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A Votive Stele with Plouton-Kore Depiction from Pisidia and Some Remarks on the Local Cult
Ayça Polat Becks – Hüseyin Metin
The votive stele presented in this article was found in the village of Keçili on the border of the Bucak district of Burdur and is currently housed at the Burdur Museum. The Keçili village is located on the southeast foot of Kestel Dağı, in the Kilde Boğazı Mevkii between the lakes of Kestel (Paludes) and Anbahan. This location corresponds to southwest fringe of ancient Pisidia (Fig. 1). The site was presented to the academic world by G. E. Bean, who published the materials reused in the village cemetery. The Yanıktaş sanctuary located about 2 km. northwest of the village was identified by Özsait during his longitudinal surveys across the region and was evaluated in his publications.

The stele of yellowish grey limestone measures 31 cm. wide and 32 cm. tall. On its front side is the figural scene in high relief placed within a naiskos, which has a triangular pediment supported by somewhat-Doric piers (Fig. 2). The high pediment is framed with a moulding. The recessed tympanum features the head of Medusa in the middle (Fig. 2, 6).

The scene is composed of two human figures depicted frontally (Fig. 2). Between them is the Cerberus given as an attribute (Fig. 2, 4). On the right is a seated figure of a bearded male. He is dressed with a mantle over chiton and holding a sceptre with his left hand; his right hand is resting on the head of Cerberus. The figure’s left leg carries his weight, and he is depicted with long hair (Fig. 4). On the left is a female figure standing (Fig. 2, 5). Her left leg carries her weight while the right leg is slightly bent at the knee and stretched backward. She carries a high polos-kalathos-type headgear over her hair which is tied in a bun. Her veil hangs from her head down to her knees. Over her chiton is a diagonal himation fastened on the left shoulder (Fig. 5).

The seated male figure conforms to the iconography of Hades, Plouton and Sarapis with his attributes of the sceptre of dominion and Cerberus. This is the type of Sarapis Alexandria, which was frequently used for Hades Plouton outside Alexandria. A beautiful example is found at Pamukkale Museum: the freestanding figure from the Hierapolis theatre dated to the Severan period (Fig. 7). Particularly the motion of the mantle on the lap and the way it is fastened on the left shoulder is the same as the example from Keçili (Figs. 4, 7).

Although the Keçili example conforms to the Sarapis Alexandria cultic depictions, the coiffure, the composition of the costume and absence of headgear indicate a depiction closer to Hades Plouton (Figs. 4, 7). The same is also valid for the female figure. The long chiton and diagonal himation, high polos on the head, and long veil or mantle do not conform to any depiction of Isis but rather repeats that of Persephone/Kore (Fig. 5). Furthermore, lack of any attributes indicating Isis supports her identification as Kore.

The careful local style observed on the Keçili stele suggests its production at Pisidian workshops. The closest parallel is found in two pieces embedded in the wall of an old house again at Keçili (Fig. 8). In spite of similarity in composition, this example differs from the example presented here with respect to some details such as the lack of a pediment over the naiskos and the male figure wearing a kalathos.

Depictions on coins are of importance for the identification and dating of the Keçili stele as a reflection of seasonally changing cults in the region. Plouton types are found on the coins of Sagalassos, Olbasa, Cremna, Amblada and Seleucia Pieria from the 2nd and 3rd centuries A.D. Plouton is depicted usually enthroned, holding a sceptre of dominion or ear of wheat and the other hand on Cerberus. On the other hand, Sarapis is usually depicted as a head on the coins. It is seen as an Alexandria type at Adada, while he is depicted standing on a coin of Caracalla from Pogla. Depictions of Isis are usually busts or heads, and only at Apollonia is she given together with Sarapis and Harpocrates. On each example Sarapis wears a kalathos, thus moving away from the Keçili stele.

Plouton/Kore and/or Sarapis/Isis are frequently encountered in the inscriptions or coins in Pisidia, especially in southwest Pisidia during the 2nd-3rd centuries A.D. The best example is two inscriptions on Plouton-Kore worship from near the find-spot of the stele. It is observed that for Plouton and Sarapis the common type preferred is Sarapis Alexandria and that their chthonic aspects bringing fertility to the soil were venerated. Plouton is especially rendered in Alexandria type almost each time but differentiating himself from Sarapis through his coiffure and lack of headgear. On the other hand, Sarapis is seen sometimes standing or sometimes together with Isis and Harpocrates, and he always wears his high kalathos. Isis can be identified with her typical attributes such as horn, sun disk, crescent, lotus or cornucopia. In this context the Keçili stele does not conform to the depictions of Sarapis and Isis in Pisidia and approaches more to Plouton-Kore with its coiffure, costume arrangement and attributes. The closest parallel stele from Keçili also differs because it has a less careful rendering, and it is closer to various deity and heros depictions of the 3rd century AD in rock reliefs at Yanıktaş (Fig. 8).

The sanctuary located northwest of Keçili was dedicated to Plouton-Kore as is clearly understood from the inscriptions and it probably came into use during the Hellenistic period. The subterranean chamber inside the temple is a perfect example for a chthonic cult, and similar chambers are known from other Demeter-Persephone sanctuaries in other regions. The niched phase of the sanctuary is dated to the 2nd century A.D. The Keçili stele differs from other votive stelae and reliefs in the region because of its high quality and detailed workmanship. The Kore figure features a ratio of 1/6.5 for head/body while Plouton is rendered bigger (Fig. 1). The faces are given a roundish ovoid. The rock reliefs at Yanıktaş and the other stele from Keçili feature local workshops, frozen motion, drapes of cloth that are linear and hard, and head/ body ratios under 1/5. Thus they differ the from the stele presented here, and they should be dated later. These examples are dated to the 2nd-3rd centuries A.D in publications, but their rendering favours the third century. The high-quality workmanship, naturalistic look, hair in anastole style, drapes reflecting the motion and faces almost round observed on the Plouton- Kore stele suggest, on the other hand, the mid-2nd century A.D. This dating also conforms to the inscription from Plouton-Kore sanctuary at Kaynarkale and probably indicates a rise in the cult during this period.

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