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Taşkapı: A Garrison in the Territorium of Adada
Mehmet ÖZSAİT – Guy LABARRE – Nesrin ÖZSAİT – İlhan GÜCEREN*
Surveys in Taşkapı, Kömürlük and Belen within the territory of Sütçüler township, 101 km. southeast of Isparta carried out in 2009 are as follows:
Taşkapı: The site is located on top of a high plateau dominating its surroundings, about 500 m. southeast of Sütçüler and 15 km. north of Adada (see Map 1). The settlement is on top and middle parts of the rocky hills of limestone rising towards southeast. Flanked with creeks flowing into Kestros (Aksu Çayı) the settlement dominates the surroundings and fortified with walls.
Taşkapı, which is located on the northeast of the settlement and which gives the settlement its name, provides access via a road of possibly Roman period (Figs. 3-5, Plan 1). From Taşkapı towards the rocky part with the TV transmitter extends a fortification wall of 1.20 m. thickness and built with dressed bossed stones on the interior and exterior sides in the casemate technique (Figs. 7-8). There is a second gate in this section (nr. 2, fig. 6). Then the fortification turns northwestward and disappears. As this section is extremely steep perhaps it was not necessary to build fortifications here. Fortifications, and a third gate, are seen again on the west side of the settlement (nr. 3, figs. 9-10). This area is densely overgrown and prevented our detailed exploration. The wall connecting the rocky terrain could be followed at places.
On the east, on the ridges dominating the valley are fortifications, rock cut stairs (nr. 5, fig. 12) and the remains of two rectangular buildings (nrs. 6-7, fig. 13). These structures 200 m. away from each other must be small bastions built to check the canyon and the valley extending south. Considering that this valley reaches Adada in the north, the importance of these structures become apparent.
In the west, a fortification within the settlement served both defense and terracing purposes. Construction quality and careful joinings of blocks suggest Hellenistic date (nr. 8, fig. 14). This terrace allows full check and observation over the plateau extending south to the canyon and the north valley to Adada. Yet, the building and fortification on the northwest of the terrace retained their existence in Late Antiquity and Byzantine period despite the change of construction quality (nr. 9, fig. 15). It is understood that the settlement was not abandoned in this period but the living conditions became very difficult and the settlement became introverted. A cistern on the west slope still serves even in August (nr. 10, fig. 16). A semi-elliptic pool, fed with rain water, was built on the peak of Asar Tepe (nr. 11, figs. 17-20). There are two platforms above the pool while a third one is found in the front, on the left. Together with the platforms on the very top of the settlement the votive niches suggest that the pool was not meant for water collection but also for religious rituals. At the south end of the settlement, on the hill, extend the Beybağı ridges dominating all the steep cliffs up to Yazılı Kanyon. This area is not suitable for settlement due to its rocky terrain but there are two cisterns and one votive niche (nr. 14, fig. 23).
Continuing north, the settlement is revealed with the terrace walls, dressed stones, building bricks and pottery.
Settlement and cult sites: There is an exedra in the eastward extension of the rocks used by the shepherds for overnight sheltering, on the south foot of Asar Tepe (nr. 15, figs. 24-25); in addition, to the west of Asar Tepe, on a smoothened rock surface are six niches, 1.85 m. above the ground (nr. 16, fig. 26). These niches should be the holes for relieving beams. A large area void of any buildings extending on the west foot of the hill is probably the agora (?) (nr. 17, fig. 27). On the rocks nearby are niches one of which is topped with an incised cross, as if a grave existed over it, but all is damaged with illicit digs (Fig. 28).
On a promontory at the west end of the rocks, dominating its surroundings up to Yazılı Kanyon, are the foundation remains of a building measuring 12x6 m. (nr. 18, figs. 29-31), which must belong to a temple. In the area below this promontory are numerous architectural elements. Here was a poorly preserved ten-line inscription in ancient Greek on a base half buried (Fig. 32). The fact that it is on a base may suggest there was a statue on top.
About ten meters south of the temple (?) are the foundations of another building. North of the temple (?) is a rock-cut square (Figs. 33-34) is a series of niches again for holding beams and there are two platforms on either end of the rocks. Further ahead is a rock-cut niche and rock-cut stairs on the right corner of the rocks (Fig. 35).
