Olba-Diocaesarea

Olba, later Diocaesarea, is an ancient Seleucid city in Rough Cilicia in Turkey’s rugged Eastern Mediterranean coastline. In the Hellenistic period, the city was the centre of worship of Zeus Olbios whose sanctuary was located about 4 km to the west. Erected during the reign of the Seleucids, the temple, Corinthian in style, is the oldest peripteral temple (6×12 columns) in Asia Minor. Other monuments from the Hellenistic period include a 22m-high tower and a mausoleum. The Roman city of Diocaesarea later developed in the 1st century AD around the temple devoted to Zeus Olbios and its ruins today lie partly within the grounds of the village of Uzuncaburç (Turkish for high tower and referring to the Hellenistic tower) and its immediate surroundings.

The most important Roman buildings on the site date from the 1st to the 3rd century AD and include a theatre, a nymphaeum, an aqueduct, and many tombs dug in the rock. The city is entered through a monumental gate, of which five columns have survived. Then a colonnaded street runs alongside the temple of Zeus Olbios and leads to the temple of Tyche. To the north-west, a three-arched Roman gate leads out of town.

Coordinates: 36°35’12.1″N 33°58’06.7″E

PORTFOLIO

  • Diocaesarea
The monumental entrance gate to the city of Diocaesarea was erected at the end of the 1st century AD. It originally had five entrances
The Temple of Zeus Olbios was erected during the reign of the Seleucids. The monument is peripteral and Corinthian in style.
The Hellenistic Temple of Zeus Olbios.
The Temple of Zeus Olbios was converted into a basilica during the Byzantine era. The cella was removed and an apse was added at the eastern end.
When the temple was converted into a church, the column were shaved at the sides and walls were built between them.
An architectural block with a boar and a lion that decorated the Temple of Zeus Olbios.
Architectural block from the Temple of Zeus Olbios.
The two-storied Hellenistic mausoleum with a pyramidal roof.

View of Diocaesarea from the Hellenistic mausoleum. The temple of Zeus Olbios is on the left, in the middle is the Roman theatre and on the right stands the 22m-high Hellenistic tower.
A limestone sarcophagus beautifully decorated with garlands of vine tendrils and flowers suspended from two ox heads in the middle, and from two horned ram heads on each side; over the garlands are three sculpted heads of Medusa.
The Corinthian colonnade of the Temple of Tyche, built in the 1st century AD by Oppius and his wife Kyria.
The cella (inner cult room) of the Temple of Tyche.
The inscription on the architrave states: “Oppius, the son of Obrimus, and Kyria, the daughter of Leonidus and the wife of Oppius, gave the Tychaeum to the city.”
A sarcophagus lid.
The Roman Nymphaeum, built in the 2nd or 3rd century AD. The structure, 17m long and about 11m wide, stood along the colonnaded street. The water was brought from the Lamus River by using channels and tunnels.
The northern city gate was built in the 2nd century AD and completely restored during the reigns of Arcadius and Honorius (5th century AD).
An abandoned house built among the ruins of the ancient city.
The Roman theatre was constructed during the joint reign of the emperors Marcus Aurelius and Lucius Verus.
The theatre had a capacity of around 2000 spectators.
  • Olba
The acropolis hill of Olba with fortification towers.
The double tier aqueduct of Olba, commissioned by Septimius Severus in AD 199, was built across the valley of Olba and linked the two hillsides. It is about 150 m long and 25 m high.
The aqueduct underwent repairs during the reign of Byzantine Emperor Justin II in AD 566.
The nymphaeum standing at the western foot of the acropolis. It was fed by the Limus River whose water was brought through tunnels, channels and the aqueduct.
The Roman theatre.
The stage building of the Roman theatre.

Source: Silifke (Seleucia on Calycadnus ) and Environs: Lost Cities of a Distant Past in Cilicia by Celal Taşkıran (Sim Matbaasi, 1993)

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Sepphoris/Diocaesarea

Sepphoris, also known as Diocaesarea, lies 289 metres above sea level on a hill in the heart of the Galilee province, about 5 kilometres west of Nazareth. Its history can be traced back to the Persian period (ca. 539-332 BC) but the city started to grow during the Hellenistic period. Herod the Great built a royal palace here and, after his death in 4 BC, his son Herod Antipas made Sepphoris the capital of his government. The city may have derived its name from the word tzippori, a variant of the Hebrew word for bird; tsippor. A passage in the Talmud seems to confirm this theory as the city is described as being “perched on the top of a mountain, like a bird”.

Coordinates: 32° 45′ 10.4″ N, 35° 16′ 46.2″ E

Josephus, the first-century Romano-Jewish historian, said that Sepphoris was the largest city in Galilee and stood as an exceptional strong fortress at the time of the First Jewish Revolt in AD 66. Sepphoris was one of the cities that remained loyal to Rome. It refused to take part in the revolt and was spared destruction. After the suppression of the revolt in AD 70, the city was transformed from a Galilean town into a Roman polis boasting governmental institutions and public buildings. Sepphoris even minted coins bearing the legend Eirenopolis “City of Peace” in honour of Vespasian.

