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Korykion Antron and Göztepesi: Old Problems, New Finds and New Proposals
Hamdi ŞAHİN – Fethi Ahmet YÜKSEL – Ziya GÖRÜCÜ*
The Cennet and Cehennem, (Paradise and Hell) caves (ancient Korykion Antron), and
also known as Corycian Cave, are located 20 km northeast of Silifke İlçesi, 2 km northwest
of Narlıkuyu and about 5 km southwest of Korykos; they were first discovered by P.
de Tchichatcheff, a Russian naturalist, in 1852 and attracted the attention of academia. In
1890, Th. Bent explored the caves and the temple, 10 m south, which was converted to a
church in Late Antiquity. He published his study in two articles, which contained contradictory
information. In the article published in 1890, he stated that he identified, at “a temple
located one mile north of the caves”, two inscriptions regarding Zeus Korykios - one of
which was a graffito on the temple wall and the other was on an altar - along with a list of
the priests names lists on the northeast ante of the church’s north wall at Korykion Antron.
However, in his article of 1891, he stated that the two inscriptions and the priest name lists
were found at different temples. In L. Hicks’s article of 1891, based on the copies by Bent
and presenting the epigraphic finds, it became clear that the name list and the inscriptions
regarding Zeus Korykios were found at different sites. Bent suggested the names
in the lists were “members of the Teukrids or the priest-kings of Olba” while E. L. Hicks
thought they were “the people who contributed to the construction of the temple” and W.
M. Ramsay thought they were “the people who donated money for the construction of
the temple”. On the other hand, R. Heberdey and A. Wilhelm, who explored the region
in 1891 and 1892, proposed that these were the names of the priests of Zeus Korykios. In
1925, J. Keil and A. Wilhelm started historical geographic and epigraphic surveys in Rough
Cilicia and made a drawing and a short description of the church at Korykion Antron. This
was the most comprehensive work on the temple and church at Korykion Antron until
the article published by O. Feld and H. Weber in 1967. G. Dagron and J. Marcillet-Jaubert
published an inscription from the Silifke Museum in 1978. Engraved on a rectangular altar,
the inscription dedicates the altar to Hermes Korykion. Dagron and Marcillet-Jaubert
dated it to AD 209-211 when Caracalla and Geta ruled together. M. H. Sayar identified two
altars dedicated to Zeus Kodopaios in the temple area at Göztepesi during his historical
geography and epigraphic surveys in 1996. During her surveys at Göztepesi in 1990s, S.
Durugönül identified a block broken into three pieces, turned upside down, and bearing
letters and a thunderbolt. Another find regarding Zeus Kodopas was found by the author
in 2007 at Çele Mevkii, about 3 km northwest of Korykion Antron. The two-line inscription
is dedicated to Zeus Kodopas. The term Kodopaios found in the other two inscriptions
from Göztepesi is the Hellenized form of Kodopas, which is possibly a Luwian word
used by the locals of Rough Cilicia into the Roman Imperial Period.
The claim by Th. Bent that the church at Korykion Antron was built with stones taken
from “the temple [Göztepesi] above the caves” was welcomed by some other scholars later.
In order to explore the validity of this claim we carried out geological, petrographic, paleontological
and archae-geophysical surveys in addition to architectural measurements in
our 2009 campaign.
1. Architectural Measurements
Various stone blocks in the extant west and north walls of the Göztepesi “temple”
were measured and the results were compared with those in the north wall of the church
at Korykion Antron. The comparisons clearly showed that the stone blocks used in both
structures are of different dimensions. Stone blocks used in the “temple” at Göztepesi
measure 47-56 cm high, 57-142 cm long and 46-62 cm thick while those in the north wall
of the church at Korykion Antron are 35-79 cm high, 91-134 cm long and 72-78 cm thick.
In other words, the Göztepesi blocks are thinner than those at Korykion Antron even
when their rear sides are roughly worked only. Since chiselling will make the final product
even smaller, it invalidates the claim by Bent.
