Aspendos, Love and Conglomerate

Aspendos is always referred to by its theater. The story associated with its construction – how much we do not know correctly – strengthens this perception. But it would be unfair to Aspendos to be limited to the theater.

Aspendos is actually a highly developed city of Pamphilia. It is a city in the series of cities, which are competing with each other and are mainly Termessos, Perge, Sillyon, Side, Selge. Located near Köprüçay – Antique Eurymedon – one of the largest rivers in the region, the city used this river for its daily and agricultural activities as well as a waterway to the Mediterranean Sea. Thus, it was able to be both at a safe distance from the sea and to trade in sea. Sea was very important in the ancient world. The most important advantage was undoubtedly the ease of trade by sea. However, being very close to the sea made the cities especially vulnerable to the sudden attacks of pirates or enemy fleets. 

3 of the cities of Pamphilia. They couldn’t get into the picture, but there’s Termessos on the left and Side, Sillyon and Selge on the right.

40 km from Antalya. east and 16 km from the sea. According to the Greek tradition of the ancient city inside, it was rumored that it was founded by the colonists of Argos led by Mopsos in 1,000 BC. Archaeologists have found remains dating back to around 800 BC and the Hittites. But before the Greeks came, there was probably a local, resident population in Aspendos. With the arrival of the Greeks, the settlement must have developed and acquired a city character. From coins we learned that Aspendos was known as “Estwediya larda in the 5th and 4th centuries BC. This naming is associated with King Asitawada mentioned in the Hittite hieroglyphic inscriptions in Karatepe, near Adana (web1).

The most important sources of income of the city in the ancient period are imported salt, olive oil and wool. In addition, horses raised in this city are said to be very famous in ancient times. Before visiting the city, let us tell the story that inspired the title of the article. The king of the city of Aspendos (the spin begins here. What king in the 2nd century AD?) Or his ruler, whatever it is, had a daughter who was a legendary beauty. Naturally, she’s a lot of suitor. To marry the king’s daughter, to choose the most appropriate among the suitors, he said, “Whoever does the most useful work to our city and our people, I will give my daughter to him. Sonra After this challenge, there must have been a lot of suitor, but perhaps the most ambitious or perhaps the finals. Some people claim that these two people are twins.

One of the twins brought drinking water to the city by building canals and aqueducts from distant sources. At that time, the biggest need of cities was undoubtedly clean water. Clean water was of great importance for both drinking and agriculture, but perhaps more importantly for hygiene. One of the most feared at that time was epidemic diseases, especially plague. When you think like this, the importance of aqueducts is immediately understood. 

Second place in the competition, the aqueducts…

The king, “the man brought water to the city brother, what more can you do, ” he was about to give his daughter to this young man, let’s look at the other brother’s theater for the city so that it is not a shame. The theater built by the architect Zenon is also very impressive. But just as the king decided to give the girl to the architect of the aqueducts, Zenon on the stage as he wandered the area with the top vaults, almost sighing whispering, “Oh, I wish the king would give me his daughter.” Despite the distance, the King clearly heard this sigh and changed his mind, seeing that the theater had a great acoustics. Rather, he decided that the two works were of extraordinary quality and concluded: divide the girl in half and give both architects a half. 

Yes, it is a ridiculous proposal as much as possible, but it leads to such a situation; Zenon does not accept this proposal and says that she will accept her opponent’s marriage rather than divide the girl in two. The king, who agreed to marry his opponent rather than the death of his daughter Zenon’un convinced that the daughter really loved and decided to marry him. So in one piece.

Of course there are a lot of questions in this fairy tale. As a historian, I put aside its accuracy and error, eh said, this is a fairy tale. In fact, there are also timbre reminders of 1001 night tales. I feel like we’il find a very similar tale there. Anyway, what’s on my mind, what does the architect who made the aqueduct say? He has no say. I don’t think he said, “Okay, give me the exact half.” And the more difficult question is, “ are you mine or the land of the earth bir shows greater love or sen if you don’t love like love, love me like a brother tır is a greater love?

Difficult question. Of course, no one should kill anyone that separate, in love with someone else at the bottom of your nose to live a happy life with someone else can you consent? Or vice versa, what can you do for the sake of your love? As the answer to this question comes the most supreme things to everyone. Can you do the meanest, mean things? Do you glorify yourself or degrade your evidence, in fact your love? I think there was a sub-theme in the film Ashkiya. Where are we? These are grueling subjects, let’s visit the beautiful Aspendos again. Incidentally, the ancient theater and aqueducts of Aspendos were added to the UNESCO World Heritage Temporary List in 2015. I do not know whether UNESCO took the two works together considering the story of the king’s daughter.

