Lycia is a Greco-Roman geopolitical region that encompasses the modern day Fethiye to Antalya regions of Turkey. Their history dates all the way back to the 15-14th century BC. So obviously, we’ll be visiting a lot of Lycian ruins while staying in the area.
Both ruins we visited today, Xanthos and Letoon are examples of a Lycian city and religious center, respectively, and both are UNESCO World Heritage Sites.
There are several versions of the mythology of the nymph Leto. One is that she escaped with the twins – Apollo and Artemis, and hid here from Zeus’ jealous wife, Hera. When she tried to drink from the springs to quench her thirst, the shepherds chased her away, so she turned them into frogs in retaliation (you see turtles and frogs in the natural springs on the site).
Other significant findings include the trilingual stele that is currently housed in the Fethiye Museum, which we’re going to check out later this week.
Some stone carvings around the site…
Xanthos was unfortunately plundered by the British in the 1800s, and the best pieces are on display in the British Museum. Joe and I both agreed that the Brits most likely inadvertently rescued and preserved the pieces for the Turks. However, it’s time that they return these treasures back to their native countries (I say countries because it wasn’t just Turkey that they took treasures from) where they belong, and allow their own people to celebrate their history and culture. Plus it’s harder to appreciate something out of context (i.e., in a cold museum).
Of the things that are left in Xanthos include the pillar tombs, one of which is the Harpy Tomb.
Lycian written inscriptions in stone date back to the Iron Age. The language unfortunately became extinct in the early 1st century BC, and was replaced by the Ancient Greek language.
Yesterday we were introduced to the Lycian written language by Ibrahim, the stone sculptor at Tlos, but the inscriptions we saw were very faint. Today we got to see a better example of the Lycian writing.
Apparently this is a Trilingual stele – Ancient Greek, Lycian, and Milyan. I can’t tell you what is what as I stood under the obelisk, circling around it, for a long time trying to tell the difference. At one point I thought I saw Chinese, (王) as in King. It’s all Lycian to me.
There are 12 lines on the North side of the stele that are written in Ancient Greek. Unfortunately, it is the only side of the stele I didn’t take a picture of.