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The East Bahts at Aperlae

The mountainous territory of Lycia occupies the southwestern portion of Asia Minor. This rugged terrain and Lycia's position along the strategic coastline of one of the ancient world's busiest sea-lanes enabled this corner of ancient Anatolia to be isolated from its neighbors, especially by overland routes. But at the same time Lycia remained in easy contact with distant places and their influences by sea trade. The town of Aperlae, located along the central coast of this region, was a perfect example of this dichotomy of regional isolation and contact through wider patterns of trade.

This article concerns the topic of architectural style as a product of this regional character. According to Farrington, the sources of the typical Roman bath plan in Lycia are to be found not in the neighboring territories of Pamphylia, Pisidia, Caria, or even Ionia. Rather, the closest parallels to the imperial baths of Lycia originated in the late Republican baths in Italy. In his study of the baths of this region, Farrington identifies 32 possible examples and provides detailed analysis of 20 of the better-preserved buildings. There are 9 additional plans of structures that are less well preserved or are based in on previous drawings of buildings that have now totally disappeared. Others are known only through epigraphical evidence including another 22 that mention gymnasia that may or may not be included in bath complexes. In all, Farrington lists 67 possible baths or gymnasia in Lycia. Of this number only one is listed in Aperlae and that was an epigraphical reference to a gymnasium. Farrington appears not to have visited the site, stating that there were "considerable remains at Aperlae, but they are underwater and thus uninvestigated. There are, in fact, two additional baths that can now be added to Farrington's catalog.

The plan of the East Baths at Aperlae closely follows that of the typical Lycian bath defined by Farrington. The building consisted of a range of five parallel rooms organized along an east-west axis with another room in the northeast corner and a cistern in the southeast corner.

There are many more problems still to be addressed and hopefully solved concerning the East Baths. How was it supplied with water in a town without an aqueduct and with only a small cistern? What was the sequence of construction in its various phases of vaulting? Was there a relationship between the East Baths and the early inscription, which mentions a gymnasium in Aperlae? And finally, what was the relationship between the East Baths and the West Baths? Did they operate concurrently or did one replace the other?

*R. L. Vann, School of Architecture, University of Maryland, USA - K. Shedrick, The Madeira School, McLean, VA, USA.
**R. L. Hohlfelder, Department of History, University of Colorado, USA

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