Ancient city of Kibyra
The ancient city of Kibyra is located in township of Gölhisar on southwestern part of the province of Burdur, at a distance of ca. 110 km from the provincial center. The settlement is situated on hills just to the west of modern town. To the west of the city are broad pasturages and Akdağ mountains while the fertile plain of Gölhisar extends to the east, with the stream Dalaman running through it. The Lake Gölhisar and the Mount Koçaş to the east of the plain presents a wonderful sight from the ancient city. The surroundings of the city was located on the crossroads of Phrygian, Carian, Lycian and Pisidian cultures and of commercial routes running east-west and north-south directions. The modern Gölhisar town is similarly located on the crossroads of southwestern Anatolia, lying in a distance of 110 km. from Denizli at the northwest, 130 km from Antalya at the south and 100 km from Fethiye at the southwest.
While the meaning of Kibyra is not known, it is suggested to be of Luwian origin, the language spoken widely in the western and southwestern Anatolia beginning from the Late Bronze Age, later being converted in Hellenic tongue to its present form. Naming of the region as Kibyratis reflects its political strength. In earlier times, as Herodotus tells, the region was called Kabalia.
We get the information on people living in the region from Strabo. He tells us Kibyrians descended from Lydians and settled in Kabalis and its surroundings. At the beginning of the Hellenistic period Pisidian immigrants from Milias and Termessos moved the settlement to a well-fortified area with a perimeter of 100 stadia (ca. 19 km). Thereupon the new, multilingual (Lydian, Solymian, Greek and Pisidian) and multicultural (Kabalian and Pisidian) city of Kibyra is founded. Though Strabo does not indicate any date for the events, the first settlement seems to have been located on the rocky hills around Lake Gölhisar in modern Uylupınar Village, 18 km away from Kibyra. The remains at those hills go back to Early Iron Age and attest to a continuous occupation, which led to suggest it was the earlier settlement of Kibyrians, who are thought to move to the present city around the 4th and 3rd centuries BC. Strabo tells us the city was strengthened thanks to its powerful justice system and established a tetrapoleis federation with Boubon, Balbura and Oinoanda. Named as Kibyratis the federation granted double voting right to Kibyra while the rest had single each. Tetrapoleis was abolished by the Roman General Murena in 84-83 BC and Kibyra was included in the province of Asia, whereas other partners were annexed to the province of Lycia. Another event where Kibyra was mentioned is the earthquake that occurred in 23 AD. The remarkable damage was mitigated thanks to financial support from Tiberius, wherewith the city started to be called Caesarea Kibyra in honor of the emperor. After another earthquake badly shook the city in 417 AD, buildings couldn’t be repaired extensively as before, partly due to worsening economic conditions. Gradually shrinking, the city seems to have been abandoned in the 8th century and settlers continued to live in Horzum, the present-day Gölhisar.
The main factor defining the form of the settlement is the earthquakes. Two earthquakes among the recorded ones in ancient sources are important, one in 23 A.D. and the other in 417 A.D. The former mostly destroyed the Classical and Hellenistic early city, which was rebuilt under the architectural influence and with the support of the Rome.
Entrance to the site is provided by Savran Gut which starts from the district boundaries today. The ancient road can only easily be followed after the 200 m. inside from the gut till the monumental arch which has taken its latest form by the late Roman period repairs. On both sides of the ancient road are found necropolis area which is mostly composed of sarcophagus.
Beginning from the Monumental Arch that stresses the entrance to the city, public buildings on the main hill, namely Stadion, Basilica, Agora, Theatre, Odeion, temples, fountains and Baths are oriented to the plain and the lake in the east and positioned in a way not to curtain each other. On the northern and southern slopes of the main hill lay Roman-type villas with peristyle courtyards, which also have a good view of the landscape. Below the limestone-paved streets run sewerage lines constructed with stone masonry and a water distribution network using terracotta pipes. The sewerage system is thought to begin somewhere near the pottery workshop quarter just above the theater. A series of sewerage pipes excavated below the Stadion surface reveal how waste water from above is drained so as to protect the venue from inundation. The city seems to have not needed a strong fortification system thanks to combination of rugged high terrain and military might, on the contrary to Strabo’s account of a strong defensive wall in its earlier times.
The first surveys on the city were conducted in the 19th century by T.A.B. Spratt and E. Forbes. First excavations in the city were done in 1988 and 1989 by the Directorate of Burdur Museum on Odeion building and in the tombs cut on the southern slopes of the main hill. In 2001 and 2002 another work was conducted by the Museum on the Necropolis Way at the Main Street for clearing and salvage purposes. Besides those tentative works, an epigraphical survey has been done since 1995. The first systematic and regular excavations were started in 2006 under direction of Burdur Museum and kept by Mehmet Akif Ersoy University’s Department of Archaeology starting from the year 2010. Till today excavations exposed the Stadion, Odeion, Agora, Roman Bath Complex and Necropolis of the ancient city. Considering the fact that neighboring Oinoanda had a philosophical tradition as attested in the monumental inscription of indigenous Roman philosopher Diogenes’ thoughts, traces of a similar rhetorical tradition can be expected from Kibyra.