When the settlement was abandoned and the buildings fell in ruins the blocks were reused while some fell down the hillside. There is a fountain on the west in the lower part of the settlement (nr. 19, fig. 36). It was built with blocks taken from ruins in 1972. 200 m. further down is a fragment of a fluted column (Fig. 37) and another 100 m. further down are two more columns. The first has a diameter of 0.60 m. and has no inscription (Fig. 38) while the second has a poorly preserved Greek inscription of eight lines in a panel (Fig. 39).
A big mass of rock above the cistern nr. 10 is cut (nr. 22, fig. 40) and a votive niche, a canal and a pit of 0.40 m. diameter were cut. This is a religious site. In addition there are numerous votive niches cut into the rocks in many other places in the settlement.
In our surveys we noted many settlements and remains related with cults near Taşkapı:
A. Kömürlük and environs:
1. Kömürlük is a large area about 3.5 km. northwest of Sütçüler. There is a votive niche on a rock mass (Fig. 41) and bricks of the Roman period, grave tiles and traces of an ancient grave.
2. A niche and a cult site on a rock mass. Three holes before the rock cut to place stelae and potshards of the Roman period around (Figs. 42-43).
3. Near Kömürlük, a votive niche on a rock at Benlioğlu Mevkii.
4. At Elmalı Oluk Mevkii 8 km. north of Sütçüler are the remains of a church built with cut stone blocks, with its apse facing east.
5. On the way to Elmalı Oluk, north of Esmahanım Taşı are the remains of a building measuring 7x10 m. with a wall thickness of 0.90-1.10 m. This was probably a small fortified building to provide the security of the road leading to Adada from Taşkapı. In spite of very few Roman potshards around, construction bricks and tile fragments are abundant. These should belong to the lids of graves damaged during the road construction recently.
B. Belen Asarı:
1. Belen is a quarter of Sütçüler, located 5 km. east of the settlement. Here on a hill (1297 m.) is the ancient settlement known as Belen Asarı today. Although badly damaged, the foundations of buildings built with large cut stone blocks are extant. The settlement spreads over an area of ca. 250x400 m. and the walls encircling it can be followed (Fig. 44). The walls have survived mostly as foundations and two or three courses of stones at places. No inscription or coins were noted during the surveys to reveal the name of this settlement whose importance is inferred from the remains and location. On the surface are bricks and mostly potshards of the 2nd-3rd centuries. There are two wells about 30 m. southwest of the settlement hill.
2. To the southeast of the hill of Belen Asarı are three votive niches facing east on a rock mass (Fig. 45); about 10 m. to the right of them are four more niches again facing east (Fig. 46).
3. At the foot of the hill, on another rock mass is an inscription of later periods meaning, “Oh Lord, help us” (Figs. 47-48).
4. About 1 km. southwest of Belen Asarı on the smoothened east side of a rock mass is another Greek inscription, 20 lines long and in poor condition, with a votive niche about one meter above (Figs. 49-50). Roman potshards are noted among heaps of cut stones, bricks and burnt building remains.
Consequently, taking into account the extant remains, Taşkapı is a fortified settlement, that is castle-town. Lack of sources and especially the inscriptions prevents us from clearly identifying the site. At first glance, the site does not have many religious and public buildings and covers a small area. These are more like the remains of a village type settlement. Compared with the neighboring Adada, public buildings like theater, agora and temples of civilized communities are not found here. Taşkapı settlement is located at an important point to check the roads and was fortified in the Hellenistic period, possibly in the 3rd century BC. It looks like Taşkapı was under the political hegemony of a nearby civil community, which must be Adada. The wide territory of Adada extends from Kestros (Aksu) on the west up to Eurymedon (Köprüçay) on the east and reaching Tinbriada on the north. The southwest section of Adada’s territory down to Yazılı Kanyon was probably checked by the garrison at Taşkapı.

* Prof. Dr. M. Özsait
İstanbul Üniversitesi, Edebiyat Fakültesi, Eskiçağ Tarihi Anabilim Dalı, Laleli-İstanbul
E-mail: mehmetozsait@hotmail.com

Prof. Dr. G. Labarre
Université de Franche-Comté (Besançon, France)
E-mail: guy.labarre@univ-fcomte.fr

N. Özsait
Erenköy, Bayar Cad. Eser Apt. No: 7/24, Kadıköy - İstanbul

İ. Güceren
Isparta Müzesi, Isparta

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