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New Proposals for the Kurşun Kalesi Temple and Stoa in Rough Cilicia
Hamdi Şahin – Aşkım Özdizbay
Upon news of the discovery by villagers of a ruined site within the territory of Yeğenli village of the Silifke district in Mersin province, Kurşun Kalesi came under study within the frame of the “Rough Cilicia Settlement Archaeology and Epigraphy Surveys” in 2007. The ancient site is a small hilltop settlement measuring 300x200 m. Extending in a north-south direction, the settlement rises northward as per the topography. Dwellings from the 3rd to 4th centuries A.D. are scattered across the site starting from the south foot of the hill. Right to the east and west of these building remains are threshing fields with olive oil and wine presses. At the highest point in the northeast part of the site is a temple and the remains of a stoa about 50 m. northeast of the temple. In the course of the 2007 campaign two Greek inscriptions were documented in the stoa and one on the architrave in front of the temple.

The temple mentioned in previous publications is thoroughly studied in this article. It rises on a rock mass in the northwest part of the settlement, extending in a northwest-southeast direction with its main façade and entrance on the southeast. To its northwest is the steep Karyağdı valley. The temple is located at the highest point of the site and dominates it. There are no remains indicating that the temple had an encircling temenos. To the north, east and south sides of the building are massive rocks; on most of which are marks of quarrying. Thus, this rocky section served as a quarry for constructions in the settlement. The stylobate of the temple measures 15.52x7.838 m. It was built directly on bedrock without any foundations. Irregular rock surfaces were smoothened where the temple walls were built. This smoothening is well attested at the bottom of the temple’s north wall, which is the best-preserved side. It is understood that the floor partially visible along the long walls on the north and south sides of the naos was chiselled from the bedrock. Two blocks in a row by the end of the south anta and one intact block and maybe others concealed under debris along the southeast (entrance) side indicate that the floor was paved. This section must have served as a stylobate in order to balance the columns properly. From the former plan drawn by B. Söğüt it is observed that the pronaos survives with only one north-south wall extension today with its counterpart no longer existing. Our investigation did not note any wall extension that might belong to the pronaos. This may be due to damage over time; however, it must also be kept in mind that the temple might not have had a pronaos. On the interior side of the long north cella wall are two niches – one big and arched while the other is small and rectangular. Architectural elements of limestone scattered around reveal that the building was a small Doric prostyle tetrastyle temple. Calculations have shown that intercolumnar distances are close to systylos. The masonry has polygonal and irregular shaped blocks, typically seen during the Hellenistic period in the region. About 20 m. east of the temple is a rock mass, which was quarried around thus
creating an irregular, quadrangular prismatic look. On its east side is a low step-like formation.
This deliberately shaped rock mass could be the rock altar of the temple. The corner blocks of
the pediment show that the structure had a pitched roof, and measurements of extant architectural
pieces yielded a height of 10.495 m. The Kurşun Kalesi Temple can be categorized under
“Intra-Settlement Temples”. Column drums are roughly worked and flutes not carved; lifting
protrusions on the blocks were not chiselled off. Therefore, the temple’s construction could be
financed only with the finishing touches never completed. Plan and architectural characteristics
continue Hellenistic temple tradition while it also contains common architectural features
of Roman Imperial period temples. Based on comparisons and increase in construction in the
region during the first century A.D., it is possible to date the temple to the later 1st century with
the earliest to the reign of Vespasian. The inscription that has toppled down reveals that the
building was used as a tomb in the 3rd-4th centuries A.D. This inscription reads as follows:

Limestone architrave block, fallen on the southeast and turned upside down, belonging to the
façade, inscription on its front side. Lines of inscription are not linear and letters are not careful.

H. 0.62 m. W. 2.47 m. H. of letters 0.035-0.04 m.
[- - - - - ]῾Ερμησιάνακτος τῆς
γυναικὸς αὐτοῦ.
……, son of Hermesianax, had it built for his wife.

The rectangular stoa extending in an east-west direction was built with irregular polygonal
limestone without mortar (logaden). In the east, three column-drums lie near each other, close
to their in situ position. These drums had Doric capitals as inferred. In the back of the stoa are
no other rooms such as shops. There is a room to the east of the stoa accessed via an arched
doorway. Another room of unknown function is found adjoining the west end of the stoa. Two
inscriptions of the 1st-2nd century A.D. belonging to the stoa reveal that it was built for Selene
Epekoos through personal donations. The inscriptions read as follows:

Rectangular limestone block, inside the stoa, four-line inscription within a tabula ansata. First
line is damaged due to elements.

H. 0.96 m. W. 1.73 m. H. of letters 0.03-0.04 m.
[Λο]ύ̣κ̣ι̣ο̣ς Σε̣κ̣οῦ̣ν̣δ̣ο̣ς
[Σε]λήνῃ ’Ε̣π̣[η]κ[ό]ῳ
τήν σ[τοὰ]ν [ἐ]κ τῶν
Lucius Secundus (had) the stoa (built) for Selene Epekoos with his own money.

In the room at the west end of the stoa is the five-line inscription within a tabula ansata on
a rectangular block. The first line is partially damaged.

H. 0.79 m. W. 1.40 m. H. of letters 0.04-0.05 m.
Ηλι̣ς (?) [’Ι]ουλίου [’Ρ]ο̣ύφο[υ]
Σελήν[ῃ] ’Επ [η]κ[ό]ῳ
στοὰν ἐκ τῶν ἰδί-
ων ἐπί κείονα̣ς

Elis (?), son of Iulius Rufus, (had it built) for Selene Epekoos up to the fifth column of the stoa with
his own money.

An evaluation of inscriptions from Rough Cilicia reveals that the cults of Zeus, Hermes and
Athena are the dominant ones. However, with political, social and cultural changes experienced
as of the 1st century A.D. new cults started to appear in the region. As inferred from inscriptions
the goddess Selene received wide acceptance from each layer of society during this
period. Selene is perceived as guardian of tombs in all inscriptions either alone or with Helios,
Zeus, Athena and underworld deities. However, at Kurşun Kalesi Selene is for the first time attested
as a “goddess of hearing”.

Although it is not direct evidence, the inscriptions, which must be linked with the temple,
may indicate that this temple was actually dedicated to Selene. It is possible to state that the
site of the temple had served as a natural sanctuary before the temple was built. The area
was used also as a stone quarry. The stone materials needed for the temple, stoa, houses and
tombs were procured from the site itself. Political peace and high economic welfare attained
in the Early Roman Imperial period allowed for an increase in construction. The Kurşun Kalesi
Temple should have been built in the 1st century A.D., possibly in the reign of Vespasian at
the earliest. The sanctuary started to take its shape with the construction of the temple, and a
stoa was added in the 1st-2nd century A.D. as evinced by the inscriptions. The absence of shops
behind the stoa, thus not belonging to an agora, and its dedication to Selene show that the
stoa was a sacred one. In order to emphasize the sacred character of the temple, the highest
and the most prominent point at the site was picked for its location. The structure not only
is abstracted from its surrounding through its dominating position but also is in the centre of
a sanctuary and not surrounded with profane structures. Dwellings and adjacent work-areas
were annexed to the sanctuary during the 3rd-4th centuries A.D., thus giving the site a settlement
character. In this period the temple should have served as a tomb as inferred from the
inscription on its architrave. The settlement continued probably until the 4th-5th centuries A.D.

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