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The Evaluation of the Motifs and Styles of the Architectural Sculpture of the Byzantine Age in Antalya and Lycia

The surveys conducted by the author since 1998 on 'The Byzantine Stonework in Antalya and Lycia' have documented the in situ, broken or spolia materials in the Byzantine settlements and structures, which have not been excavated. A total of 348 pieces of architectural sculpture of the Byzantine Age have been examined at 43 settlements in the region, as well as those at Antalya Kaleiçi and the Antalya Archaeological Museum.

Lycia covers the Mediterranean coasts from the city of Antalya to Fethiye in the west and includes Korkuteli by the Phrygian border and the Taurus Mountains in the north. The study covered the sculptures identified in the following sites: in Rhodiapolis, Cormi, Acalissus, Idebessus, Melanippe, Gagae, Kumluca and the Finike Cumhuriyet Park in eastern Lycia; in Muskar, Alakilise, Alacahisar and in the Eastern and Western Churches of Karabel between Demre and Çağman in central Lyciaas well as those in the churches in Devekuyusu, Çağman and the Güceymen Hill and in the Çamarkası Church; in the church in the locality Armutalan - Gökçeköristan in Upper Beymelek near Demre, the chapel in Beymelek, the basilica in Gürses on the Demre - Kaş highway, in Apollonia, Dolichiste (Kekova Island), Arnae and the harbour city of Aperlae; and in Pınara, Sydima, Balbura and Bubon in western Lycia. All these finds have been documented as well as those identified in Kaleiçi and the Cumanun Mosque and those brought from the region to the Antalya Archaeological Museum - excluding the excavation finds.

This study focuses on a group of works selected from among the sculptures of the Lycian region that will enlighten the period between the 7th and 12th centuries. Certain motifs on the works documented in the mountain settlements and harbour cities of Lycia were produced in a stylistic unity that pertains to the region. It can be observed that the styles and motifs peculiar to Lycia are in unity with the techniques that were taken from the capital such as open-works, reliefs and incisions. It is, however, quite difficult to limit forms, styles, motifs, compositions and decoration techniques, which constitute important criteria for dating efforts, within certain centuries. It occurs that a motif used in the early period is continued to be used also in the Middle Byzantine Period. Our study has shown that certain motifs of the Lycian region were also very popular outside Anatolia, especially along the Mediterranean coast. One such motif is the ear of wheat. This motif, which is found on the examples from the churches of Alakilise, Alacahisar, St. Nicholas, Dereağzı and the Episcopal Church in Limyra as well as the churches in Aperlae and Melanippe and at the examples in the Antalya Archaeological Museum, is dated in publications mostly to the 6th - 7th century, but it can be found in minor arts also later.

ne motif that was characteristic of the Mediterranean coasts was the flower motif with four pointed leaves composed from intersecting circles. This motif can be dated to the period between the 6th and 12th centuries. There are variations, which are perforated or where the space between the flowers is either empty or filled with pearl motifs. This motif was found in Aperlae, Arneae and the St. Nicholas Church. The diamond motif constituting another group was found on stone elements on the coasts and islands of the Mediterranean between the 6th and 12th centuries; therefore, it is difficult to propose a clear dating. Lycian examples from Lycia that belong to the 6th - 10th centuries have been found in the churches of Muskar, Alacahisar, Alakilise, Melanippe, Dereağzı and St. Nicholas. The use of the concentric circles, which have been observed on the stone elements of the St. Nicholas Church, the Antalya Archaeological Museum and Kaleiçi, starts in the 4th century and increases between the 6th and 8th centuries. Beyond these, motifs such as palmettes, half-palmettes and acanthuses among scrolled branches are observed in Lycia and the Mediterranean under the influence of the capital almost in every century. The stylistic characteristics of the shape of the leaf motif are definitive in the dating of these works. The concave shape of the leaves in both motifs is observed from the 9th century on and most frequently between the 11th and 12th centuries. The examples from the Cumhuriyet Parkı in Finike, Gökçeköristan, the churches of St. Nicholas and Dereağzı and from Antalya Kaleiçi can be limited between the 9th and 12th centuries. The arcade composition, which has been documented in the St. Nicholas Church, on the spolia in Kaleiçi and in the Antalya Archaeological Museum and which has been used as of the 9th century rather on architraves and plaques under the influence of Konstantinopolis, depicts in the arch sequences on bases or columns plant decorations such as palmettes or flowers with round or pointed leaves or figures such as Jesus Christ, the saints or the Deesis. Another group among the compositions unique to the Middle Byzantine Period is the decoration with geometric motifs such as interlocking circles, squares and rhombuses. Within these geometric shapes are vegetal motifs, figures and symbolic motifs such as crosses.

These compositions can be observed on the works in Arneae, Alacahisar, Alakilise, the St. Nicholas Church and the Antalya Archaeological Museum. Another decoration technique that is characteristic of the Middle Byzantine Period is the cavities drilled between interlocking strips, circles and vegetal motifs. The drill, which was used in the Early Period to carve the motifs with the utmost care and skill with the openwork technique, was used in the Middle Byzantine Period rather unskillfully, carving only one cavity between the motifs due to the change in fashion and economic conditions. Examples of this technique are frequently found on the elements in the Dereağzı Church, the St. Nicholas Church and the Antalya Archaeological Museum.

In determining the date of these examples from Lycia, not only the motifs and compositions, but also the style, ornamentation techniques and even the size of certain elements have been important criteria. Taking into account that only few examples dating to the 7th and 8th centuries are examined in publications, it is possible to discuss the problems related to the dating of this period in the light of recent studies and the excavations and researches related to the Middle Ages. The identified development of motifs in Lycia as of the 6th century has presented new propositions in regard to dating and possibilities of repairing and renovating especially the liturgical elements of buildings with a religious function. As most of the Lycian buildings are destroyed and the works are concealed under the fallen building elements, the author hopes that the documentation and evaluation of the surface findings will facilitate the efforts in this field.

*Assoc. Prof. Dr. Sema Alpaslan, Hacettepe University, Faculty of Letters, Department of Art History, Ankara.

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