called by themselves "koina": the koinon of the Leukoideis in Çirpi, the one of the Londeis in Çiftlik or the one of the Koloneis, presumably in Yeniköy-Küçükbelen, to mention only those localised with considerable certainty. However, the existence of three koina of a "higher level" attested in the texts is of even greater historical interest. The one of the "Pisyetai and the Pladaseis united with the Pisyetai", the one of the Theraioi and the one of the Tarmianoi. All these "higher level" koina in turn include a whole number of "simple" koina and thus have their own regional political sphere.

The introduction by Debord at the beginning of the book already contains a description of the geograph, but only in Bresson's introduction do we find an explanation of the -- as he states himself -- not really evident designation of the region as "the high lands of Caria". An overview of the inscriptions was already given by Debord as well, to which Bresson's remarks are welcome additions, but both could have been easily placed in one general introduction.

The editorial principles are developed in the next section. The texts are arranged in chronological order according to the sites where they were found. The sites themselves are ordered according to the three "higher level" koina. Though this makes sense, it results in a geographical order different from the one chosen for the presentation of the archaeological material. A uniform arrangement of the sites would have made the orientation easier for the reader.

The presentation of the different inscriptions follows the norms of the database PETRAE developed by Bresson,6 on which the publication is based. Thus, two numbers head each inscription, one specifically for the present edition and the other in brackets for the database.7 The usual details on the preservation of the stone, its provenience and present location, its measurements and indications on style of lettering and letterforms follow. For every inscription, without exception, a date is given, even though it has to be based in most cases solely on the letterforms and, in consequence, is -- as Bresson emphasises in his introduction -- often inexact. The bibliography of the previous editions is according to the standard established by Robert "genetic", i.e. editions based on the autopsy of the stone or a squeeze are distinguished from those derived only from the earlier publications. What seems somehow peculiar is that every bibliographical lemma contains as the last entry under "HTC xy", i.e., the present edition. Finally, the important secondary literature is listed.

The text of the inscription with the usual critical apparatus and -- except for very short fragments and name lists -- a translation, and finally the commentary follow. Wherever possible, a generally useful photo of the stone, or more often of the squeeze, completes the presentation of a text. For the inscriptions from Idyma and Kallipolis, no pictures are given.

The majority of the texts are often short funerary dedications, which seldom pose serious textual difficulties. Half of the new inscriptions were found in Pisye, which is with 30 texts the richest settlement. I will comment briefly on some of the more important texts (Inedita are marked with an asterisk (*)).

No. *1: A subscription list of the Pisyetai and the Pladaseis "united with the Pisyetai" (τῶν μετὰ Πισυητῶν) from the 3th century BC for an Epidosis for the construction of Neoria ("ship halls"), found in Pisye. The analysis of the geographical situation makes it clear that the Neoria can only been placed in the bay of Akbük. All subscribers come from the region and are designated with an ethnikon, four of them found only here. The contributions, sums between 100 and 10 drachma, attest to the considerable wealth of the noble families. By the time of the subscription the koinon of the Pisyetai and the Pladaseis united with the Pisyetai was under the control of either a king or Rhodes; the authors leave the question open.

No. 6: A dedication of a κοινὸν τῶν κωμητῶν: In the commentary, the authors discuss different possibilities for the interpretation of the expression, without deciding for one or the other. However, in their text they print τῶν Κωμητῶν (with a capital letter) and translate it with "the koinon of the Kometai", thus understanding it as a name.8 Yet, nothing rules out the obvious, a literal interpretation as "the association (koinon) of the villagers".

No. 10: A funerary dedication of a Rhodien to his wife: The dedication ends with the expression σωφροσύνης ἕνεκα τῆς ἰς αὐτήν. Fraser and Bean commented in their (Fraser-Bean No. 44) "τῆς ἰς αὑτόν would be more natural." Already G. Klaffenbach in a letter to L. Robert, which is cited in the commentary, protested against this hypothesis and suggested "correcting" it to "περὶ αὐτήν because σωφροσύνη can only be an attribute of the honoured wife.9 Taking these considerations as starting point, Bresson discusses the cases where the grammatical gender or number of the one honoured is not congruent with the pronoun depending on εἰς. He shows convincingly, that εἰς c. acc. (like περί can replace a genitive case and, therefore, a "correction" of the text is not needed. Bresson suggests that the formula εὐνοιαω ἕνεκεν τῆς ἰς αὐτόν (vel. sim.) be translated -- wherever it cannot be related reflexively on the one honoured -- as "for the goodwill which is his own".

No. *16: Funerary dedication by Chotis, daughter of a Rhodian Agriades, for her husband Leon, the son of a Rhodian Agriades, too. Is Chotis a (half-)sister of Leon?

