previous next

CLAROS Ionia, Turkey.

The oracle and Sanctuary of Apollo Clarios was situated in Ionia, near the coast between Smyrna and Ephesos, in the prefecture of Izmir. No city is known and no coins. The sanctuary belonged to Colophon with its joint centers, which varied in importance in different periods: Old Colophon (near the village of Değirmendere), about 15 km to the N, and New Colophon, or Colophon by the Sea or Notium, which was an acropolis port at the outlet of the valley 2 km S. All the political and religious officials of the sanctuary held office in the city of Colophon and were Colophonians; there were no Clarians.

Claros was famed for its oracle, to which many literary texts bear witness (generally not in detail). The most informative of these are the Homeric Hymn to Apollo, Tacitus' account of Germanicus consultation in A.D. 18 (Tac. Ann.), and lamblichos' Treatise on the Mysteries (De Mysteriis). Its most flourishing period, according to the newest discoveries, was in the 2d and even the 3d c. A.D. Oracles, preserved chiefly by Christian writers, show that in this period the sanctuary officials came under certain philosophical influences and the oracle gave forth theological oracles of syncretist doctrine.

The site had been located, very approximately, in the coastal plain S of the village of Giavurköy (now Ahmetbeyli) following scattered finds of inscriptions towards the end of the 19th c. At the beginning of the 20th c. some columns and inscriptions were found which determined the exact location of what were later identified as the propylaea of the sanctuary. This latter monument was excavated almost in its entirety before the temple was discovered and exhumed. The monuments are, on the average, 4 m below the tobacco-growing plain; their bases are slightly below the phreatic water level. To the S, facing seaward, is the triple-doored propylaea or tripylon; its walls and columns are largely covered with inscriptions from the Imperial period. From there to the temple extend a series of bases honoring Roman governors of the 1st c. B.C. There was also a large sacred grove.

The temple is Doric, with five steps. In facade it measures 26 m with 6 columns, and 45.49 m deep with 11 columns. About 150 column drums have been found along with whole columns and their capitals, overturned in an earthquake after the temple had been abandoned. The present monument was probably built toward the beginning of the Hellenistic period. Around the beginning of the Imperial period changes were made to accommodate in the cella a group of three colossal statues—Apollo seated between standing figures of Artemis and Leto. On the architrave is Hadrian's dedication of the monument, which he had finished. The altar, 27.5 m from the temple is 18.45 m wide with four steps; it was consecrated to Apollo and Dionysos. North of the temple-oracle is a small, badly damaged temple consecrated to Artemis Claria (her effigy appears on coins of the Imperial period); in front of it is an altar near which was found a Kore dedicated to Artemis by Timonax, the temple's first priest.

The special interest of the temple lies in the fine preservation of the whole oracular section below the temple. This section has two narrow staircases and passageways with seven changes of direction. A room, roofed at first then later vaulted, designed like a grotto, contained a marble omphalos, which has been recovered. A low postern gate leads to a second room where probably only the thespiod could enter; in this room was the well from which he drank the prophetic water. In front of the postern was a seat for the priest (probably the prophetes) whose task it was to note down the answers. The oracles took place on certain days, always at night. The majority of the inscriptions consist of lists of delegations in the Imperial period (2d and 3d c.)—the chronology can be established fairly readily—which came, especially from the interior of Asia Minor and the W coast of the Euxine, to consult the oracle. Certain cities sent delegations every year, others at times of public disaster. The city's official consultant, the theopropos, was often accompanied by a chorus of young men and girls from his city who came to sing hymns composed by poets, also compatriots. There are indications of mysteries and initiation in some of the texts.


T. Macridy, Oesterr. Jahreshefte (1905 & 1912); id. & C. Picard, BCH (1915); C. Picard, Ephèse et Claros (1922); L. Robert, Les fouilles de Claros (1954); G. Klaffenbach, Das Altertum 1 (1955); L. Robert in C. Delvoye & G. Roux, La civilisation grecque I (1969) ch. “L'oracle de Claros.”

Brief annual reports on the excavations in Annuaire Collège de France, TürkArkDergI, AJA, AnatSt. Series of inscriptions in L. & J. Robert, La Carie II (1954); L. Robert in Laodicée du Lycos (1969).


hide Display Preferences
Greek Display:
Arabic Display:
View by Default:
Browse Bar: