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The Belen and Kelbessos farmsteads with towers on the border of Pisidia-Lycia and some thoughts on security in the countrysid
Nevzat ÇEVİK* - Süleyman BULUT**
The ruins at Kelbessos and Belen first discovered in 1993 and 2001 respectively, during fieldwork are unique examples in the region for some of their architectural features. In addition, the data on security in the countryside they present in connection with other related buildings in their near proximity constitutes the subject matter of this article. The presence of small settlements with security aspects in the region seems to have the potential to cast some light upon rural settlements in other regions too. The farmsteads with towers at Belen and Kelbessos are here evaluated for the first time together with the concerns for security in the countryside.

The similarities and differences between the Belen and Kelbessos farms with towers are the following: Both farms are located on natural rock elevations and overlook the roads and fields and the routes to the valleys. However, the Belen fields are larger than those of the Kelbessos farmstead. The general layouts are similar. Both have a tower of similar size and form. It is clear that the Belen tower was two-storeyed while that at Kelbessos is presumed to have had a second storey. Both towers were built with isodomic masonry but the blocks of Kelbessos tower have slight bossage and angled joints between some, which distinguish it from the Belen tower. Both towers have a very strong locking mechanism securing the entrance door. There are adjacent farm residences and work-areas shaped according to the terrain. There is a rectangular storehouse of similar dimensions and large capacity at each site: Belen’s storehouse is 63 sqm. while that of Kelbessos is 54 sqm.. What distinguishes that of Belen is that it is connected to the encircling wall together with the tower thus taking it under its protection. On the other hand, the storehouse of the Kelbessos farm is isolated from the other buildings. Belen farm has two gates while Kelbessos has a single gate. The differences emerge partly from differences in time and partly from differences in topography. The general planning of the Kelbessos farm does not differ much from that of the Belen farm. The Belen farm must have been built in the crisis period that started with the unrest in the 3rd century A.D.. The structural aspects support this hypothesis. Especially the masonry and stone work of the tower are exactly parallel with those of the bathhouse at Typallia. Other buildings which are built mainly with rubble and mortar and partly with block stones all date to the Roman period. The date of the Kelbessos farm with tower is open to debate. The masonry of the tower suggests the Hellenistic period based on its slight bossage and angled joints; however, it closely resembles the bossed masonry of the Lyrboton Kome tower, which is dated to the 1st century A.D.. When the city walls of Kelbessos and the towers standing alone to the west of the fortress are taken into consideration, it is possible to claim that the abovementioned tower, which completes the defensive line in the east, may have been built in the Late Hellenistic – Early Roman period and that the buildings around the tower were added in the Roman period, thus a secure Roman farmstead with a tower was formed.

Comparing the Belen and Kelbessos farmsteads with a tower with the towers built for agricultural purposes in Cilicia and Pamphylia, as well as the tower farms in Lycia, built in the Hellenistic period, the following points are worth noting: the Belen and Kelbessos towers are usually much smaller in size when compared with those in Lycia, Pamphylia and Cilicia; the Hellenistic farm towers are usually three- or more storeyed whereas the examples forming the subject of this article are two-storeyed, closer to the Lycian towers; the Belen tower is located at a point suitable for watching over the surrounding agricultural land, just as those in Lycia and Cilicia. The Kelbessos tower overlooks not only the agricultural land but also the entire valley and the ancient road to the city. The units and the land overlooked in both examples suggest that these towers were meant mainly for agricultural purposes like the tower farms of Lycia and Cilicia. The isodomic masonry observed in both towers resembles the Lycian examples. On the other hand, the Cilician towers in most cases were built with polygonal masonry. The bossed masonry of Kelbessos recalls the Lycian examples. Both examples have their living quarters starting on the ground floor just like in the towers of Lycia and Cilicia. However, in some examples such as Çığlık, the ground floor was employed for storage, isolated and located beneath the living quarters. The accommodation provided by the Belen and Kelbessos examples is considerably less than that in the Hellenistic farm towers of Cilicia; the concealed tunnel at Belen is unique and no parallel is known in Lycia, Pamphylia and Cilicia for this tunnel.

There is a widely held supposition that there was no need for defensive fortresses/units thanks to the peace that prevailed during the Roman Imperial period. In Lycia, Pamphylia and Cilicia, where there are numerous defensive buildings of the Classical, Hellenistic and Byzantine periods, the lack of Roman period evidence supports this supposition. In particular, beginning under Augustus, there was security and peace across the Empire with the roads built with pre-planning, military colonies and economic measures taken. Following Claudius’ unification of Pamphylia and Lycia in 43 A.D. into a single province, the region achieved a better administrative level. This secure life in the region was, however of short-lived duration and by the mid-3rd century, peace and security decreased due to warfare, earthquakes and epidemic diseases and subsequently in the province as elsewhere, rebellions, confusion and lawlessness increased. This was particularly the case for rural areas and small settlements that were distant from the city centres and in these rural areas insecurity rapidly increased and brigands in particular threatened these rural settlements.

The different sized settlements in suitable positions on both flanks of the Doyran Valley, where our examples are found, played an important role in the agricultural production of the area. It is also likely that the fortified ones provided some security for the routes, whereas those along the valley forming the Lycian-Pisidian border provided security for the routes as a secondary function beyond their primary agricultural functions. The ruins discovered in this area provide information on rural security during the Roman period in Lycia about which there is little known, but concerning which there are considerable examples in Lycia dating from the Hellenistic period. It can be understood that the security situation for these small settlements and farms changed little from the Hellenistic to the Roman period, as although the political and administrative structures changed with the advent of the Roman Empire, the same anxieties and worries resulted in similar security arrangements in these small settlements and farms in both periods because in Cilicia and Pamphylia there are also isolated towers built for local defensive purposes in addition to the towers farms of the Roman period.

The farmsteads with towers at Belen and Kelbessos show their descent from Hellenistic ancestry, because of the same concerns for rural security, but with some plan differences, as mentioned above. The Hellenistic tower farms were built to protect agricultural production and to provide security to the local farming population against bandits and other dangers. Belen, for these same reasons and tradition, is a unique example in the region of a farmstead with a tunnel and tower dating from the Roman period (ca. 3rd century A.D.) and the same applies for the Kelbessos farmstead with its tower employed in the Roman period, but the date of construction of this tower is presently unclear. The uniqueness of the Belen farmstead with tower in the region stems not only from its construction during the Roman period but also from its concealed tunnel and its double door system.

*Nevzat Çevik
Akdeniz Üniversitesi, Edebiyat Fakültesi, Arkeoloji Bölümü, Kampüs 07040 Antalya.
E-mail: ncevik@akdeniz.edu.tr

**Lecturer Süleyman Bulut
Akdeniz Üniversitesi, Edebiyat Fakültesi, Arkeoloji Bölümü, Kampüs, 07040 Antalya.
E-mail: sbulut@akdeniz.edu.tr

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