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S U M M A R Y

A Sarcophagus at Adrassos, Isauria, between Paganism and Christianity
Serra DURUGÖNÜL – Deniz KAPLAN – Ulus TEPEBAŞ
Two sarcophagi, nos. 40 and 51 in the necropolis of Adrassos, constitute the scope of this article. While a new iconographic interpretation is proposed for them, the Silifke relief is also presented here for the first time thanks to its similar iconography. The reliefs, architectural decor and inscription of sarcophagus no. 51 provide us with important clues.

In the Late Roman/Early Byzantine period scenes of surrender, without a particular triumph, were identified with universal hegemony, while Persians and Germans started to symbolize the frontiers of the land ruled by the Roman emperor. On sarcophagus no. 51 the figure coming from the left wears a costume, whose sleeves are hanging down loose, which suggests a Persian costume. However, this person should be considered a local Isaurian, considered a “barbarous oriental” by the Romans, and not a Persian. The figure in the centre is a vassal ruler of the Romans. The scene thus depicts him receiving the new “decrees” from this ruler. Indeed the Isaurians committed many rebellions and riots that destroyed Isauria and its environs in the 4th century A.D.

Both the iconographic narration and architectural décor of sarcophagus no. 51 place this sarcophagus at a special position among fourth-century A.D. sarcophagi. The iconographic narration here is a rare example of the process of iconographic transfer from the East to the West. It is of importance for it shows the continuity between pagan Roman land and Christian Ravenna. This sarcophagus, representing the last round of a pagan sarcophagus series that paves the way for new Christian iconography, should be considered among the latest pagan sarcophagi. This is because paganism retained its existence in the mountainous parts of Isauria where Adrassos is located. Therefore, the concerned sarcophagus bears an iconography not related to Christianity at the end of the fourth century at a time when Christian iconography is observed on sarcophagi and other archaeological realia in other localities.

The survival of classical forms in architecture is also parallel to the iconographic narration not Christianised yet. This is important, for it sheds light onto the fourth-century decoration in Asia Minor by filling a gap. The style here continues the characteristics of the preceding period. Furthermore, the décor on the sarcophagus is pioneering for fifth- and sixth-century decoration in Isauria.

Prof. Dr. Serra Durugönül,
Mersin Üniversitesi, Fen-Edebiyat Fakültesi, Arkeoloji Bölümü,
33342 Çiftlikköy Kampüsü, Mersin
E-posta: sdurugonul@mersin.edu.tr

Yrd. Doç. Dr. Deniz Kaplan,
Mersin Üniversitesi, Fen-Edebiyat Fakültesi, Arkeoloji Bölümü,
33342 Çiftlikköy Kampüsü, Mersin
E-posta: kaplanarke@gmail.com

Arkeolog (MA) Ulus Tepebaş,
Mersin Üniversitesi, Fen-Edebiyat Fakültesi, Arkeoloji Bölümü,
33342 Çiftlikköy Kampüsü, Mersin
E-posta: ulustepebas@gmail.com

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