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Olympos and the Localisation of Zeniketes’ Fortress
Olympos in eastern Lycia, 80 km south of Antalya, has attracted the attention of researchers from the 19th century. The earliest written evidence for the foundation history of the city are Lycian League coins; however, new evidence has been recently collected.

One of the basic factors for the rise of piracy from the 2nd century B.C. is that the Seleucids lost control over the seas. In addition, most of the Anatolian cities were in conflict with Rome during this period and they were supported by the pirates of Cilicia where most of the pirates were based in Cilicia Trachea.

The earliest battle between Rome and the pirates of the southern coasts took place in 102 B.C. and Marc Antony launched a campaign from both land and sea. The Romans began to seriously consider the pirates two years after the campaign of Marc Antony and the Roman Senate in consequence issued the law known as the Lex de Provinciis Praetoris. Written evidence for this dating back to 100 B.C. has been found at Delphi and Knidos. With this law, Rome aimed to protect both the Mediterranean and to provide safe sea travel for both friends and allies.

In the 1st century B.C. the pirates established their control over Cilicia Trachea and over the entire coastline as well as the interior of both flanks of the Taurus. In this period Side became a dockyard and the second most important slave market after Delos for the pirates and some cities on the coast of eastern Lycia also fell into the hands of the pirates. The pirates living on the south coastline of Anatolia supported Mithridates VI in his struggle with Rome, attested by the pirate attacks that stopped the gathering of a fleet by Lucius Licinius Lucullus during the first Mithridatic War. Despite the successful results that were obtained by Rome in the 80’s B.C., piracy continued. In the war with Mithridates, Rome saw the strategic importance of Cilicia and decided to eradicate the piracy and banditry and consequently Publius Servilius Vatia was sent to Cilicia in 78 B.C..

It is thought that Servilius set out in 78 B.C. and according to the information gathered from ancient sources, Vatia first attacked from the sea. Although Moagestes was the ruler in the hinterland of Lycia, the Kibyratis was probably occupied by the pirates as a consequence of the Mithridatic Wars. Vatia proceeded along the northern face of the Taurus at the same time and he attacked the pirates both from the north and from the south. During this period piracy is attested to only from the east coast of Lycia, so that Strabo praises the Lycians.

Although cooperation with the pirates was not favoured overall for Lycia, in eastern Lycia the situation was different and the unrest that arose caused discomfort for the Romans. In this area Zeniketes was the chief of the pirates, controlling Olympos, Phaselis, Korykos and many sites in Pamphylia. He ruled over Olympos and other east Lycian cities in the early 1st century B.C. until defeated by Vatia.

Zeniketes in Olympos ruled over the coastline to Phaselis and to the interior of Pamphylia. He extended his power into the interior during the chaos that arose in the war between Mithridates Eupator and Rome. In the Kibyratis, thought to have supported Zeniketes, he controlled Mount Solyma and the passes, protecting himself against possible attacks coming from inland.

According to Strabo, based upon Artemidoros, Olympos was one of the six cities having the right of three votes in the Lycian League. The earliest evidence are silver coins considered the sign of membership in the league that date from the 2nd century B.C. that carry the legend ΟΛΥΜΠΗ ΛΥΚΙΩΝ. However, the city must have left the League when it passed into the hands of Zeniketes and at the end of the century Olympos was not a member of the League and its connection with the League entirely ceased in the 1st century B.C.. In an inscription found at the Temple of Hekate in Lagina, the list of city members of the League does not include Olympos and Olympos must have been replaced by Limyra. As this inscription is dated 81 B.C., it was claimed that Olympos left the League by 81 B.C. at the latest. However, we are of the opinion that this date is late, Olympos must have left the League earlier. The Union coins of Olympos and Phaselis are found in Series 1. Those in the Series 2 and 3 are of the Pseudo-Union coin types. These coins imitate the genuine Union coins but do not carry the name of the League. Although the exact dates and the political contents of these coins are not known, they are dated to between 100 and 77 B.C. and it was claimed that the coins of Phaselis and Olympos did not carry the legends as these cities did not mint coins for the League. It seems logical to explain the minting of the Pseudo-Union coins was because these cities had left the League.

It is plausible that Olympos left the League about the time when it came under the control of Zeniketes, between 104 and 100 B.C. and the possible minting of Pseudo-Union coins about 100 B.C. also supports this hypothesis. If the city left the League around 100 B.C. – the conclusion from the available data – then the city was ruled by Zeniketes or his relatives for about 20 years until 78 or 77 B.C.