Aspendos city plan and sightseeing route. (I did not note the source, I will add when I find)

Today we start to visit the city from the parking lot in front of the magnificent ancient theater. Surely this was not the case in time. We entered the city after passing through the necropolis, the cemeteries, being thoroughly interrogated at one of the gates of the walls, and probably washed in a nearby bath. But today we are far from these experiences. Our trip starts with theater.

Aspendos aerial photo. Theater in front, right to the stadium and above the agora.

Aspendos theater is one of the biggest theaters in Anatolia. However, as well as the size of the day to remain in good condition increases its impressiveness. Like the Perge theater in the immediate vicinity, this theater seems to withstand the time better than the theaters in the Aegean. I shared my historical and geographical thoughts about the conservation status of the Aegean-Mediterranean cities in another article, I think, in Perge. The reason for this can be summarized as less earthquakes and being built with better technology. Some sources claim that this theater is the best Roman theater out of Italy.

Images from the theater. From the vaulted paradise on the left to the orchestra, the orchestra and stage in the middle, the cavea on the right, the rows of seats and the auditorium above it.

Theater of 15.000-20.000 people, the son of Theodoros architect Zenon by MS. It was built around 155 in the reign of Emperor Marcus Aurelius (known as the philosopher emperor). It is understood that the theater was built by two rich brothers from the Greek and Latin inscriptions Curtius Crispinus and Curtius Auspicatus. Of course, I don’t know what will happen to our fairy tale in this case . These passages open to the orchestra area and the stairs lead to the seating areas.

The stage building is quite majestic. If you imagine the stage that reaches to the height of the cavea with its original marble cladding, sculptures and reliefs, you realize that you are facing a great structure.

The original state of the stage building (web4).

The cavea of ​​the theater, in other words the seating area, is divided into two diagrams in a transverse way (diazoma) with 20 rows above and 21 rows below. At the top of the vault covered, the cavea surrounds and terminates a promenade, the auditorium is located. It is also known that the top of the cavea was partially covered by a system built with wooden posts, ropes and cloths.

Theater plan (web4)

While the theater was recently restored, some of the seats in the cavea were renewed and new marbles were on the agenda. However, the restoration team’s description, the ancient marble used in the ancient quarry and the new quarries were found in the material close to these new quarries, the old marbles are exposed to the millennium due to the climate conditions change color and new marble will change color over time, albeit slowly was. Frankly, it didn’t seem unreasonable to me. The principles of restoration are as follows: “ The material to be used should be noticeable when looked closely, but unobtrusive when viewed from a distance.

”This issue is still open to debate, although I personally think that a slightly darker marble would be better, but I cannot say that these marbles are very scratching. And 2,000 years is what goes in the blink of an eye. But of course what happens to the original marbles placed 2,000 years later 4,000 years ago… Haydaaa. This somewhat turned into the paradox of Parmenides, mi Can Achilles catch the turtle?… The theater, which was built during the Roman period, was restored in many periods and even used for other functions. The restorations during the Seljuk period, the addition of a monumental door to the exterior and dark plaster. During this period, the stage structure was transformed into a caravanserai.

A drawing by Charles Texier of the theater in the 19th century (Texier, 1865).

Atatürk visited the theater in the year 09. March 1930 and gave instructions to use repaired again: ” It was months of estimated March 1930, Ataturk together a Antalya on our trip, our way during our trip in the near fell to Aspendos Antique Theater. Ataturk very much liked this kind of historical artifacts and they wanted to be restored and taken care of very well. “These are our history, we have to keep them alive, the next generation should see them and boast with these works”.

As a matter of fact, when he was visiting Aspendos, he called the people concerned and told them that esk there used to be theaters here, there were fights in the Arenas in places like Perge. Our historic main sport is not wrestling. Be sure to organize international wrestling around here, local and foreign guests come, watch. Let Aspendos live, otherwise weeds will end here, the stones will be removed, and this dear historical monument will end emir. If I remember correctly, it was 1930 and they would print Atatürk’s words and put them on the door of Aspendos. Hanged? Not hanged? I don’t know, but I remember that wrestling competitions, or even the grand oil wrestling, were held here from time to time for many years.

Source: Memories of Nuri Ulusu, the librarian of the Çankaya Presidential Residence, near Atatürk. Edited by Mustafa Kemal Ulusu, Doğan Kitap, October 2008. ISBN: 978-975-991-954-2. Page: 206“The above quote and the images below are from (web2).

