Mysterious ancient Lycian tombs continue to amaze archaeologists

(ORDO NEWS) –Carved into the rocks, the huge structures look like entrances to countless temples, but are actually the ornate fa├žades of ancient Lycian tombs found in western Anatolia, Asia Minor (modern-day Turkey) and the eastern Greek islands.

These are the most numerous of all types of Lycian tombs, and some of the most striking burial chambers, carved directly into the rock.

They have Greek and Persian elements, as well as elements of Lycian styles.

Lycia had contact with the Greek world and was under Persian control for many years during the centuries BC. e.

The most elaborate rock-cut tombs are those carved in the form of Ionic temples, the largest and most famous in Telmessos (Fethiye) being the “Tomb of Amyntas”.

These temple-type rock-cut tombs usually have two columns (the tomb at Qianei has only one), the epistyle and the pediment usually have complex reliefs, such as the “Royal Tomb at Pinar” and the “Painted Tomb at Myra”.

This temple style of the tomb is not specifically Lycian and can also be seen in Kaunos (some impressive examples are found in the city of Dalyan) and other parts of Anatolia.

The Lycians believed that the dead were carried to the afterlife by winged beings like sirens, and thus highly revered people were buried in high places such as rocks to give them a “higher” position and bring them closer to “heaven”.

From the 4th century onwards, many of the many entrances are adorned with tall classical Greek columns and intricate reliefs that have been dulled by centuries of weathering. Old tombs are often barely visible holes carved into the rock. They were built for royalty.

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Despite outward grandeur, the interior of the tombs, which are small chambers carved into the rock with a monolith inside, show the body and rooms, otherwise empty niches from hundreds of years of looting are visible.

All Anatolian cultures built stunning monumental tombs associated with some form of ancestor worship. The Lycians developed this art form to perfection, aided no doubt by the soft limestone in the region.

The quality of the masonry of the Lycian people deserves attention and is especially important in the construction of tombs.

Mysterious ancient Lycian tombs continue to amaze archaeologists 3

Today, the entire landscape of Lycia is still dotted with fascinating funerary monuments. One thousand and eighty-five tombs remained intact.

Mysterious ancient Lycian tombs continue to amaze archaeologists 4

The Lycian language died out and was replaced by ancient Greek around 200 BC. One thing that distinguishes Lycian tombs from the Hellenistic tradition is that while in Hellenistic culture the dead were placed outside habitable areas, Lycian tombs were often built right in cities, demonstrating Lycian ties to Eastern traditions.

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Rock-cut tombs are not the only ones in Lycia, as they have been found elsewhere in the Mediterranean, in the Palestinian and Nabataean regions, Cyrenaica, eastern Anatolian Urartu, in the Kurdish border zone between Iran and Iraq, in the vicinity of Persepolis in Persepolis, in Saudi Arabia Hegra and in the Egyptian Beni Hasan.

All these places have one thing in common: geography, since this type of tomb is usually found in landscapes with deep ravines and steep cliffs.

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