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Reviews of Pisidian Antioch, by Stephen Mitchell and Marc Waelkens

Review 1.
Bryn Mawr Classical Review, 10.07.1999
Review by C. Brian Rose, University of Cincinnati

Pisidian Antioch has attracted the attention of historians and archaeologists since the early nineteenth century. A copy of the Res Gestae was found here, and the town contained a well-preserved sanctuary of the cult of Men as well as one of the largest early Christian basilicas in Asia Minor. Articles on various aspects of the site have appeared sporadically during the twentieth century, but there had never been a comprehensive investigation of the city's topography and extant buildings. Stephen Mitchell and Marc Waelkens have attempted to remedy this gap in scholarship with this copiously illustrated guide to the site. The material in the book is largely drawn from the authors' site survey in 1983 and 1984, but they have supplemented their investigation with a wealth of archival material which is summarized in an appendix.

The first two chapters deal with the geography and history of the site as well as earlier attempts at excavation and survey. These are followed by chapters on the Sanctuary of Men, the theater and city plan (including walls, gates, and streets), the Imperial cult complex, the water systems (aqueduct, nymphaeum, and bath), and three early Christian churches. An appendix surveys the epigraphic and numismatic evidence for the civic and religious buildings at Antioch, most of which have been partly excavated.

The site is bordered by the mountains of the Sultan Daglar at the north and east, which resulted in a closer interaction with the cities at the south and west. Antioch was founded in the third centuy B.C. as a colony of Magnesia, and there is enough epigraphic and architectural evidence to indicate that the relationship between the two cities continued throughout the Hellenistic period. Funds for construction may also have been supplied by the Attalid kings as part of an effort to hellenize the area.

A Roman colony was established here in 25 B.C., with the settlers consisting primarily of veterans from northern and central Italy. As at other cities and colonies in Asia Minor, Antioch experienced a building boom during the Augustan and Julio-Claudian periods. Fewer buildings can be dated to the Flavian, Antonine, and Severan periods, during which Ancyra became more prominent, but Diocletian made Antioch the capital of the new province of Pisidia and this resulted in the enlargement of the theater and the building of a new porticoed agora next to it.

The site began to be explored and published in the first half of the nineteenth century, largely due to the fact that Paul had preached here; but excavation did not begin until the early twentieth century, with a team that included W. M. Ramsay, F. W. Kelsey of the University of Michigan, and D. M. Robinson of Johns Hopkins. Their work lasted only a short time, from 1924 to 1927, and during the subsequent sixty years the site was used as a stone quarry by the residents of the nearby town of Yalvac. Excavation resumed in 1991 and has been conducted annually since then by Mehmet Taslalan, Director of the Yalvac Museum.

The most prominent religious complex in Antioch was the extra-mural Sanctuary of Men Askaenos, which appears to have been in operation from the second century B.C. through the third century A.D. The Sanctuary consists of a rectangular temenos enclosure that frames a hexastyle Ionic peripteral temple. In the vicinity were a second temple, approximately one-half the size of the first, a stadium, and a series of small buildings. The authors compare the design of the two temples with those of Artemis Leukophryene and Zeus Sozopolis at Magnesia and suggest that some of the small buildings were intended for cult meals or banquets. Games in honor of Men took place in the small stadium, and statues of the victors stood within the temenos. Stone aediculae carved with the symbols of Men decorated the exterior and interior of the precinct, although many were defaced or destroyed during the early Christian period. The large tracts of land that belonged to the Sanctuary were probably divided and distributed to the colonists during the Augustan period.

The large sanctuary on the eastern side of the city is not well-preserved, and it has been assigned at various times to Men, Cybele, Jupiter, and Augustus. A Corinthian podium temple was framed by a semicircular two-storeyed portico (Doric below, Ionic above), while the porticoed square in front of the temple was entered through a triple-arched propylon. The temple apparently contained no dedicatory inscription, but the dedication of the propylon occurred in 211 B.C., and it was here that the Res Gestae were exhibited. The gate featured an elaborate sculptural program that would have complemented the statements in the Res Gestae: reliefs referred to Augustus, his conquests on land and sea, and the peaceful and prosperous conditions that resulted from those conquests. The authors argue persuasively that the complex was dedicated to the Imperial cult, and they propose that its form and decoration were at least partly influenced by the Forum of Augustus in Rome.

