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MAGNESIA AD SIPYLUM (Manisa) Lydia, Turkey.

About 32 km NE of Izinir. Founded, together with Magnesia ad Maeandrum, by the Thessalian Magnetes, it was situated in the fertile valley of the Hermos river at the nexus of important road systems. Here in 190 B.C. the Romans decisively defeated Antiochos III of Syria, and the Magnesians sided with Rome in the struggle with Mithridates. When Sulla reordered the province of Asia, Magnesia was made a civitas libera. In A.D. 17 the area was struck by a terrible earthquake; the Roman authorities seem quickly to have reconstructed the town. In later Byzantine times it was an important political and military center.

There are some statues and small finds, and fragments of ancient buildings are preserved in Turkish structures, but the Classical town proper is unknown. However, in the vicinity are monuments of considerable significance, some of them apparently marking the westernmost limits of Hittite influence or control (dates and identifications have not been established conclusively in all cases). Pausanias came from the area, and his references to it and its traditions are numerous.

Just outside the SW limit of Manisa is the Rock of Niobe (Paus. 1.21.3; cf. Hom. Il. 24.615, and Soph. Ant. 806-16), a large natural rock formation rather in the shape of a woman weeping. What had formerly been taken to be Niobe's Rock is seen at Akpinar 6 km E of Manisa: a rock-cut figure of a seated woman shown frontally in a niche. This figure (Taş Suret) is probably Pausanias' Mother Goddess (3.22.4), that is, Kybele. It is in high relief and well over life size; though badly worn, it is surely Hittite in origin (13th c. B.C.). Beside it is a panel thought to contain a hieroglyphic inscription.

In the vicinity of the Taş Suret are monuments that may well be the ones that Pausanias associated with Pelops and Tantalos (2.22.3 and 5.13.7). The Tomb of Tantalos, long thought to be just N of Old Smyrna, can be sought at the tomb known as that of S. Charalambos, 1 or 2 km E of the Taş Suret. Pausanias' Throne of Pelops may be the same as a large rock-cutting in the shape of an altar or a seat that exists high up on the slopes of Mt. Sipylos between the Taş Suret and the S. Charalambos tomb. Pausanias' Sanctuary of the Plastene Mother (5.13.7) has been identified a little way from the Taş Suret in the plain of the Hermos. In the general vicinity of these monuments are Lydian constructions (houses and cisterns?) of the 7th and 6th c. B.C., some of sun-dried brick.

About 20 km S of Manisa, in the Karabel gorge, is a rock-cut relief of a standing ruler or war-god. Here also are the badly worn remains of what was once a hieroglyphic inscription. This is probably one of the reliefs that Herodotos identified, at second hand, as one of the XII dynasty pharaohs named Sesostris (2.106). In fact the carving is Hittite, and is known locally as Eti Baba.

Some sculptures and other finds can be seen in the local Manisa museum, and there are a few pieces in the Istanbul Archaeological Museum.


RE XIV (1930) 472-73; G. E. Bean, Aegean Turkey (1966) 53-63MI; E. Akurgal, Ancient Civilizations and Ruins of Turkey (3d ed. 1973) 132-33I.


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