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OLBA (Uğura) Rough Cilicia, Turkey.

Now a village located 22 km inland NE of Seleucia ad Calycadnum at an elevation of ca. 1000 m. It was probably capital of Pirindu (Rough Cilicia) in the 6th c. B.C. The priests of the Temple of Zeus at Uzuncaburç ruled a state of unknown extent in the Hellenistic period, possibly under nominal Seleucid control. There was an Olban polis organized by the 1st c. B.C. at the latest, and in the Olban territory the provincial natives known as Kennateis or Kannatai. The priestly family was confirmed in power by Antony, then by Augustus, under whom the High Priest Ajax son of Teucer was toparch of the Kennateis and Lalasseis, the last perhaps located somewhere in the Calycadnus valley. In the 1st c. A.D. M. Antonius Polemo appeared as dynast of Olba, the Kennateis and Lalasseis. The state and city lost their independence when all Cilicia was made into a province ca. A.D. 72, and by the time of Domitian the temple town was separated from Olba and incorporated as a city, Diocaesarea.

The city site lies on and around a hill at the edge of a fertile, well-watered plain, some 3 km to the E of the temple. The hill is fortified by a ring wall of polygonal masonry, perhaps of Hellenistic date. The great towers at Uzuncaburç and the town of the Kanytelleis were dedicated by the priest Teucer son of Tarkyaris around the late 3d or early 2d c. B.C. Other towers and forts possibly Hellenistic, few well described, some with carved symbols that appear on coins of Olba, guard all the approaches to Olba, between Seleucia and the Lamus river, near the coast and farther inland. All these towers and forts perhaps were used or built by Teucer as a defense system for his territories.

The remains of the city of Olba are few and unimpressive and, except possibly for the defense wall, all are of the Roman and Christian periods. The ravines that form the E and W sides of the fortified hill and join the ravine of the Karyağdi Deresi are riddled with rock-cut graves. A well-preserved section of an arched aqueduct, dated by an inscription to A.D. 199-211, which brought water from the upper Lamus, spans the ravine at the NE end of the hill. Around the sides of the hill are numerous house remains, some well preserved. The center city was at the W side on the plain, facing across to Diocaesarea. Here are the remains of a theater hollowed out of the hill with some remains of its scene building preserved, and a fairly well preserved nympheum consisting of a wall with returns flanking a basin, approached by three steps and a platform. Both theater and nymphaeum are probably of the 2d c. A.D. In the plain S of these is a grave temple or heroon, a small prostyle tetrastyle Corinthian building with a square cella about 8.5 m a side, only the walls are preserved. At the site are the remains of two churches; and on a ledge in the Karyağdi Deresi ravine just S of the citadel, a monastery (?).


Strab. 14.5.10; E. L. Hicks, “Inscriptions from Western Cilicia,” JHS 12 (1891) 269-70; J. T. Bent, “A Journey in Cilicia Tracheia,” JHS 12 (1891) 222; R. Heberdey & A. Wilhelm, Reisen in Kilikien, DenkschrWien, Phil-Hist. Kl. 44, 6 (1896) 90-91; J. Keil & A. Wilhelm, Denkmäler aus dem Rauhen Kilikien, MAMA III (1931) 80-89MPI; T. S. MacKay, “Olba in Rough Cilicia,” Diss. 1968M.


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