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Lycia :: Sidyma

Sidyma

The ruins of Sidyma are near the village of Dodurga, which is reached from the Fethiye-Kas road by driving down the side road that turns off from Esen for a distance of about 17 kilometers. If you continue from here, you will reach the ruined remains of Sidyma in the Asar district of the village.

The form of the name Sidyma (like Idyma, Didyma and Loryma) is proof enough of a high antiquity for the city. There is in fact some evidence on the site itself for occupation at least in the early classical period; but the first literary reference is not before the lst centmy B.C., and the bulk of the ruins, and all the inscriptions are of the Roman Imperial Age. There exists, however, a silver coin of Lycian League type, apparently of Sidyma, which dates probably to the 2nd century B.C. The city continues to be listed by the geographers down to Byzantine times, but only a single historical account is recorded here.

Emperor Mardan (450-457 A.D.), at the time a simple soldier on a campaign against the Persians, fell sick on the way through Lyda and was left behind in Sidyrna. There he was befriended by two brothers who took him into their home and nursed him; and one day, when he was recovered, they took him hunting with them. At midday, hot and tired, they lay down to sleep. One of the brothers, waking before his companions, was astonished to see that Mardan was sleeping in the sun and that an enormous eagle had settled on him and was shading him with its outstretched wings. When all were awake, the brothers asked Marcian, "If you become emperor, what favor will you grant us!" Marcian replied, "In that unlikely event I will make you Fathers of your city. When he did in fact succeed to the purple on the death of Theodosius II, he remembered his promise and, going one better, appointed the brothers to high office in Lycia.

The acropolis hill, in two parts, lies on the north; along its south-east foot runs a stretch of early wall some 365 meters long and up to 3 meters high in places. The masonry is mostly regular ashlar, but polygonal at the east end, and at one point is a small gate with a forecourt and flanking tower. This wall provides the second piece of material evidence for an early city of Sidyma, set on the hill above.

Remarkably enough, no trace of this early city has survived on the hill; there are some walls, cisterns, and shards, but they are all of the Byzantine Age. There is, however, a little above the early wall a small theater or theater-like building, very badly preserved with six rows of seats partially visible at the back, but anything else which may have survived was buried under the earth and stones that have slipped down the hillside.

The city center, which is also the village center, lies at the west end of the site. There were once the remains of a temple and stoa here which were sufficient to permit a reconstruction on paper. The back wall of the stoa is still recognizable, but not much of the temple can now be made out. It was quite small, about 9 meters in length, with steps and four columns on the west front, and was dedicated. 'to the Savior Gods the Emperors'. Part of the inscription of the stoa was also found, with a dedication to Emperor Claudius (41-54 A.D.), Artemis, and other deities.

A modern-day village Koran school is situated on the site of an ancient bath, the aqueduct leading to this building can be seen in the vicinity. Also seen in the village are the ruins of a church. A Lycian tomb can be seen in the garden of a village house to the north of the village, surmounted by typical triglyphs and metopes. Not far from this is the Roman necropolis of the ancient settlement, containing a number of tombstones ornamented with reliefs and inscriptions.

Nearby is a row of sarcophagi, two of which especially catch the eye. They are identical in form and size and rest on a common base. Like the others in Sidyma they have a gable-shaped roof, with acroteria at the lower corners. The badly weathered inscriptions show that, as would be expected, the two tombs belong to members of the same family, apparently father and son, both bearing the name Aristodemus, which seems to have regularly repeated in the family.

A short distance to the south-west is a conspicuous building that still stands nine meters high. It rests on a low substructure which originally formed the base of a large built tomb, but the building itself is of much later date and contains many re-used blocks, some inscribed. There are a number of tombs of various types scattered along the valley in groups.

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