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HIEROPOLIS CASTABALA Cilicia Campestris, Turkey.

About 24 km NE of Osmaniye in a valley about 3 km from N of River Ceyhan (Pyramus). First mentioned in literature as oppidum Castabalum at which Alexander the Great made a stage before the Battle of Issos, it was known from the period of Antiochos Epiphanes (175-64 B.C.) until the principate of Valerian (A.D. 253-60) either as Hieropolis on the Pyramos or as Hieropolis Castabala. In the 1st c. B.C., Hieropolis was the capital of a local dynasty that controlled the hinterland of the E plain of Cilicia. Its first ruler, Tarcondimotus, an inept politician, survived taking the side of Pompey against Caesar, only to die at Actium fighting for Antony against Octavian. Despite this second error of political judgment, the dynasty was temporarily restored though the city and its dependent territories seem to have been incorporated into the Empire before the death of Augustus. Hieropolis was also famed as a sanctuary of Artemis Perasia, and a number of honorific inscriptions have been found at the site (Bodrum) or near it, at the village of Kazmacilar. In the later empire, the city was a Christian bishopric but fell to the Arabs in the 7th c. and was not reoccupied afterwards. As a fortified outpost, however, the acropolis may have survived until the destruction of the Kingdom of Little Armenia by the Mamelukes of Egypt towards the end of the 14th c.

The ruins of Hieropolis Castabala, identified in 1890, are extensive and well preserved. A colonnaded street (the cardo) may be traced for over 200 m, its level rising gradually from S to N. The Corinthian columns of red conglomerate are fitted, as they are at the neighboring sites of Anazarbos, Soli-Pompeiopolis, and Uzuncaburç (Diocaesarea?), with brackets to support sculpture. The decumanus, however, is marked now only by a series of inscribed plinths for imperial statuary and has apparently no colonnade. The stone-built and largely freestanding theater faces W, and the vomitoria and seating are still generally well preserved, but the orchestra is rather deeply buried. Part of the scaena still stands, its frieze decorated with tragic and comic masks suspended from foliate swags. Farther up the valley are a brick and concrete bath building, and the foundations of a temenos with a rectangular marble structure (almost certainly the Temple of Artemis Perasia) within it. The downward slope of the wadi into the city is very abrupt, so that sustaining walls were built across it at intervals to prevent silt washing down in the rainy season into inhabited areas. Water was obviously rather scarce, however, and plaster-lined concrete reservoirs were built in the lower city as well as on the acropolis.

From the early bishopric of Hieropolis two important churches survive, of which the one to the S is specially well preserved. Like its N neighbor, it is probably of 5th c. date. It is a three-aisled basilica with its external polygonal apse flanked, in the Syrian manner, by a chamber to either side of it. Ancient material, especially frieze blocks of apparently 3d c. inhabited scroll-work, was extensively reused in its construction. Outside the city ramparts is a large necropolis with ruined heroa and rockcut tombs. The number of inscriptions, dating from the 1st c. B.C. until the 5th c. A.D. still remains to be properly recorded.

After the Islamic conquest of Cilicia only the acropolis was occupied, and it was still used as a stronghold and look-out post during the later and relatively short-lived periods of Byzantine and Armenian suzerainty. The site is now totally deserted.


J. T. Bent, “A Journey in Eastern Cilicia,” JHS 11 (1891) 234ff; A.H.M. Jones, Cities of the Eastern Provinces (2d ed. 1971) 202-5; P. Verzone, “Hieropolis Castabala, Tarso, Soli-Pompeiopolis, Kanytelleis,” Palladio 1 (1957) 54-68.


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