Rhodiapolis

Location: 

GPS coordinates: 36.386944, 30.265556
Rhodiapolis
Rhodiapolis

Historical overview: 

The ancient site of Rhodiapolis lies near the modern town of Kumluca. Rhodiapolis received its name from the Rhodians that colonised it. We learn of its name from Hekataios. Theopompos claimed it was named after Rhodos, the daughter of Mopsos. However, its name in Lycian is thought to have been Wedrei (Wedrennehi/Wedrenni). The name Wedrei is found together with that of Trbennimi on the Dynastic period coins of Lycia. This suggests that there existed a settlement here prior to the Rhodian colonisation.

The best known figure from the city is Opramoas and his best known work is his monumental tomb on the foot of the theatre. He lived in the period of Antoninus Pius (138-161); was the richest man in Lycia and the most renowned philanthropist (Euergetes). His mother was from Korydalla and his father was from Rhodiapolis. He had very rich and famous relatives all over Lycia such as C. Julius Demosthenes of Oinoanda and the Lyciarch Licinnius Longus. His ancestors had attained high positions like Lyciarchia (President of the Lycian League), Strategia (Military Commander) and Hipparchia (Commander of the Cavalry). His brother Apollonios was the chief priest of the imperial cult, scribe of the Lycian League and Lyciarch. He was honoured many times.

Almost all Lycian cities received some form of help from Opramoas, who was active from 114 through to 152/153 and in particular the many monuments devastated in the earthquake of 141 were restored through his help. He contributed with amounts varying from 3000 to 100.000 dinars. The highest support went to Myra with 100,000 dinars and to Tlos with 80,000 dinars. Apart from the contribution made to the cities, he also supported the people in social areas such as shroud money for the living, providing dowries for young girls and food for the poor. In addition to this list of donations and honourings, 12 inscriptions containing his exchange of letters with Roman Caesars, 19 Procurator letters and other 33 documents related to the Lycian League are recorded on the walls of his monumental tomb. These letters, especially those exchanged with Antoninus Pius suggest Opramoas was also the Lyciarch. The long inscription embellishing the walls of the monument located to the southwest of the theatre is the longest inscription in Lycia, and perhaps in all Anatolia. The monument’s surroundings were cleaned in 2006 and at this moment the tomb is entirely in reconstruction.

Archaeological research: 

The city was first visited by T. A. B. Spratt in 1842. The interest in the city started in 1892s arising from the inscriptions on the Opramoas tomb and it retained its importance since then, becoming a focus of scientific publications.

Tituli Asiae Minoris II.3 by E. Kalinka published in 1944 also contained inscriptions from Rhodiapolis beside those from Arneai, Arykanda, Idebessos, Akaliassos, Olympos and Phaselis. The first visual documentation and detailed investigations of the Opramoas inscriptions were completed by E. Krickl and his team that visited the site in 1894.

In recent years, the epigraphic surveys conducted by B. İplikçioğlu revealed the presence of inscriptions that escaped the eyes of the previous scholars. C. Kokkinia published detailed work on the Opramoas inscriptions in 2000. Following the survey observations of B. Ferraro and H. Y. Özbek on the theatre, A. Farrington on the bathhouse and those of C. Bayburtluoğlu on the settlement, scholars have launched the first extensive project covering the archaeology of the city.

The first campaign of excavations at Rhodiapolis was conducted in 2006 on behalf of the Ministry of Culture and Tourism and Akdeniz University and was supported by DÖSİMM of the Ministry of Culture and Tourism, Akdeniz University, the Kumluca Municipality and AKMED. The first campaign covered the following areas: an overall cleaning of the surface and vegetation in the city; the construction of vehicle roads in the city; infrastructure works; preliminary surveys for identification purposes; topographic work and excavations. The excavations were carried out in the bathhouse, agora/stoa, theatre and street. The excavation work was planned both at the structural level and at the level of organic relations with a total intervention to a group of structures sharing the same environment and conditions. The Roman bathhouse, which stands in isolation, was excavated separately but the excavations at the agora, the Opramoas Stoa and the theatre were planned as individual projects themselves but were planned and were integrated as a wholly related excavation.

Sightseeing: 

The earliest ruins in this city known to have been a member of the Lycian League are the rock cut tombs dating to the Classical period. Most of the visible ruins date from the Roman and Byzantine periods. The most important remains in the city are the theatre, bathhouse, agora/stoa, sebasteion, temples, church, cisterns, cenotaph, necropolises and houses.

Visitor tips: 

The visit of Rhodiapolis is free. Restaurants and accommodation are in Kumluca.

Getting there: 

The ancient site of Rhodiapolis lies about 7 km. from the town center of the modern town of Kumluca, is very well signposted and very good reachable via a recent modern road who leads directly to the site. There one can follow a good footpath to the archaeological remains on the hill. The most buildings are from the Roman and Byzantine periods. First one can reach the huge lower city bastions, remains of city walls and further on the left the bathhouses and huge water cisterns. To the right one can reach the partially reconstructed theatre via a beautiful preserved flight of steps along a great wall. There you see also the Opramoas Stoa in reconstruction. On the top of the hill lies the acropolis with some remains of huge bastions and the upper city walls.

Image gallery: 

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