On the inland route between the coastal stations of Myra (Kale-Deinre) and
Antiphellos (Kaş), the hillside city of Trysa was built at
an elevation of 866 m. It developed from an ancient
Lycian aristocratic seat, as indicated by the restricted
size of the acropolis and an archaic pillar grave with a
relief-decorated burial chamber. The socles and fragments
of the monolithic shaft of this ruined funeral monument
are preserved, W of the citadel, bearing parts of a continuous frieze, whose warriors and riders could refer
either to a historical event or to a representation of the
Ekphora. This monument may be grouped, with the Lion
Grave of Xanthos and the pillar graves of Isinda-Belinkli
(Istanbul Archaeological Museum) and Gürses—all of
which may be dated in the last quarter of the 6th c. B.C.—among the oldest witnesses of the Lycian culture.
In the Classical period, the gravestones of the dynasts
of Trysa were erected on two terraces E of the citadel.
On the upper terrace is a heroon of the temenos type
with rectangular plan (19.66 x 20.7 m x 23.5 x 24.54
m). Reliefs were carved on the exterior S wall and on
all interior surfaces of the two upper courses of the isodomic temenos wall. In the SE corner was a wooden cubicle for the celebration of funeral ceremonies.
The main grave was not erected on the main axis of
the entrance in the S wall, but on an E-W diagonal, in
the form of a typical Lycian funeral hut, imitating wooden architecture. Within the precinct stood other relief-decorated sarcophagi and sculptures, of which only a few marble fragments remain: a lion, a life-size female figure,
and a winged figure, probably a sphinx. The site was discovered in 1841 and in 1883 the architectural sculpture (211 m of frieze with ca. 600 figures) was taken to the Kunsthistonisches Museum in Vienna. The form of the
entrance complex shows oriental influences: the four-winged bull protomes which adorn the outer jambs go back to Persian models. On the inner face there are dancing and instrument-playing demon dwarfs, which go back
to Bes, the Egyptian god of the underworld.
The friezes in Greek style show Amazonomachies,
Centauromachies, and scenes from mythology: the rape
of the Leukippides, the War of the Seven against Thebes,
the Siege of Troy, Odysseus killing the suitors, the Calydonian Boar Hunt, and the deeds of Theseus and Perseus. The Kalathos dancers on the inner door jambs and the banquet scenes on the inner S face symbolize the cult of
We do not know the name of the builder, a dynast of
Trysa, the political vassal of the high king of Persia; the
representation of Bellerophon killing the Chimaera from
a galloping quadriga on the S inner face shows an armored warrior standing in the chariot as a descendant of this Lycian national hero. The style of the reliefs dates the heroon to the first half of the 4th c. B C.
On the lower terrace, next to the relief-decorated
sarcophagus of Deireimis and Aischylos, also removed to
Vienna, stood three more mausolea in Lycian style with
eagle roofs, all of which may similarly be dated to the
4th c. B.C.
A mid 4th c. date may also be assigned to a large relief
cut into the cliff below the S wall of the acropolis, belonging to a heroon, as indicated by the theme well known in Lycian relief sculpture: priests, acolytes, and sacrificial animals.
Of the numerous Lycian sarcophagi S of the city from
the Hellenistic period, one found its way to the Istanbul
Museum. The lifting-bosses on its lid have been transformed into bulls' heads and Gorgoneia. In the sunken field between the Gorgoneia is a heraldic-looking lion and opposite him, a quadriga. The dolphins on the gables
and the images on the ridge-beam complement one another: the occupant was apparently a merchant of the 2d c. B.C. who owed his riches to overseas trade, as indicated by the representations of a ship's prow and a large
There are numerous ruins in the dense maze of the S
side of the city. During the construction of a road for
the removal of the reliefs from the heroon, the remains
of a temple in antis SW of the citadel were revealed. Inscriptions found there refer to decrees of the demes in
the 1st c. A.D., and bear witness to the cult of Zeus Eleutherios and of Helios at Trysa. The community survived into the Byzantine period, as evidenced by a church on the acropolis.
J. A. Schönborn, Museum of Classical
(1851) I 41f; O. Benndorf, “Vorläufiger
Benicht über zwei österreichische Expeditionen nach
Kleinasien,” Arch.-Epigr. Mitt. Österr
. 6 (1882) 151ff;
E. Petersen & F. von Luschan, Reisen in Lykien, Milyas
und Kibyratis, Reisen im südwestlichen Kleinasien
; O. Benndorf & G. Niemann, Das Heroon
(1889); W. Ruge, RE
(1939) 746f; F. Eichler, Die Reliefs des Heroon von
(1950); R. Noll, “Ein fürstlicher Grabbezirk griechischer Zeit in Kleinasien,” Antike Welt