As a statesman who possesses these thoughts and enjoys seeing historical monuments in his time, Atatürk has demonstrated his exceptional and fascinating personality in this area. . The acceptance of not only Turkish-Islamic works but all civilizations in Anatolia as a legacy is a level of maturity and understanding that many statesmen still cannot reach today. You can find detailed measurements and information on theater from web3 and web4. Stadium

The regions that host the city’s buildings other than the theater are on the hill where the theater leans. We reach this area with an uphill from the right of the theater. You will see the stadium on the right before you leave the agora. The stadium was built in the 2nd century AD. The U-shaped structure is 220 meters long, 30 meters wide and is estimated to have about 8,000 people (web5).


gives the Aspendos Agora its character, conglomerate, a different kind of stone. These rocks, which are formed as a result of the adherence of spherical stones, which have lost their hard edges from rolling, with the effect of high pressure and other elements under the influence of cement and sand pieces, are the main materials of the structures in the Agora. 

Although all the buildings today seem to be conglomerated, it is important to remember that almost all of these walls were covered with marble or at least plastered during Roman times. And if this stone is exposed in time, especially to be exposed to climatic conditions, the gradual separation of sand and binders between the stones. For this reason, after a while, the round stones forming the main mass can begin to fall and the stone crumbles. Of course, this situation leads to serious structural problems for the structure.

Conglomerate stone.

Agora, which is the city center of antiquity, where almost every structure is built of conglomerate, includes a basilica, monumental fountain, auditorium or bouleiterion, a section called shops, a structure called exedra and a Hellenistic temple.


The Basilica is a very large example of the basilica in Aspendos, which is the place where many commercial, political, judicial, educational and similar functions can be housed. The east of the agora exceeds 100 meters. In order to cover the roof of the building, which has a considerable width, 2 rows of columns make the interior 3 longitudinal corridors, 3 naves. The structure at the end of the basilica, which is in top condition today, is thought to be a monumental entrance hall or Curia, where the assembly is held.


Shops The
group of shops or stores was probably the surviving parts of a stoa-like structure. 12 of these shops on the west side of the Agora have survived. The holes in the walls look like the holes of wooden beams. Therefore, these stores were probably wood-structured and 2-storey. It is likely to have a porch as in the stoas in front of the stores.


Nymphaeums, ie monumental fountains are among the most important structures of the ancient world. These are functional as well as urban aesthetics with the contribution of recreation, and the symbolic aspects of the devotee to increase the glory of the person. They are usually composed of a pool in front of them, a composition rising like a facade adorned with statues and flowing the water coming from the waterways behind to the pool with various arrangements. The best restored Nymphaeums today are in Sagalassos, which still has a flow of water and a pool.

As Nymphaeum in Aspendos lost its marbles like other buildings, it carries only the quantitative aspect of its splendor today. We can sense the size of the conglomerate body of 32 meters by 15 meters (web5) and clues about its elaborate design from the niches. Nymphaeum, Aspendos lived during the most prosperous years, ie AD II – III. Built in centuries.    

Odeon or Bouleterion
Another structure in the agora is defined by its curvilinear form as the odeon or Bouleterion. Odeons can be described as small and implicit versions of theaters. Although they were usually gathered for music concerts, they could have been the scene of meetings for other purposes. Bouleterions are the city councils where the boule is convened. Since there are no clues that allow us to make this distinction today, sources probably do not define this structure. The structure is 38.50 meters wide and 30 meters long. The structure, which is thought to be covered with a wooden roof structure from the beam slots on the walls, is dated to the end of the 1st century AD and to the 2nd – 3rd centuries AD in some sources.  

Hellenistic Temple 
This was one of the buildings that I liked most in My Agora. But unfortunately I never took a picture of it. Next trip. Or send me if anyone pulls, please. 
The information I found about this structure is as follows (web5). It measures 24 meters to 13 meters and is a peripteros type of temple. It is built in Doric order with 11 columns on long sides and 6 columns on short sides. It is not known which god or goddess the building is dedicated to. I also remember that there was a well in the temenos, the sacred garden.

Finally, I will end up with a few coins of Aspendos (web6):

Two friends wrestling in this coin dated around 480 BC were chosen as symbols of the city. 
It was an interesting coincidence that Atatürk proposed wrestling competitions in the theater.
This coin, dated to 300-200 BC, depicts Athena with a helmet on one side and a warrior 
firing with a slingshot like the other. 


Charles Texier, The principal ruins of Asia Minor, 1865

web1: Web2: / 1 web3:

web4 : web5:


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