Sculptures of Roman emperors found in Turkey

Archaeologists excavating the ancient Lycian city of Tlos on the Mediterranean in southwestern Turkey have uncovered five almost intact Roman-era marble statues. Three of them are of Roman emperors Hadrian, Antonius Pius and Marcus Aurelius. The two are of women, one probably Faustina Minor, daughter of Antonius Pius and wife of Marcus Aurelius, and the other of a goddess, possibly Isis. They are missing some hands and arms, and the statue of the goddess has no face, but other than that they are whole and unbroken, a very rare thing indeed.

While I was looking for more detailed pictures of the find, I encountered this blog entry, both charming and unnerving, written by someone on the scene. They read about the find in the above article.

We assumed the statues would be whisked away to Istanbul, Ankara or at best, Antalya Archaeological Museum – but, thanks to Twitter, we saw one of the Turkish language newspapers had reported the statues had been taken to Fethiye Museum. Often overlooked by visitors to Fethiye, the museum finally has in its possession a bit of a draw in the recently discovered statues.

We went up there yesterday to see if we could see them, expecting them to be packed away somewhere, not for public viewing just yet. But, maybe we got there at the perfect time and the museum hasn’t decided what to do with the statues yet because there they were, greeting us at the gate.

They’re just hanging out there. Right inside a gate a 5-year-old could scale easily. It’s fantastic that locals have such access to their ancient heritage, but security-wise and conservation-wise, they should probably be indoors somewhere behind lock and key. I’m sure (okay, I’m not, but I hope) they’ll be moved soon. Meanwhile, we get the benefit of these great pictures.

Tlos is thought to be the most ancient and largest of Lycian cities. In Greek mythology, the hero Bellerophon, grandson of Sisyphyus, slayer of the Chimera, lived in Tlos along with his famed flying steed Pegasus. The Romans dubbed it “the most splendid metropolis of the Lycian nation” and it’s one of the few Lycian cities to have remained inhabited through the Byzantine and Ottoman periods. The remains of an Ottoman fortress perched on a hill above the ancient acropolis were used into the 19th century, most notoriously by local chieftain/brigand/king of thieves Kanli Ali Aga, aka Bloody Ali.

The excavation that unearthed the statues has found evidence of Tlos’ past going back 10,500.

11 thoughts on “Sculptures of Roman emperors found in Turkey

  1. Amazing photos! The Roman Emperors (and their girlfriend) look like they are standing around waiting to catch a bus. By the way – referring back to our exchange a couple of weeks ago, before my trip to Sicily – I never did make it to the museum in Aidone to see the ex-Getty Venus (although there were brochures, in English, encouraging us to do so, every place we looked). My brother and I lost a good deal of time getting from Enna to the Roman Villa at Piazza Armerina due to massive road work. Then, once we arrived at the Roman Villa, we were thrown off mission by a paparazzo coup. Vittorio Sgarbi was knocking around the site with a coterie of kindred spirits. Not only did VS not mind us invading his (ha-ha!) “privacy”, he was smiling, posing and doing the Sgarbi thing for our camera (as if we mattered, which we don’t.) NOTE: For those of you who don’t live in Sgarbiland, just imagine the illicit love child of Sir Kenneth Clark and Paris Hilton.

  2. ‘It’s fantastic that locals have such access to their ancient heritage’?

    Haha. These aren’t he descendants, these are the new tenants!

  3. Hmmm?! Maybe or maybe not…looking at the extant gene pool (which is always complicated and open to debate.)The Etruscans were basically Lycians and Turkey is the country with the strongest Etruscan/Lycian trace in the present-day gene pool – far more than Italy (even in regions in the former territory of Etruria). And no one would ever think to question the Etruscan connection with acquired Greek and Roman culture in Italy. Continuity of heritage is very much a question of perception – not to mention politics and historical rewriting after the fact! And perceptions change with time…
    We can all think of lots of examples, beginning with our views of Native American culture in the United States!

  4. Sorry, but that “museum” looks like the local drive-up convenience store in my neighborhood. 😮 Or maybe gardening pottery shop.

  5. @Eman Nona – Are you really trying to insinuate that every inhabitant of the immense Anatolian landmass is an immigrant? Surely a logistical impossibility! Mr. Goldberg’s comments are spot on…

    Also we can look to Virgil to fill you us in on whom the most noble of Roman familied believed their descendants arrived from. If they didn’t have a problem with it, why should anyone else?

    Kind Regards

  6. @ Grrr: We’re the people who did the blog post about the statues. In defence of the museum, it’s very neat and organised but it is very small. They had only taken delivery of the statues the evening before. We were there the following morning. It’s fantastic that someone in their wisdom decided to keep them local. As to whether the statues are still waiting at the gates or not… 😉

  7. ya ya ya ya kimse derdimi anlamıyor ben ne diyom onlar ne diyor :angry: :angry: :no: :no: 😥 😥 😥 😥 😥 😥 🙁 🙁 🙁 🙁 :(artık bıktım yapmıyacam ödeviya öldüm yeter arıyom arıyom çıkmıya ya

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