Bryn Mawr Classical Review

BMCR 2018.11.47 on the BMCR blog

Bryn Mawr Classical Review 2018.11.47

Celal Şimşek, Turhan Kaçar (ed.), Geç Antik Çağ'da Lykos Vadisi ve Çevresi / The Lykos Valley and Neighbourhood in Late Antiquity. Laodikeia Çalışmaları, Ek Yayın Dizisi/Supplementary Series 1, 1.   Istanbul:  Ege Yayinlari, 2018.  Pp. 472.  ISBN 9786059680585.  


Reviewed by Ine Jacobs, University College, Oxford (ine.jacobs@univ.ox.ac.uk)

[Authors and titles are listed at the end of the review.]

“Things are getting very exciting in the Lykos valley.” Mark Whittow’s words at the start of his own contribution to this volume could not ring truer. The excavations of Laodikeia and Hierapolis have uncovered a substantial amount of evidence pertinent to the late antique period. Together with the research conducted in other cities in the Lykos valley, a region located within the ancient province of Phrygia, they hold the potential for considerably enhancing our understanding of the life and development of the city in late antiquity.

Cities are indeed at the centre of this first volume of the Laodikeia Çalışmaları Supplementary Series, which results from a meeting held at Pamukkale University (Denizli) in 2015. The main goal of both meeting and book was to study the latest discoveries in Laodikeia and Hierapolis, other cities in their immediate surroundings, and the broader Lykos valley. The result is a sumptuously illustrated volume with 24 contributions, written either in English with Turkish abstracts or in Turkish with English abstracts. The first seven articles deal with more general late antique matters, seven are focused on Laodikeia, five on Hierapolis, and another five on other cities of Western Anatolia: Tripolos, Tralleis, Ephesus, Magnesia, and Stratonikeia. The contributions are of varying length. Those in the first part of the volume are very concise, though all authors take care to provide the reader with ample references to recent pertinent scholarship.

The volume starts out with a very general introduction to late antiquity, broadly defined as the period between 200 and 800, highlighting pertinent discussions in past and current international scholarship. This is not as superfluous as it may seem at first sight; as the editors also mention in their introduction to the volume, late antiquity has always been in the shadow of the preceding ages in Turkey, even though the region was of the utmost importance in the late Roman empire. So far, the period has not yet received much attention within the Turkish academic community, as is also shown by the fact that of the seven articles in this first part five are authored by non-Turkish scholars. Greatrex and Mitchell re-visit the supposed main factors for the end of antiquity, respectively the Sassanian invasions and the so-called Justinianic Plague, whereas Kristensen focusses on another factor that is often thought to have determined life in the antique city: earthquakes. Although all these external events no doubt influenced life in the Lykos valley and beyond to some degree or another, the article by Whittow points out that archaeologists see the determining factors they set out to see in the evidence and overall argues for a more evidence-led research. The first part of the volume is completed by two articles dealing with the Lykos valley as an integrated unit: Külzer discusses the roads connecting the province to the rest of the region, as well as the interior roads, whereas Sayar very briefly touches upon the lesser well-known settlements in the area.

Part II of the volume zooms in on the site of Laodikeia, which is being excavated by a team from the University of Pamukkale (Denizli) under the direction of Celal Şimşek. Laodikeia has an important place in early Christianity as it was one of the Seven Churches of Asia and thus a major pilgrimage destination. With this particular background in mind, it is no surprise that the development of Christianity in the city and related material culture are never far away in this section. The contributions discuss evidence that has at least partially has also been published in the Laodikeia Çalışmaları series. After a general overview of the city in late antiquity, topics include an overview of the city’s churches, conservation and restoration of the main church and its mosaics, local martyrs and hagiography, late antique pottery, a more focussed presentation of ampullae with depictions of saints and ivory plague of St. Thecla in relief, and, finally, inscriptions newly discovered at one of the city’s temples.

