Sunday, August 3, 2014

Lycian – Ancient People in Today’s Turkey

The Lycians were ancient people who lived in area which today’s Turkey between the bays of Antalya and Fethiye and is a compact mountainous territory. Ancient Greek admired the Lycians for finding solutions to problem which perplexed the ancient world on how to reconcile free government in the city-state with larger political unity.

They had a deep desire for freedom and independence and this was seen in their sense of federation and unity. When Greek city-states were at war with each other, the Lycian cities were at peace among themselves. They were an important section of the Greek and Near Eastern worlds.

They lived at a point where two cultures got together at an important strategic juncture and came under the twin influence of their neighbours which resulted in the development of a different style of art.

Lycia occupied most of the Teke Peninsula towards the southwest corner of Antolia and is defined as the area of Turkey towards the south of a line drawn from Dalyan to Antalya where nature is lush. It has dense forest and the landscape is mountainous.

Built Amazing Monumental Tombs

The pre-Greek people of Anatolia had built amazing monumental tombs which were associated with some kind of ancestor worship and developed this art to perfection. Their quality of stone masonry is excellent especially significant in the construction of tombs.

Presently one will find the entire landscape is still lined with these fascinating tomb monuments and the most recent ones have been revealed around one thousand and eighty five example which are still intact, rock cut tombs in common form.

Lycia is popular for its great number of tombs and its quality. Six tombs of Lycia on the outskirt of Kaunos are the most picturesque area in the region wherein on standing in the cliff face above the Dalyan River, they can be spotted from miles away and are the finest display of architecture.

Rock Tombs – Burial Chambers for Kings/Queens

Between the 2nd to the 4th century, rock tombs were the burial chambers for kings and queens during that period and behind tall columns which stood near the entrance was the main chamber where the royal were buried along with their possessions.

But sadly over a period of time, all these treasures which were buried along with the royals got stolen which were meant to accompany the death in their afterlife. The Lycians were of the belief that winged creature would carry them to the other world after their death and hence most of their tombs were on high cliff faces or hills.

The high position as well as the lack of safety made it difficult to walk around the tombs, though they still tend to look majestic from a distance. Circular shaped altars which were decorated with inscription or ornamentation were at times placed near the tombs which were used for sacrificial offerings for the deceased.

Moreover, the tombs were also found with bottles of tear collection, terra-cotta statuettes and were buried with their jewellery. Besides this, coins were also placed in the mouth of the dead for payment to Charon.

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