No. 25: A convincing new reading of I. Peraia 758 on the basis of a facsimile preserved in Vienna: Diotos was not the priest of an otherwise absolutely unknown [ἥρῳ] αβραικω. but ἱερατεύσα[ς διὸς [Λ]α.βρα.[ύ]ν.[δου].10

No. *28: Altar of the "Highest" (Hypsistos) and No. 29: Dedication to Zeus Hypsistos. The authors have not (yet?) seen the comprehensive paper by S. Mitchell on the cult of Theos / Zeus Hypsistos in which he re-values the relation between the cult and Judaism.11 No. 29 is also published in Mitchell's source collection.

No. *31: A funerary dedication by the family and eight koina. The latter arranged for the deceased a public funeral, for which they donated money. For only two of them is the sum preserved, in both cases 20 drachmas, from which the editors derive the same sums for the other six koina; this is hardly convincing. In l. 8 the restoration κκ' is a misprint and the text should read [τ]ὸ κοινὸν τὸ Πιστ[ιανῶν] vac. κ' vac. τὸ κοινὸν τὸ].

No. *36: A long honorary decree of the hitherto unknown koinon of the Leukoideis for Sopatros, "Rhodian", presumably a member of the local elite. In this decree, dated by the editors in the years between 107 and 80 BC, Sopatros is praised inter alia for serving the koinon repeatedly and free of charge as advocate (ἔγδικος), as the editors assume, by negotiations in Rhodes. Finally, he has earned merit "in the great events that happened" (τοῖς τε ἐν πράγμασ[ι]ν μεγάλοις γεγενημένοις). The only, briefly mentioned, assumption made by the editors, that these "events" could be the Mithradatic war, is obvious, and it would have been rewarding to develop it further (cf. also No. 56).12 Executive magistrates appear in the inscription as Komarchai. In the editors' view, the plural requires explanation. They suppose that each village or hamlet of the koinon elected one Komarch who then presided together over a "federal assembly". Such a construction is not needed. Similar examples show sufficiently that in most cases more than one Komarch presided over a village.13

No. *37: l. 12 read τοῦ{ς} for τοῦ[ς].

No.*38: Dedication of the koinon of the Leukoideis for Euphranor, which gives insights into the career of a village magistrate. He was a priest, neokoros and oinotamias (οἰνοταμιεύσαντος). The latter office is attested nowhere else but explained by the editors convincingly as administrator of a fund for the purchase of wine for a celebration in honour of Zeus Hypatos. Euphranor also held secular offices. He was Komarch and "rectified all affairs of the koinon" (διορθωσαμένου τὰ τοῦ κοινοῦ πάντα).

No. *39: Dedication of a Nymphaion to Zeus Karios by two Hierotamiai of the hitherto unknown but now doubly attested community of the Londeis. As the editors' revision shows, I. Stratonikeia 8 is probably also a decree of the Londeis.

No. *42: A funerary dedication of various koina for a Rhodian. Beside others, there is a commune koinon of the Londeis and the Koloneis.

No. 47: The important honorary decree already published by the authors in 1990 dated in the year 319/318. The Plataeian Kratesippos -- probably a companion of Alexander the Great -- forgave the Londeis a debt of 210 Chrysoi in gold.

No. 48: Bresson gives a revised text of the judgement by Eupolemos from Laubraunda (Labraunda III.2 No. 42), in which is cited a decree of Pladasa. In addition to several new restorations he comments extensively on various aspects of the inscriptions (pp. 160-171) and discusses especially the problem of the disappearance of Pladasa as an independent community.

No. *56: Honorary decree for the Rhodian Phanias, who served "in the war", most probably Mitradadic.

No. *61: Subscription list from Akçaova of members of various koina, which appear later together as the koinon of the Tarmianoi.

No. 62: Honour for the Rhodian epistates Sosikrates from Mobolla (Mugla). Bresson gives an extensive commentary, where he discusses especially the controversial question whether the Tabai of the inscription is the well-known Tabai in eastern Caria or a second, small village near Mugla. Bresson argues against Robert for the latter.14

No. 63: Honour for the Rhodian hagemon Chrysippos, who served as Strategos over the Caunian "demes" Artuba and Parableia. The authors date the inscription to the first century BC and conclude that he must have served in Caunus after 83 BC, the year in which Rhodes regained possession of this city (until ca. 50 BC). In fact, the question of the "possesion" of Caunus in these years is more complicated, and the exact dating of Rhodes' reign over Caunus is still uncertain.15

No. 84 from Kallipolis and No. 89 of the koinon of the Laodikeis: Two honorary decrees published in 1995 and already repeatedly discussed from the middle of the 2nd century BC for the priest of Panamara Leon. The editors argue that the Laodikeia is not -- as Debord and others believe -- Laodikeia at the Lykos but a community somewhere in the region of the Gulf of Keramos, as previously suggested by Fraser and J. Ma; Th. Corsten has recently argued persuasively in this journal against the opinion of Debord,16 but his own interpretation of the koinon of the Laodikeis as an "association of the citizens of Laodikeia at the Lykos settled in Panamara" is not very convincing.