The date of construction of the city wall cannot be fixed with certainty, although the western city gate, which had been placed in the Severan period, can now be securely assigned to the reign of Hadrian. It featured the same kind of triumphal iconography as the propylon in the Imperial cult center. The large aqueduct and an associated nymphaeum were probably set up during the early days of the colony, and possibly the theater as well.

The descriptions of the monuments are concise and lucid, and the discussion of the Imperial cult center is especially valuable. The plates and plans are of a high quality, and it is relatively easy to navigate from one section to another. The appearance of this volume is therefore a welcome addition to the Antioch bibliography, and the authors should be congratulated for having presented the material so clearly and comprehensively. What we need now is a synthetic overview of life at Antioch during the Hellenistic and Roman periods. One currently has to turn to Mitchell and Waelkens for the monuments, to Barbara Levick's Roman Colonies in Southern Asia Minor (1967) for the history and inscriptions, to Eugene Lane's Corpus Monumentorum Religionis Dei Menis (1971) for the finds within the Men Sanctuary, and to Mehmet Taslalan's annual reports in the Müze Kurtarma Kazlar Semineri series for the latest discoveries. Some of these sources are difficult to find even in good research libraries, and there are still outstanding questions concerning the switch from Hellenistic town to Roman colony. One wonders to what extent the inauguration of the colony prompted a change in diet and ceramic imports, as well as farming techniques and types of sacrifice. This was a site where duovirs, aediles, and quaestors lived side by side with gymnasiarchs and agonothetes, and it is therefore an ideal place to examine the process of cultural assimilation during the early empire. In the meantime, Mitchell and Waelkens have provided us with a valuable framework for future discussions of Pisidian Antioch. One hopes that questions regarding the society and economy of the site will be answered in part by the continuing excavations of Mehmet Taslalan.

Review 2.
Scholia Reviews ns 9 (2000) 6
Review by Marc Kleijwegt, University of South Africa

The city of Antioch in Pisidia presents a fascinating framework for a study of the interaction between indigenous, Greek, and Roman cultures. Antioch was founded in the third century BC by one of the Seleucid kings, either Antiochus I or II (p. 6), and was settled with people from Magnesia on the Maeander. There is a strong impression that the Attalid kings, nominal rulers of the region since 189 BC (pp. 67f.), undertook an intense campaign of Hellenization. Unfortunately, no Hellenistic inscriptions have been found due to the fact that the Augustan colony has almost completely overlaid earlier remains. Mehmet Tashalan, the energetic director of the museum at Yalvaç, has during recent excavation work discovered part of the Hellenistic street system (p. 99, plate 59). The sanctuary of Mên Askaênos dates back to the second century BC and the authors clearly demonstrate that the model on which the temple was based must be sought in the city from which the Greek settlers originated. The actual remains are Greek in character and provide no architectural evidence for an eastern or Anatolian cult (p. 7). Antioch was refounded as a Roman colony in 25 BC, renamed Colonia Caesarea Antiochia and received a new settlement of Roman veterans drawn from legions V and VII. According to Barbara Levick, Antioch was designed to be a new Rome on the borders of Phrygia and Pisidia.[[1]] This is perfectly illustrated by the fact that the city was divided into seven wards (vici), which took their names from landmarks in Rome's topography (p. 8). Although the new settlers and their descendants dominated the affairs of the city throughout the imperial period, the inscriptions from the site and its territory show a mixed set of Greek and Roman political institutions. Mitchell observes that the city must have remained a complex ethnic mixture (p. 8). There might have existed specific tensions between the various cultural strands, or at least a division into superior and inferior cultural expressions. The testimonies of indigenous cults mostly come from the territory of Antioch (p. 8). Several of the city's features merit attention: the rural sanctuary of the god Mên; the temple dedicated to the imperial cult at the centre of the site; a Latin version of Augustus' Res Gestae, commonly known as the Monumentum Antiochenum; the water-supply (the remaining arches of the aqueduct provide the most powerful visual image from the site). Antioch could boast of a rich intellectual and cultural life which produced sophists, philosophers, and physicians. Moreover, it was in Antioch that the Christians first started to convert pagans (cf. Acts 13.50), and their prestige is adequately demonstrated in the size of the basilica church which was one of the largest in early Christian Asia Minor. The site has received scholarly interest from the nineteenth century onwards, with a clear peak in the first two decades of the twentieth century, but accounts of its history, the study of its economic, religious and cultural life are spread out over a range of publications. Mitchell and Waelkens have produced an accessible survey of the building history of Pisidian Antioch which fully succeeds in its main objective, to place the monuments in their proper historical and cultural contexts. It is not the synthetic history of Antioch that interested scholars have been eagerly awaiting, but it serves as an eminently useful foundation to a further study of the city.

