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A Byzantine Hospital Building at Side?
Semavi EYİCE*

The city of Side, known as "Old Antalya" amongst the locals, was not only a port in Roman times but was also one of the important religions centers of Pamphylia in the Byxantine period. The surviving building remains and ancient church sources present indubitable proof of the importance of Side. The town began to lose its importance following the Arab raids and the spread of Islam in the Eastern Mediterranean. Although the town became a focus of interest for western pilgrims, travelers and scholars, the structure investigated in the present article is not mentioned in any guidebook or scientific publication. This structure is located behind the ancient theatre, and is marked as (ii) on the plan. In close proximity is the basilica with five aisles elated to 576, the largest at Side, a column capital carved with wind blown acanthus leaves, the Bishop's Palace; and the remains of another church originally covered with a dome.

The structure in question is a rectangular building on two floors, built from irregular ashlar masonry and natural lime mortar. The arches were constructed, of finer cut blocks. The ground floor contains four chambers, extending parallel to each other, each of which is divided into three sections by arches resting on columns. Each section has access to the other through the arcades. The same architectural form is repeated on the upper floor. Based on the remains on the west side of the structure, it can be suggested that both floors communicated with each other via a staircase or a ramp. It is not possible to comment on the existence or otherwise of a basement.

The top of the structure is paved with mosaics, which show this area was used as a terrace. Taking into consideration the winter rainfall in Side, it seems reasonable to suggest that this terrace was originally covered by a slight lean-to roof to provide shelter from the elements.

This building was constructed in the Byzantine period. There is however, no evidence to suggest a religious function for this building. Procopius records that a hospital, dedicated to St. Cosmas, was built in Pamphylia during the reign of the Emperor s Justinian f. although he does not provide any information as to its whereabouts. The structure here examined in detail is thought to be the 6th century hospital mentioned by Procopius, in part due to its situation, close to the Bishop's Palace at the center of the Bishopric and also for architectural reasons.

*Prof. Dr. Semavi Eyice, Yazmacı Tahir Sok. No:28/5 Bostancı - İstanbul.

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