Sepphoris reached its peak of 15,000-20,000 inhabitants by the 2nd century AD. Over the years, public and private dwellings embellished with colourful mosaics sprung up throughout the Roman city, including a temple, a forum, bathhouses, a theatre and a large water reservoir. Hadrian changed Sepphoris’ name to Diocaesarea (city of Zeus and Caesar) probably in AD 120 and built a new road leading from Caparcotna and its military base of Legio to Diocaesarea (as recorded on milestones dated to AD 120 and 130).

In the following years, Diocaesarea continued to prosper while the city’s population included pagans and Christians living alongside the Jewish population. A number of churches were built in the Byzantine period and a total of 18 synagogues were referred by Talmudic sources (although only one synagogue, built at the beginning of the 5th century AD, has so far been discovered).

Diocaesarea retained its urban plan throughout late antiquity and continued to flourish until the decline in the Early Arab period in the 7th century AD. In Crusader times, sections of the city and the fortress were rebuilt. The city was renamed “Le Sephorie”, preserving its ancient name.

Sepphoris was first excavated in 1931 by Leroy Waterman of the University of Michigan and major excavations were conducted during 1983-2003. Today the ancient site is a National park (Zippori National Park) and, even in ruins, a highly recommended archaeological site.

PORTFOLIO

View of the Cardo marked with ruts made by carriage wheels, it was the main road of the city which runs north to south.
View of the Cardo marked with ruts made by carriage wheels. It was the main road to the city which runs north to south.
View of the Cardo with porticoes along both sides that were adorned with geometrical mosaics.
The Forum, a large public building constructed in the Severan era (ca. 200 AD), it containeda peristyle courtyard surrounded by rooms adorned with colourful mosaics.
The Forum was a large public building constructed in the Severan era (ca. AD 200). It contained a peristyle courtyard surrounded by rooms adorned with colourful mosaics.

The Forum, a large public building constructed in the Severan era (ca. 200 AD), it contained a peristyle courtyard surrounded by rooms adorned with colourful mosaics.
The floor of the large hall of the Forum was decorated with an overall geometric pattern of interlocking circles forming curvilinear squares, with a partially preserved square panel near the centre of the pavement. The entire mosaic exhibits a variety of motifs, such as birds, fish, a shallow basket full of fruits, a hare nibbling grapes as well as flowers and pomegranates.
The Nile Festival House located on the south side of the city and east to the Cardo, it was built in the 5th century AD and the entire building is paved with mosaics.
The Nile Festival House located on the south side of the city and east to the Cardo was built in the 5th century AD and the entire building was paved with mosaics.
The Nile Mosaic representing the celebration of the Nile, it is composed of a number of scenes, each of which depicting a different event, 5th century AD.
The Nile Mosaic representing the celebration of the Nile is dated to the 5th century AD. It is composed of a number of scenes, each depicting a different event.
Mosaic pavement depicting hunting Amazons in the Nile Festival House, early 5th century AD.
Early 5th century AD mosaic pavement in the Nile Festival House depicting hunting Amazons.
A rearing centaur draped in an animal-skin cloak and holding a bowl in his hands.
Mosaic pavement depicting a Centaur draped in an animal-skin cloak and holding a shield or a dish with the Greek inscription “Helpful God”.
Geometric mosaic in the Nile Festival House.
Geometric mosaic in the Nile Festival House.
Geometric mosaic in the Nile Festival House.
Geometric mosaic in the Nile Festival House.
Mosaic pavement depicting a hunter holding a spear in the Nile Festival House, early 5th century AD.
Early 5th century AD mosaic pavement depicting a hunter holding a spear in the Nile Festival House.
View of the Cardo.
View of the Cardo.
T-shaped mosaic in the triclinium of The House of Orpheus containing four panels arranged for viewing from the south.
T-shaped mosaic in the triclinium of The House of Orpheus containing four colourful panels. The larger panel depicts Orpheus the divine musician whereas the three others depict scenes from daily life – a banquet, two men embracing, and two rolling dice.
The Roman Theatre built on the northen slope of the hill in the early 2nd century AD, it could seat 4,500 spectators.
The Roman Theatre was built in the early 2nd century AD on the northern slope of the hill. It could seat 4,500 spectators.
The stage building of the Roman Theatre and the stage itself are almost completely destroyed, yet its foundations remain.
The stage building of the Roman Theatre and the stage itself are almost completely destroyed, yet its foundations remain.
View over the Theatre built on the northen slope of the hill in the early 2nd century AD.
View over the Theatre built on the northern slope of the hill in the early 2nd century AD.
Dionysus Mosaic depicting scenes from the life of Dionysus and his cult, around 200 AD.
Dionysus Mosaic depicting scenes from the life of Dionysus and his cult, around AD 200.
The
The “Mona Lisa of the Galilee” (possibly Venus). Detail of the mosaic in the House of Dionysos depicting scenes from the life of Dionysos and his cult.
Residential houses around the Crusaders fortress, these are dwellings from the Hellenistic to Byzantine periods.
Residential houses around the Crusaders fortress. These are dwellings from the Hellenistic to Byzantine periods.
The subterranean water reservoir constructed in the 1st century AD, water entered the reservoir via a channel and lead pipe through wich the water flowed into a tunnel having six vertical shafts.
The subterranean water reservoir constructed in the 1st century AD. Water entered the reservoir via a channel and lead pipe through which the water flowed into a tunnel having six vertical shafts.
View of the Decumanus which functioned as the main artery by which one entered the city from the east.
View of the Decumanus which functioned as the main artery by which one entered the city from the east.

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