Part III presents the results of the Italian Archaeological Mission in Hierapolis (MAIER), until 2017 directed by Francesco D’Andria. The topics dealt with in the separate contributions are similar. This section as well starts with a general overview of the evidence pertinent to the period in Hierapolis, followed by a lengthy overview of recent epigraphic finds in the city and its territory. The following two articles then focus on the sanctuary of St. Philip. De Giorgi examines the sculptural finds since 2010 (structural elements, liturgical furnishings, and decorative elements) found inside the church of the apostle, allowing a reconstruction of the appearance of the sanctuary from the second until the fourteenth century, whereas Piera Caggia analyses the pavements of the Octagonal Bath, the Martyrion and the three-aisled Church, the last of which was still maintained in the tenth century. The section closes with an overview of the entire life of the fascinating Ploutonion of Hierapolis, from the archaic period to the first half of the sixth century, when the area lost its sanctuary function entirely, though it remained inhabited.

In Part IV, the results of more recent excavation and survey expeditions in Tripolis and Tralles are briefly presented, again with attention for development of religion. Tripolis is an interesting case as the city not only made good use of its position on the pilgrimage route, but also because it is one of the sites where there is material evidence for the Sassanian invasions has been identified. Tralles remains known mainly as the birthplace of the brothers Alexandros of Tralles (the celebrated late antique physician), Anthemius (who designed the Hagia Sophia), Olympius (a noted laywer), and their slightly less well known brothers Metrodorus (a grammarian in Constantinople) and Dioscorus (also a physician). Added to this are overviews of late antique remains uncovered in the course of excavations and surveys within the city walls of Stratonikeia and environs; an overview of late antiquity at Ephesus, with a discussion of the most recent discoveries; and a reconsideration of the dating of the walls encircling the city centre of Ephesus and of Magnesia on the Meander. The date proposed here, the 260s, is a remarkable change from earlier dating proposals that would assign these walls to the very end of antiquity, a date also maintained in the preceding article on Ephesus.

Throughout the volume, there is a strong focus on religion and monumental remains of churches. Although there are some contributions that focus entirely on small finds and these do feature in some of the general overviews, it would be useful to, in the future, see them placed into their excavation contexts in a consistent manner. The archaeological record in the cities presented in this volume obviously is a treasure trove that can supplement, add to, but sometimes also contradict historical sources. Kristensen stresses this point in his contribution on earthquakes in the region, but some of the other articles may be too dependent on literary testimonies. There are some typos and grammatical mistakes (for instance “the late antiquity” occurs a couple of times), as well as a few infelicities concerning figures. For instance, figure 1 in Kristensen’s article shows the reconstructed colonnaded street, rather than the “Fallen columns left in situ” referred to in the caption. Other images are duplicated. Thus figure 11 in Simsek’s article is the same as figure 1 in the contribution by Bayram, whereas figure 14 of Simsek’s article is repeated as figure 3 in Huttner’s contribution, though now in black- and-white). That said, this volume presents a very useful overview of fascinating recent excavations and discoveries and makes us eagerly await further publications in the same series.

Authors and titles

I. Geç Antik Çağ ve Lykos Vadisi (Late Antiquity and the Lykos Valley)
Geç Antik Çağ Nedir? (What is Late Antiquity?) – Turhan Kaçar
The Impact on Asia Minor of the Persian invasions in the Early Seventh Century (Erken VII. Yüzyılda Sasani İşgallerinin Anadoly’ya Etkileri – Geoffrey Greatrex
The Great Plague of Late Antiquity in Asia Minor (Geç Antik Çağ Anadolu’sunda Büyük Veba) – Stephen Mitchell
The End of Antiquity in the Lykos Valley: Setting a New Agenda (Lykos Vadisi’nde Antik Çağ’ın Sonu: Yeni bur Düşünce) – Mark Whittow
Roads and Routes in Western Phrygia in Late Antiquity (Geç Antike Çağ’da Batı Frigya İçindeki Yollar ve Rotalar) – Andreas Külzer
Geç Antik Çağ’da Lykis Vadisi ve Çevresi (Lykos Valley in Late Antiquity) – Mustafa Hamdi Sayar
Earthquakes and Late Antique Urbanism: Some Observations on the Case of the Lykos Valley (Depremler ve Geç Antik Kentleşme: Lykos Vadisi Örneği Üzerine Bazı Gözlemler) – Troels Myrup Kristensen