In addition to two successive seasons of archaeological observations in 1982 and 1983, Mitchell and Waelkens have used various other means to collect information on the site. Waelkens traced architectural and other material discovered by the Ramsay excavations of 1912-1914 and the one led by Robinson in 1924 in the museums of Istanbul, Afyon and Konya. They have also made use of unpublished material stored in the archives of the Kelsey Museum at Ann Arbor. By sheer coincidence they came into the possession of the unpublished drawings made by the architect of the Michigan expedition of 1924. For specific parts of the book they have relied on the findings and conclusions of a number of contributors: Jean Öztürk on the churches; Maurice Byrne on the archives and the inscriptions; Jean Burdy and Mehmet Tashalan on the aqueduct. This diversity of sources of information produces a fruitful dialogue between past and present interpretations of the site and results in an enhanced understanding of its building history.

The surface area of the city's territory has been calculated to be 540 square miles, and must have included a substantial number of villages. Mitchell refers to the Turkish census of 1950 which lists about forty villages in the area, with a total population of close to 50,000. He considers it likely, although it is not said on what evidence, that the population level in the Roman imperial period was considerably (my italics) higher than this (p. 3). The population of the city may have expanded very little during the early imperial period, for the city gate, erected in AD 129 and dedicated to Hadrian and Sabina, remained well within the space of the colonial walls (p. 91). No traces of houses have been discovered outside the walls so far, but recently a stadium has been identified in the area near the western city wall (pp. 33, 91); another stadium has been found near the sanctuary of Mên (pp. 37, 72, plate 46). The late antique city experienced considerable refurbishing on a grander scale due to the elevation of the city to the status of metropolis of the newly formed (under Diocletian) province of Pisidia. This led to an increase in building activities which included the enlargement of the theatre which, in truly unique fashion, was built above the existing decumanus maximus, which ran beneath it in a tunnel about 54 metres long (p. 106). The entrance to the tunnel was crowned by a monumental arch of white limestone which was dedicated to the emperors Maximinus, Constantine and Licinius (c. AD 311-313). To the west of the theatre was constructed a large square area surrounded by porticos which may have been a forum or an agora (p. 109; note the uncertainty of the attribution). These activities were obviously intended to provide the city with buildings appropriate to its new rank. The authors conclude from this that the population of the city was greater in the fourth century than at any earlier period of its history. Another clue for this is provided by the large basilica or church of St. Paul (p. 217).

The first chapter, 'Geographical and Historical Introduction' (pp. 1-19), written by Mitchell, sketches the historical and geographical outlines of the city. The chapter competently addresses the main issues, but it is disappointingly brief and only touches upon certain aspects that might have called for more elaborate treatment (for instance the economy of the city and the social and intellectual life). Interested scholars will have to turn to p. 3 for brief observations on the agricultural potential of the city's territory, most of which concern modern Yalvaç. The second chapter, 'The discovery of Antioch: travellers, epigraphers and archaeologists' (pp. 19-37), also by Mitchell, tells the story of the modern discovery of the site. The Michigan expeditions, whose published and unpublished material has proved so fruitful to the authors, are dominated by the personality of William Ramsay. He was a prolific writer on Pisidian Antioch, but, as is demonstrated throughout the pages of this book, not always reliable in his archaeological and historical observations. The photographs made on these occasions and those made by Michael Ballance during a visit in 1962 provide excellent illustrative material throughout. The remaining chapters deal with the main monuments of the site: 'The sanctuary of Mên Askaênos' (pp. 37-90); 'The plan and development of the colony: walls, gates, streets and the theatre' (pp. 91-112); 'The Augustan imperial sanctuary' (pp. 113-73); 'The aqueduct, nymphaeum and bath house' (pp. 175-200); 'Three churches at Antioch' (pp. 201- 19). It is impossible to discuss everything in relation to these monuments in the limited space of a review. In the remainder I shall concentrate on the two main religious monuments the site has produced, one with indigenous roots but firmly embedded in Hellenistic forms of architecture, the other Roman and imperial.