Benndorf suggested Zeniketes was a Cilician blacksmith who became the chief of the pirates, other scholars believe Zeniketes was not from Cilicia but was from this region because he died defended himself when Vatia captured Olympos. The possibility that he was of local origin is also indicated by the fact that he and his relatives ruled over Olympos for quite an extended period of time. The Olympians did not rebel against him in this long period– probably because the people were content under his rule and they preferred a local as their ruler and it is clear that Rome would have treated them differently if they had not supported Zeniketes. Servilius punished the city, savaged it terribly. This was also mentioned by Troxell who recorded that this city would not have been as badly destroyed if they had been captured by force. Further Strabo records Zeniketes did not surrender or abandon his fortress during the battle but, as Adak suggests, died by burning his home. A ruler of Olympos for about 20 years would certainly have known the region much better than the Romans and he could have escaped by land, if not by the sea, if he had wanted to but he continued his struggle to the end, just as the Xanthians would later do at Xanthos against Marc Antony. This course of events strongly suggests that Zeniketes was of local origin. The name Zeniketes is attested to, both at Olympos and Phaselis, during the Roman Imperial period another indication of a local origin.

The fortress of Zeniketes has not been localised but surveys by Antalya Museum in the 1990s suggested the possibility of Göktaş Fortress on the north slope of Mount Omurga. The existing remains are dated to the Late Byzantine and the Ottoman periods but Hellenistic walls can be traced in the centre and this later fortress was built upon the remains of the Hellenistic walls. It is built upon a rocky area at an altitude of 170-175 m. above the sea. The only Hellenistic remains in the Göktaş Fortress can be traced in the western corner of Room I, on the north-south wall and Room V. The walls which we think date to the Hellenistic period parallel the Hellenistic period defence structures found in Lycia (fortress, tower-farmhouse) in respect to wall thicknesses.
However, Strabo states that the fortress of Zeniketes was located, “on top of a mountain overlooking all Lycia, Pamphylia and the Milyas.” Göktaş Fortress overlooks the sea on its west and southwest sides and to the east it partially overlooks the mountains of the hinterland and although it is located on top of a rocky area, it is surrounded by flat land suitable for agriculture. It is clearly visible from the surroundings and this does not conform to the statement made by Strabo that it was located “on top of a mountain”, it stands on a rise of only 170-175 m.. It had a view over any ships coming from the west and over the hills in the hinterland but towards the east its view is limited. It is more probable that Göktaş Fortress was a pirate watchtower, for ships coming from the west or was a tower-farmhouse with agricultural land around it as is attested by the grind stone that was found there. Consequently, Zeniketes’ Fortress lies elsewhere, possibly upon Mount Musa, as Adak proposes.

The settlement on Mount Musa is surrounded by fortifications except on the west where the defence is provided from the sheer face of the natural rocks. The eastern fortifications are built from cut stones. Byzantine structures are clustered to the north and southeast. Some of the fortifications have bossed and pseudo-isodomic masonry.
Adak suggested that this was the original Olympos, founded by the Ptolemies or by Antiokhos III; and that the Olympos on the coast was Korykos – the port of Olympos. Korykos then became Olympos during the Roman period while the site on the mountain lost its importance and became a village. Korykos is mentioned only three times during the course of historical events had earlier been localised at Atbükü. From Strabo, Korykos should be localised between Olympos and Phaselis.

We agree with Adak’s localisation of Olympos on Mount Musa but we do not find it appropriate that the present-day Olympos should be identified as Korykos; we think Korykos is located further to the north, near Atbükü. In support of this is the inscription from the Large Baths in Olympos that records it as one of the earliest baths in Lycia. Korykos was of no great importance, it did not develop much, and further its name is nowhere mentioned after 45 A.D., so why did the Roman Empire build baths here in 78 A.D., almost 25 years after Korykos had disappeared from the sources? Considering the cities with Flavian period baths, it is observed they had a high status and were largely constructed during the Pax Romana. However, Korykos seems not to have had such wealth and status attached to its history, Olympos does.

Although not proved from the written evidence, if it is considered that the Roman baths were built in Korykos, having the status of a “developing city”, it is not possible to understand why it was unable to retain its name and was then became assimilated to those who came from Olympos in the mountains.

*Ögr. Gör. Dr. Elif Uğurlu
Anadolu Üniversitesi, Edebiyat Fakültesi, Arkeoloji Bölümü, Kampüs - Eskişehir.
E-mail: eugurlu@anadolu.edu.tr

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