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An East Lycian City: Idebessos
İsa KIZGUT* - Süleyman BULUT** - Nevzat ÇEVİK***

Traveling Lycia in the spring of 1842, Spratt and Forbes visited Idebessos on April 4th. The first publication on the inscriptions at the site was made by Kalinka in 1944. In 1958, F. Stark’s voyage evaluation and Bean’s evaluation on the ruins and history were followed by a brief visit to the site by C. Bayburtluoğlu. Hellenkemper and Hild also studied Idebessos within the context of their rapid survey in the region. N. Çevik made his first observations on the site in 2000 and 2008. Our team surveyed the settlement covering all the ruins in detail and now presents the overall results herewith.
Idebessos is mentioned as a city of Lycia in the dictionary written by Stephanus but Hierocles spelled its name wrongly as Ilebessos. Despite the lack of information regarding the meaning and origin of the city’s name, the suffix –ss- in the name suggests an earlier settlement than the ruins now visible. In Lycian language it was probably Idãb. “It originates from Itei, a woman’s name, and maxzza and transforms into Idamaxzza”. Neumann also states that it was possibly related to a personal name. It is controversial that the Classical period coin with the name Ite, of the Persians, may belong to Idebessos. No other settlement name starting with Ite is known to date in the region. Ramsay made some comments on the name of Idebessos: “The chief of the Pisidian priests known as ‘wolves’ was called ‘head-wolf’ Edagdabos (archigallos). Archi in Greek corresponded to Ida, Ido or Ede in Anatolia. ‘Mount Ida’, thus, was the head-mountain or the highest mountain. Idomeneus was the long-spelled version of Ida used in metrical poetry. Meno or mene was the common name of the priest dynasty in Anatolia. Another settlement name originating from this root was probably Idebessos in Lycia.” The fact that Pisidian artistic tradition of Idebessos is stronger than that of Lycia makes the comment of Ramsay sound ordinary while the presence of Kızlarsivrisi, the highest peak behind the city, makes it natural to comprehend that the city was named after a head-mountain. Thus, the name of the city Idebessos most likely originated from the highest mountain rising behind her.
Earliest historical record of the city dates to the period of the Lycian League. The city was a member of the League from the beginning. A Hellenistic inscription discovered during our surveys and some walls are remains indicating the presence of a settlement during this period. Inscriptions compiled show that the settlement was a polis and that she was a member of a sympoliteia of three cities including Akalissos and Kormos and led by Akalissos, and this sympoliteia was represented with a single vote in the League during the Roman period. After the Roman period the city assumed the name Edebessos and in the Christian period she was a bishopric called as Lebissos or Lemissos within the metropolis of Myra.
Idebessos bears importance for its location on the route connecting the coastal towns with the mountain settlements in the north of East Lycia. She is one of the 50 settlements mentioned on the Milliarium Lyciae uncovered at Patara. The settlements on side C of this monument starts with Idebessos and continues with Akalissos and Korma. The distance between Akalissos and Korma is given as 24 stadia but the distance between Idebessos and Akalissos is not known as that part is broken. The same inscription, later, connects Idebessos to Kithanaura. Although not verified by Miliarium Lyciae, a road connection between Arykanda and Idebessos is naturally expected. F. Stark claimed that “Alexander the Great might have led some of his troops to Phaselis possibly via Arykanda, Idebessos and modern Kesmeboğazı”.
Idebessos, which is a city of East Lycia, is located 7 km north of Akalissos and northwest of Kormos. It is accessed via the forest road leading north from Karacaören-Kozağacı village of Kumluca to Kırkpınar pastures. It is situated at an altitude of 1050 m. on the east slope of Mount Gücüzen on the eastern skirts of Mount Kartal, whose highest peak is the Kızlarsivrisi (3370 m.), which is part of the Masikytos (Akdağlar) (Figs. 1-3). Ak Dere stream flows from Kızlarsivrisi and Üçkuyular, passes 500 m. north of Idebessos and continues on to Karacaören. The main water sources of the settlement must be found in this valley with this stream.
Except for the coin attributed to the city, there exists no evidence for the Classical period and earlier times. Absence of rock-cut tombs further strengthens this point. From what is seen on the surface it is inferred, particularly from the theater, that the city existed in the Hellenistic period, but its dimensions and layout we know nothing about; its richest days were in the Roman period but it was a small city; it was settled through various phases of the Byzantine period for it has three churches and a castrum and the city’s size of the Roman period was more or less preserved. As an East Lycian mountain settlement, its economy depended on the farmland around and mainly the forests. Being located at the crossroads of the routes connecting the mountains to the coastline, it connects to Finike bay via Rhodiapolis, to Elmalı plains via Arykanda and to Attaleia via Kithanaura – Trebenna. It is of the same size as the settlements in the Alakır Valley, like Kormi, Akalissos, Pygale and Madnausa.
Some public structures like baths and theater, whose sizes were dependent on the population size, give us clues about the smallness of the settlement; however, the necropolis reflects the quality, and both its quantity and quality are higher than would be expected. The single vote Idebessos shared with Akalissos and Kormos in the Lycian League verifies this point in political terms. Thus, it was not at the level of other Lycian cities whose autonomies were recognized at the level of a single vote. For the decisions to be taken for the League, Idebessos had to move together with Akalissos and Kormos which further shows her political impotence.
In terms of topology, the settlement and remains display differences but there are also some authentic remains: The church whose pastophoria have triconch layout – unparalleled in Lycia; the high number and quality of U-shaped tombs with exedra; the structure of the plain water canal; and the unique sarcophagus with a statue base on the lid are the most important of the “authentic” remains.
Byzantine pottery is observed extensively on the surface while Roman pottery is less frequent. In addition to pottery, only bronze statuettes have been found. Eight bronze statuettes from illegal digs were confiscated in 1989 and turned over to Antalya Museum; they were published by İ. Delemen. These statuettes include the only equestrian figure with Men as the rider from Lycia (Fig. 38), three Kakasbos-Heracles figures, which are very popular in Lycia, one equestrian figure and three horse figures whose riders are missing. These statuettes are dated to the end of the 2nd through beginning of the 4th centuries A.D. when rider god figures found widespread popularity on the coins. These finds provide us with the only clue regarding the deities worshiped at Idebessos. No reliefs, inscriptions or any building that could be regarded a temple have been attested at the settlement. Indeed the probability is low that such finds would come out in an illegal treasure hunt dig. It may be difficult to learn such details as the items were confiscated. If it is true that these eight statuettes came out from the same pit, then the treasure hunters accidentally excavated a sanctuary for a rider god.
The texts and materials presented in this article contain only a summary of overall evaluation that could be attained from a detailed survey. Final and decisive information regarding the settlement and remains can be obtained only through excavations.

* Yrd. Doç. Dr. İsa Kızgut
Akdeniz Üniversitesi, Edebiyat Fakültesi, Arkeoloji Bölümü, Kampüs 07058 Antalya
E-mail: ikizgut@akdeniz.edu.tr
** Ögr. Gör. Süleyman Bulut
Akdeniz Üniversitesi, Edebiyat Fakültesi, Arkeoloji Bölümü, Kampüs 07058 Antalya
E-mail: sbulut@akdeniz.edu.tr
*** Prof. Dr. Nevzat Çevik
Akdeniz Üniversitesi, Edebiyat Fakültesi, Arkeoloji Bölümü, Kampüs 07058 Antalya
E-mail: ncevik@akdeniz.edu.tr