The temple of Mên was situated on a hill three and a half kilometres to the south-east of Antioch. The cult is identified from the many dedications (in Greek) built into the walls of the temenos. The sanctuary was destroyed in late antiquity by the Christians, since some of the material, such as the decorations, were ostensibly removed and perhaps buried on the spot, while other material was used in the construction of the Byzantine church. The smaller structures on the hill are identified as houses for the purpose of celebrating communal meals or for accommodating important visitors. Mitchell and Waelkens regard them as the permanent equivalent of the skênai which were erected at sacred sites during festivals. This is a bit misleading, because skênai is used to denote booths where itinerant traders came to install themselves at the times of the big festivals.[[2]] Direct evidence in support of the idea that the buildings were used as places where cult associations celebrated banquets in honour of the god is provided by the large quantities of animal bone found on the floor of House 3 (p. 79). In the same building there was found a stone seat carrying an inscription with the name of Menelaus, son of Atteus, who offered a vow to the god. The authors identify the seat as the 'regular seat of one of the devotees of the god, who used the room as a banqueting- or meeting-house', although they admit that a dedication to Mên does not support this idea (p. 79). Mitchell and Waelken's argument does not convince. Epigraphic evidence indicates that buildings near a sanctuary could be used as store- houses (oikoi).[[3]] It is not impossible that House 3 was such a store-house where dedications were taken when the temple had become too full. Since the dedicator did not possess Roman citizenship, the inscription may date back to the Hellenistic period. It is worth noting in conclusion that the colony's élite took a significant interest in the cult of Mên. Several of its members are recorded in inscriptions as priests of the cult and as agonothetae of the festivals in honour of the god (pp. 12f.).

The longest chapter in the book, 'The Augustan Imperial Sanctuary' (pp. 113-73), is devoted to a discussion of the ruins connected with the semicircular rock-cut area at the centre of the site. The building is universally recognized as a temple, although its attribution to the imperial cult has occasionally been disputed. The discussion here leaves no further reason for doubt. The sanctuary was dedicated to Augustus and completed during his lifetime. The authors take us through various aspects connected with the building and its location: the temple itself, including a long list of all the architectural remains discovered so far; the porticos and the Tiberia platea; the propylon; and the tholos--a construction of later date which was dedicated to Caracalla. Subsequently the sanctuary is the subject of detailed analysis with regard to the date of its construction and its possible Roman model. Of essential importance for a dating of the sanctuary are the six fragments belonging to the dedicatory inscription of the propylon which was discovered during the excavations led by D. M. Robinson. Careful examination of the text by Thomas Drew-Bear and Maurice Byrne has established that the building was dedicated to Augustus soon after he had received the title of pater patriae on 5 February 2 BC (p. 147). Since the propylon and the temple formed part of a single architectural design, the authors suggest that 2/1 BC is the most likely date for the completion of the entire complex.

The iconographic design of the propylon confirms the idea of a dedication to Augustus. Depictions of naked barbarians, symbols of fertility and peace, and allusions to Augustus' naval victories decorated the building. The link to the first emperor is clinched by a block which depicts the emperor's birth sign, the Capricorn (p. 163, plate 115). On top of the roof larger than life-size statues had been placed. Unfortunately all the heads and faces have been lost, but it is likely that they represented leading members of Augustus' family (pp. 163f.). At the four points which projected above the three-quarter columns of the façade, there appear to have been portraits of divinities with their familiar attributes. Demeter/Ceres and Poseidon (a reference to Augustus' naval victories is suggested by the authors on p. 160) can be definitely assigned to this arrangement. Tuchelt strongly argued in favour of assigning a block which is in Konya Museum to the same monument, an identification supported by the authors (p. 162);[[4]] it is traditionally taken to represent the god Mên in a youthful guise. The fourth sculpture has not been recovered. In view of the presence of Mên, it may therefore have been the case that the architects of the propylon were aiming at doing justice to the cultural and religious expressions of pre-colonial Antioch. In vivid contrast to the propylon, the temple itself was not as explicitly decorated. The akroterion statue of a female figure holding a shield (fig. 26, plate 95) still defies identification (the authors mention that it could be either Fortuna or Nike, but in the end prefer to see it as a 'Rankenfigur' [p. 159], which may be too unspecific for such an important building). The other decorations contain allusions to abundance and security (pp. 165f.).

