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Eine frühbyzantinische Kirche beim pisidischen Pednelissos und ihre kaiserzeitlichen Spolien
Eric Laufer – Johannes Lipps
The ancient city of Pednelissos is situated north of the Pamphylian coastal plain in the foothills of the Pisidian Mountains. In the early Byzantine period, the site shows the usual characteristics known from other cities in the region. In this, the sheer number of churches or churchlike buildings, even in smaller cities, is always remarkable.

In 2003, four large basilicas as well as two smaller churches were documented in the urban area and the immediate environs of the city. A further church had been identified in 1921 by an Italian team under the direction of Giuseppe Moretti who published a brief description as well as a ground plan. Ever since, this plan has been the subject of discussion because of the sheer size of the apse of the church. Most recently, it was attributed to the middle Byzantine period. It was not until 2004 that this particular church could be identified beneath the dense vegetation of the area south of the city. A road, framed by an imperial necropolis, ran south-east from the Roman lower city towards this church. It appears likely, that the church was connected to this road network in some way, but it clearly was not situated at an important crossroads or communication node. Today, only the foundations of the structure can be identified beneath a thick vegetation cover. Seismic activity and related shifts in the slope have caused the walls of the entire building to shift, in the southern part significantly so. The state of preservation suggests that the church, once it had been abandoned, was subject to targeted stone robbing. As part of this project, the remaining walls, as well as individual remaining architectural remains, were documented by drawings and photographs. This provides a basis for a reassessment and modifications of both the ground plan and key stages of the developmental history of the structure.

The structure had a ground plan in the form of an extended rectangle of c. 27x13 m. This makes it the largest sacral complex of the city after the three large early Byzantine basilicas 1, 4 and 5. Narthex and Naos were accessed by three respective passages; the apse is oriented towards the north-east. Two cruciform piers, 1.3m in width, survive in the Naos. We were furthermore able to trace the walls of a separate room attached to the north corner of the structure.

Both ground plan and differing construction techniques indicate that construction of the church occurred in at least two stages. The apse and most walls of the Naos were built as drystone walls with a rubble core and dressed facing stones. In places, they were constructed using spolia. Throughout the whole structure, walls in this technique are preserved in a very poor state. Some of the corners, as well as the two cruciform piers, on the other hand, were constructed using mortar. These walls remain standing to a height of 1.7 m. and constitute the best-preserved parts of the building. In contrast to the remainder of the walls, the cruciform piers were constructed using roughly hewn ashlars.

Whether the different construction techniques are evidence of two separate construction phases or occurred as two stages of one buildings process, for example in order to strengthen supporting parts of the structure with mortared and other building materials, cannot be identified with certainty.

In view of the proportions of the building, it can be assumed to have been a three-naved basilica, similar in plan to the other large churches in Pednelissos. This is a characteristic type of sacral structure for the region in the early Byzantine period. The roof would most likely have been of a traditional basilica type. This highlights the crossing, which is often reflected in the roof structure. A parallel may be found in the reconstructed timber crossing turret of the Cumanın Camii, which dates to the late 5th or 6th century AD. This, as well as the similarities to the other churches of Pednelissos, suggests that the building in questions dates to the early Byzantine period.

The church includes reused structural elements, as well as architectural elements that were specially made for the building. The cruciform piers, for example, appear to belong together with four imperial architrave-blocks made from local limestone. Originally, these elements would have been part of a building constructed in the Severan era; they were reused for the construction of the church. The architrave blocks were found near the cruciform piers and correspond with ledges on these pillars in both length and width. As such, it seems plausible to suggest that they originally formed part of their cornice.

In the Narthex, between the central passages leading to the main part of the church, we were able to record monolithic columns as well as a ridge stone that must originally have belonged to a Severan monument. Based on its current position, it appears likely that the ridge stone would originally have been placed in a central position above the main entrance. The architrave blocks and the ridge stone all dated to the same period and were all reused as spolia in the church. As such it appears likely that they originally belonged to one and the same building in the vicinity, perhaps a funerary monument from the neighbouring necropolis.

Only isolated decorated architectural fragments of the early Byzantine church remain. Most important amongst these is a slab of the right banister of an Ambo decorated with a large Latin cross with fan-shaped arms as well as trifold profiling. The ambo is of a type with a rising handrail on the banister that is common across Asia Minor.

As such, the structure studied clearly fits into the canon of church architecture known from the city and the region. While the building was rather plain for the most part, prominent sections such as the central entrance and the pillars supporting the main nave were decorated with richly ornamented spolia from the Severan period. In addition, it was possible to document a contemporary set of architectural elements that would have been required for liturgical purposes.

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