Nos. 90 and 91: A heavily mutilated treaty between Mylasa and Kindya and a name-list somehow related to it, published by Blümel in 1990 as I. Mylasa No. 11 and 12. The discovery of an ancient settlement at Sekköy, where the inscriptions were found, makes Blümel's assumption that the inscriptions were carried off from Mylasa superfluous. P. Brun gives the texts with small alterations and comments primarily on the geographical distribution of the ethnika. His thoughts -- based on Blümels onomastic observations -- on the proportion of Greek to Carian names are instructive.

No. *92 A and B: On one stone a donor list and a honorary decree for two epitropoi, both inscriptions dated to the 2nd century BC. The editor's opinion is that the honoured were the city's "administrators of the cult". The interesting inscription is unfortunately badly mutilated.

Nos. 93-97: The milestones from Sekköy already published in 1992 by D. French and Varinlioglu (among them the only Latin inscriptions). In an Appendix as No. *#1, an inscription found in Çiftlik is published, which was obviously brought there from Panamara and as No. #2 a relief-stele found by Benndorf north of Mugla and today lost.

Several detailed indices for the epigraphic section facilitate further research: Besides a general index of Greek words, there are others for the verba propria and terms of historical interest, such as political or military functions. The concordance gives an overview over the earlier editions. The book closes with a index of names covering all sections of the book.

In his introduction, Bresson makes it perfectly clear that the authors did not aim to write a synthesis of the region's history. Instead, they limited themselves to presenting the material needed for this, and they executed this task in a careful and exemplary manner. They opened up for further research a whole region which was hitherto in great parts terra incognita. However, in the light of all this material a new historical synthesis, which could replace the pioneering study by Fraser and Bean on the Rhodian Peraea, remains an even more urgent desideratum. The preconditions for it are now better than ever.


1.   P. M. Fraser - G. Bean, The Rhodian Peraea and Islands, Oxford 1954 (henceforth Fraser - Bean), p.1.
2.   Otherwise than stated by Debord, Bean conducted the survey in the Peraea alone and was not accompanied by Fraser (cf. Fraser - Bean p. V).
3.   It could be noted that Bean already saw in the sector west of Yerkesik a "surprising abundance of coins", exclusively in silver (Fraser - Bean p.1).
4.   Varinlioglu presented three of these inscriptions (Nos. 1. 14. 15) in a preliminary version in the "Preatti" of the XI Congresso Internazionale di Epigrafia Greca e Latina, Roma, 18-24 settembre 1997, Rome 1997, pp. 297-307, and they are now included in SEG 48, 1998, No. 1344-1346.
5.   These are the important decree for the priest of Panamara (No. 84), first published in 1995 and the unpublished No. 87, a short fragment with only a few isolated letters.
6.   An English description of the programme can be found on Bresson's homepage.
7.   This second number may have a function in the future; for the moment it is, if not bothersome, then at least superfluous.
8.   For an example of κώμη as a name the authors refer to IG XII.5, 872, but even here the interpretation as a name is not cogent at all.
9.   Klaffenbach's citation is distorted by a misprint. He must have written -- citing Fraser and Bean -- τῆς εἰς αὐτόν and not τῆς ἰς αὐτ́ην. That Fraser and Bean have read ἐις instead of ἰς (wrongly, as the photo proves), is nowhere indicated.
10.   According to the facsimile, the exact reading would be [λ]α.βρα.- vac. [ύ]ν.[δου].
11.   S. Mitchell, The Cult of Theos Hypsistos, in: Pagan Monotheism in Late Antiquity, P. Athanassiadi - M. Frede (edd.), Oxford 1999, 81-148. In reaction to Mitchell's paper now M. Stein, Die Verehrung des Theos Hypsistos: Ein allumfassender pagan-jüdischer Synkretismus?, EA 32, 2001, 119-125. A detail: in No. 29 one should read with Blümel in l. 2-3 χρησμὸν ᾀνατίθι instead of χρησμὸν ͅ νατίθι.
12.   On Caria during the Mithradatic War cf. Ch. Marek, Karien im ersten Mithradatischen Krieg, in: P. Kneissl - V. Losemann (edd.), Alte Geschichte und Wissenschaftsgeschichte. FS Karl Christ, Darmstadt 1989, 285-308 and M. D. Campanile, Città d' Asia Minore e Roma, Studi ellenistici 8, 1996, 145-173.
13.   The authors have not seen the study of Ch. Schuler, Ländliche Siedlungen und Gemeinden im hellenistischen und römischen Kleinasien, Vestigia 50, München 1998, which is of great importance for several aspects of their own work. On the office of the Komarch cf. pp. 231-235, with the references.
14.   Without deciding for one or the other interpretation, we might note that P. Debord, in A. Bresson - R. Descat (edd.), Les cités d'Asie Mineure occidentale au IIe siècle a.C., Bordeaux 2001, p. 168 does not accept Bresson's argumentation and follows Robert. Although the paper is cited elsewhere in the book, this is not recorded in the commentary.
15.   Cf. Marek (cited above n. 12) pp. 304-307.
16.   Review of the book edited by Bresson and Descat (cited above n. 14), Bryn Mawr Classical Review 2002.03.03.

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