It is suggested that the temple of Mars Ultor in Rome, completed in 2 BC, may have provided the main inspiration for the architectural design of the sanctuary. Why this temple was chosen as a model, as happened also in other provincial towns such as Pola and Nîmes, is not discussed. The other significant item pertaining to Augustus, the fragments of a Latin version of the Res Gestae, first discovered by Ramsay in 1914, was probably inscribed on the inner faces of the two central piers of the triple archway (pp. 146, 164). When exactly the text was inscribed is uncertain and ultimately remains dependent on which date is preferred for the redaction and publication of the original. Scholars generally accept that the document was completed in 2 BC, with minor additions being made in AD 13, and that it was inscribed in AD 14 after Augustus' death. The authors do not discuss the problem in connection with the redaction of the text and its subsequent publication in Antioch in much detail. They seem to prefer a date contemporaneous with the completion of the sanctuary and the propylon for the inscribing of the text in Antioch, somewhat later than 2 BC. The inscription of the text, however, may have been done under Tiberius. In any event, the building of the temple and propylon must have taken place in close cooperation with the central authorities in Rome, which testifies to the importance the local authorities and the emperor himself attached to the project. As a final comment, it is worth noting that the version of the Res Gestae displayed in Antioch is in Latin only, whereas the more famous one from Ancyra is bilingual and the version from Apollonia (also in Pisidia) is in Greek. All three versions come from the province of Galatia, and should probably be attributed to a zealous governor or to a zealous provincial koinon. The shattered condition of the Antioch text suggests that it was deliberately destroyed in antiquity (p. 149).

The work concludes with two useful appendices, the one listing the epigraphic and numismatic material that pertains to the building history of the city (pp. 219-30), the other presenting a list of archival material relating to the excavations (pp. 231-33). Relevant inscriptions are used throughout the chapters and the most important ones are the subject of careful reexamination and reinterpretation by Maurice Byrne and Thomas Drew-Bear. A corpus containing all the Greek and Latin inscriptions remains a desideratum, though. In conclusion, Mitchell and Waelkens have produced up-to-date interpretations of Antioch's main buildings and their work will undoubtedly provide a major stimulus to scholarly interest into the city's history and its socio-economic and cultural contexts. An international conference to discuss the city and site was held at Yalvaç in 1997 and it is to be hoped that the proceedings of this conference will be published in the not too distant future. The volume is lavishly produced, with many excellent plates and clear figures.[[5]]


[[1]] Barbara Levick, Roman Colonies in Asia Minor (Oxford 1967) 78.

[[2]] This is most clearly indicated in Pausanias 10.32.13. Cf. L. Soverini, `Il commercio nel tempio: osservazioni dei kapèloi a Samo (SEG XXVII, 545), Opus IX-X (1990-1991) 88f.; L. de Ligt, Fairs and Markets in the Roman Empire (Amsterdam 1993) 67f.

[[3]] cf. Soverini, above [1] 89-91.

[[4]] K. Tuchelt, 'Bemerkungen zum Tempelbezirk von Antiochia ad Pisidam', in Beitraege zur Altertumskunde Kleinasiens. Festschrift K. Bittel (Mainz 1983) 501-22.

[[5]] I have noted very few misprints (Anazarbus should be read instead of Anabarzus on p. 217; L. Calpurnius Longus instead of L. Calpurnius Pallus in note 59 on p. 17). A more serious error occurs on p. 10, where C. Crepereius Gallus is stated to have died together with Agrippina in the notorius yachting accident of AD 62.