Archaeology Travel, Asia Minor, Pamphylia, Photography, Turkey

Exploring Seleukeia (Lyrbe) – images from a forgotten city in Pamphylia

The ancient city of Seleukeia (or Lyrbe) is located 15 km north of Manavgat and was only rediscovered by archaeologists in the early 1970s. The city is known to have been founded as a fortified acropolis town to be used as a final defence and protection site in the case of an attack on Side. Upon the capture of Side by pirates in the 2nd century BC, a number of people immigrated to Seleukeia. Based on epigraphy, it is assumed that the former city of Lyrbe had a long history, dating back to the Hellenistic period, 330-30 BC.

General view of the Agora, Seleukeia (Lyrbe) © Carole Raddato

The ancient city was founded around 300 BC by Seleucus I Nicator (“Seleucus the Victor”), one of the generals of Alexander the Great, who established the Seleucid Kingdom. The kingdom expanded to include Anatolia’s western shores. In Anatolia, five cities were founded in the name of Seleucus I Nicator, and Seleukeia (or Seleucia) means “the land of Seleucus”.

Sadly, Seleukeia is not frequently visited as the site is difficult to access and is rarely mentioned in tourist guides. The way is a little adventurous and ends with a dirt road through the forest. However, it is quite a unique place. You don’t get to see an agora so well preserved very often! Not surprisingly, we had the place totally to ourselves.

Entering the site, the nine-metre-high city walls of the city attract attention right away.

The city gate, Seleukeia (Lyrbe) © Carole Raddato

The most impressive surviving section is the two-storey Agora (marketplace) with Doric columns still in place.

View of the two-storey Agora, Seleukeia (Lyrbe) © Carole Raddato

The row of stores surrounding the Agora is well preserved.

The two-storey row of shops in the Agora, Seleukeia (Lyrbe) © Carole Raddato
The Doric Stoa and a two-storey row of shops, Agora, Seleukeia (Lyrbe) © Carole Raddato
The north gate of the Agora and the Exedra, Seleukeia (Lyrbe) © Carole Raddato
The gallery storage below the Agora, Seleukeia (Lyrbe) © Carole Raddato

In the southeastern part of the Agora is the Odeon or bouleuterion with six rows of seats where, in addition to music concerts, the meetings of the administrative council of the city were held.

The Odeon in the southeastern part of the Agora, Seleukeia (Lyrbe) © Carole Raddato

In the north of the Agora, 20 meters ahead, are the remains of a well-preserved small podium temple with a former four-columned pronaos and a single cella.

Small podium temple, Seleukeia (Lyrbe) © Carole Raddato
Small podium temple, Seleukeia (Lyrbe) © Carole Raddato

Due to a lack of resources and information on-site, some buildings were difficult to identify.

Seleukeia (Lyrbe) © Carole Raddato
Seleukeia (Lyrbe) © Carole Raddato
Remains of an aqueduct, Seleukeia (Lyrbe) © Carole Raddato
Mosaic in-situ, Seleukeia (Lyrbe) © Carole Raddato

The archaeological finds, some of which can be admired in the Museum of Antalya, indicate a peak in the first and 2nd century AD. A large mosaic decorated with the portraits of Solon, Thucydides, Lycurgus, Herodotus, Hesiod and Demosthenes was discovered among the finds unearthed between 1978 and 1979 in Seleukeia.

Portrait of Thucydides from Seleukeia, Antalya Museum © Carole Raddato
Aqueduct near Seleukeia (Lyrbe) © Carole Raddato

Further photos from Seleukeia can be viewed from my image collection on Flickr.

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