2. Geological, Petrographic, Paleontological and Archaeo-geophysical Work
Geological work started with site exploration of the ancient buildings at Korykion
Antron and Göztepesi. Samples were taken from the rocks and the stone blocks of each
building for petrographic and fossil content analyses. Thin sections prepared for petrographic
analysis were studied under polarizing microscope and petrographic differences
were noted. This analysis aimed at identifying any material transfers from earlier buildings
to those under construction.
Both macro and micro samples examined showed that petrographic and paleontological
data obtained from AT 1 and AT 2 and those from ATT 1 and ATT 2 are in conformity
with each other. Thus, the stone blocks used for the construction of the church at
Korykion Antron were most probably hewn from the bedrock on which the temple rested
here. Indeed, there is evidence for former quarries nearby.
Both macro and micro scale examination at and around the “temple” site of Göztepesi
showed this temple was built with stone quarried from nearby since clayey limestone,
sampled from the temple walls, is found only as an intermediate layer in the rocks around
the temple. However, the samples taken from the temple/church at Korykion Antron did
not contain any clayey limestone. Thus, the lithology and petrographic fabric of both sites
differ from each other, and additionally, lack of clayey limestone in the temple/church at
Korykion Antron shows each structure was built with stones quarried from local rocks
around them.
Both architectural measurements and analyses in petrography, geology and paleontology
showed that the claim by Th. Bent, proposed 120 years ago and admitted by the
academia without any crosscheck, was wrong. Thus, the church at Korykion Antron was
not built with stones procured from Göztepesi.
In order to identify any possible extension of and foundations of the east wall of the
“temple” at Göztepesi geophysical surveys were done in a gridded area of 250 sq. m(25x10 m) to the south of the “temple” partially levelled by the villagers for cultivation
purposes. Surveys were done at two separate areas at temple/church site of Korykion
Antron. The first area is 132 sq. m (11x12 m), again gridded, extending between the west
end of the temple/church and the peribolos wall. Magnetic maps show regular and irregular
anomalies. Heaps of building stones display irregular anomalies while column bases
are seen as individual circles. The magnetic map of Göztepesi does not reveal any series
of anomalies that might indicate architectural remains. Existing composite anomalies are
understood to have been caused by karstic morphology. The circular anomalies obtained
within the peribolos wall at Korykion Antron may have arisen from the column bases or
drums. Regular lines or angular anomalies may indicate foundations. The second area of
survey by the church is 135 sq. m (15x9 m), gridded, and extending parallel to the north
wall of the church, showing some regular anomalies which may indicate architectural remains
and foundations of the temple.
Inscriptions from the “temple” at Göztepesi and its environs are dated to the Roman
Imperial period and mention Zeus Korykios, Hermes Korykios, Zeus Kodopaios and Zeus
Kodopas. These inscriptions point to the fact that this site was not a single “temple” dedicated
to a single deity but rather a sanctuary where offerings were made to various deities.
The 1100-meter long ancient road we have identified between Göztepesi and Korykion
Antron seems to support this hypothesis. This ancient road starts from the southeast of the
“temple” at Göztepesi, extends southwards for 1050 m and passes by the east of Cennet
cave, terminating 50 m before the north wall of the church at Korykion Antron; the last
segment of 50 m cannot be followed as it lies under the touristic facilities built in 1988.
Stones used in the paving of the road surface indicate a certain construction programme.
This is the shortest route between Korykion Antron and Göztepesi and was probably used
as a ceremonial road in the Roman Imperial Period.
The priests’ name lists on the north wall at Korykion Antron do not include the name
of the deity worshiped at the temple. Such information was probably inscribed on a block
that is now missing, but which would have been, originally located between the first block
of the name lists and the ante capital. Therefore, further excavations are necessary to identify
the name of the deity to which the temple was dedicated and the first site of the temple
in the Hellenistic period. 

* Yrd. Doç. Dr. Hamdi Şahin
İstanbul Üniversitesi, Edebiyat Fakültesi, Tarih Bölümü, Eskiçağ Tarihi Anabilim Dalı, Laleli - İstanbul
E-posta: hcsahin@istanbul.edu.tr

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