II. Laodikeia
Geç Antik Çağ’da Laodikeia (Laodikeia in Late Antiquity) – Celal Şimşek
Laodikeia’da Hıristiyanlık ve Kiliseler (Christianity and Churches in Laodikeia) – Fahriye Bayram
Persecution, Martyrdom, and Hagiography in Laodikeia Presentation (Laodikeia’da Takibat, Şehadet ve Azis Hikâyeleri) – Ulrich Huttner
Laodikeia Kilisesi’nde Uygulanen Restorasyon Yöntemleri: Temel Prensipler ve Uygulama Sınırları (Restoration Methods Applied in the Laodikeia Church: Fundamental Principles and Application Limits) – Çağrı Murat Tarhan
Laodikeia Geç Antike Çağ Seramikleri (Late Antique Pottery of Laodikeia) - Celal Şimşek and Mustafa Bilgin
The Inscriptions of Temple A from Laodikeia. New Evidence from the Age of Diocletian to the Age of Constantine (Laodikeia’dan Tapınak A Yazıtları. Diocletianus’tan Constantine Yeni Bulgular – Francesco Giuzzi
Ampullae with Figural Depictions from Laodikeia of Late Antiquity (Geç Antik Çağ Laodikeiasi’ndan Figürlü Ampullalar) - Celal Şimşek and Barış Yener

III. Hierapolis
Geç Antik Çağ ve Erkan Bizans Dönemi’nde Phrygia Hierapolis’I (Late Antiquity and Early Christianity Periods in Hierapolis at Phrygia) – Francesco D’Andria
Councillors, Heretics, and Archbishops in Late Antique Hierapolis: Recent Epigraphical Findings Concerning the City, its Territory, and the History of Hierapolis’ Bishopric (4th-9th Cent.) (Geç Antik Hierapolis’te Konsey Üyeleri, Sapkınlar ve Başpiskoposlar: Hierapolis Kenti, Territoriumu ve Piskoposluk Tarihi ile ilgili Son Epigraphik Bulgular (IV – IX Yüzyıllar) – Alister Filippini
Divine Liturgy and Human Skills in the Architectural Sculpture from the Church of the Apostle in Hierapolis (Phrygia) (Hierapolis Aziz Philip Kilisesi’nden Mimari Heykeltıraşlıkta İnsan Yeteneği ve Dinsel Seramoni) – Manuele De Giorgi
Mosaic and Opus Sectile Pavements in the Church of St. Philip in Hierapolis (Aziz Philip Kilisesi’nden Opus Sectile ve Mozaik Döşemeler) – Maria Piera Caggia
The Ploutonion of Hierapolis in Phrygia in the Late Ancient and Proto-Byzantine Period (Geç Antik Çağ ve Erkan Bizans Dönemi’nde Frigya Hierapolis’i Ploutonion’u) – Pio Panarelli

IV. Güneybatı Anadolu Kentleri (The Cities of South Western Anatolia)
Geç Antik Çağ’da Lydia Tripolis’I (MS 4. YY’dan Sasani Tahribatı’na Kadar) (Lydian Tropolis during Late Antiquity (from the fourth century to the Sassanian destruction)
Geç Antik Çağ’de Tralleis (Tralleis in Late Ancient Period) – Aslı Saraçoğlu
Some Remarks on Late Antique and Early Christian Ephesus (Geç Antik ve Erken Hıristiyanlık Dönemi Ephesis Üzerine Bazı Notlar) – Andreas Pülz
Efes ve Magnesia Bizans Surlarının Yeniden Değerlendirilmesi (Dating of the Byzantine City Walls of Ephesus and Magnesia on the Maeander Reconsidered) – Mustafa Büyükkolancı
Geç Antik Çağ’da Stratonikeia (Stratonikeia in Late Antiquity) – Bilal Söğüt

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