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Claros
ANCIENT CITIES

Claros

Claros is a prophecy center of Colophon, one of the twelve Ionic cities. Claros is built between two cities; it is 13 kilometers south of Colophon and two kilometers north of Notion. The Temple of Apollo here was a very important center of prophecy as in Delphi and Didim. The oldest information about this sacred site goes back to the sixth and seventh centuries B.C. through the Homeric Hymns. A sacred cave near the Claros Temple of Apollo, which was an important place both in the Hellenistic and Roman eras, points to the existence of a Cybele cult in earlier periods here.

Claros’ Apollo sacred side was first discovered by S. Schuchardt. Later, in 1907, Theodore Macridy found a column of a propylon, a monumental entrance building. In 1913, Macridy worked with Charles Picard and together they found the propulon in 1913. At the same time, they found a large exedra.

The excavations were suspended during World War I and were restarted by Louis Robert in 1950 and lasted until 1961. After 27 years, in 1988, Professor Juliette de La Geniere started a series of supervising excavations. In 1988-1989, during systematic cleaning work, archaeologists found structures that had remained under the alluvium.

The propylon located at the beginning of this sacred site, which acted as an entrance to passengers who came by sea, was built in the second half of the second century B.C. The building was built in Doric style and has a square plan and it rises on three crepises (krepis). There are two columns on its northern side. Orthostats, walls, antes and columns bear the names of children who sang hymns to Apollo and the names of delegates who came to ask for advise from the oracle of Apollo.

There are honor monuments related to the ancient cities, governors of Asian states, and leading personalities of the Roman era on the two sides of the sacred road that passes between the propylon and the temple and ends on the eastern side of the temple. On them, there are marks of bronze sculptures of people who owned these monuments.

The Temple of Apollo measuring 26 meters by 46 meters was built in Doric style. The temple in the peripteros plan (6 by 11 meter columns) rises on a fifth crepis. In the cella of the temple (the room of the cult sculpture), there are also sculptures of Apollo, Artemis and Leto. This shows that here, there was also a cult of Apollo’s sister Artemis and their mother Leto. From the fragments that have been found, it seems clear that the 7-8 meter high Apollo sculpture was standing while Artemis and Leto were also standing. The moulages of these monumental sculptures were reorganized on the western side of the temple. The Emperor Hadrian (second century A.D.) completed the peristyle of the temple whose constructed started in the third century B.C.

There is a small temple that belonged to Apollo under this temple that was built in the Archaic period along with an altar. Under the cella part of the temple there was a sacred place whose stone arcs are seen today and in this place, prophecy was not done by a woman named Pythia as at Delphi, but rather by a male oracle. The inscriptions found in Claros provide no information about prophecies, but a number of inscriptions have been found in Bergama, Sivas, Amasya, Kayseri and Konya that record the counsel of Claros’ Apollo. It is also known that a temple was made for Claros Apollo in Sagalassos, one of the cities of Psidia.

The oldest piece of information about the function of the Temple of Apollo in Claros dates back to the time of Alexander the Great. According to the Greek historian Pausanias, in his dream Alexander was told that he would set up a large new city at the base of Mt. Pagos (Kadifekale). After this dream the, king consulted the Apollo oracle at Claros and asked him to interpret the dream for him. He set up the new Smyrna after the oracle gave him the go-ahead to proceed.

In the prona (entrance part) of the temple, there are two stairs on the north and south, and they unite in a corridor made out of blue marble. This corridor stretching along the east-west line is 0.70 meters wide and 2.10 meters high. The wall altar separates into two and leads to underground halls. The adyton (sacred room) where the prophesising was done is formed by two underground halls with arches. It is under the cella which has the cult sculpture. In the eastern hall with arches, there are bands of stone seats. There is also an omphalos made out of blue marble, which was the sacred stone of Apollo. A similar omphalos was found in Delphi.

The oracle and the secretary were sitting in this hall which was like a waiting room. The hall in the west had no other entrance than the door opening to the hall in the east. The oracle could enter here only in dark and in it there was a rectangular well which kept the holy water. After drinking from this water, the oracle would issue his prophecies by singing in the form of a song. Some 27 meters east of the Temple of Apollo, there is an altar measuring nine by 18.45 meters. Between the temple and the altar, there are four rows of blocks that were used to tie about 100 animals. The stone blocks in rectangular shape with an iron ring on top are unique and they provide valuable information about the procedure of sacrificial ceremonies. There is a stelle on the north side of this place where the ceremonies were conducted. The decretum that was found in Claros tells us that these holidays dedicated to Apollo were held every five years. On the north of the Temple of Apollo, there was another smaller temple in Ionic style along with an altar built parallel to the temple of Apollo. At this altar, archaeologists found a sculpture of Artemis that belonged to archaic period, which shows that this smaller temple was built for Artemis.






 
     

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