(Horzum [Gölhisar]) Phrygia, Turkey.
About 59 km S of Denizli. According to
Strabo 631, the Kibyrates were said to be descended from
certain Lydians who occupied the Kabalis and were driven by the neighboring Pisidians to the site which became
their permanent home. Strabo adds that Kibyra prospered by reason of its good government, which he calls
a moderate tyranny, and controlled a wide territory extending from Pisidia and Milyas as far as Lycia and the
At some time during the 2d c. B.C. a tetrapolis was
formed under the leadership of Kibyra, comprising the
neighboring cities of Bubon, Balbura and Oinoanda.
This tetrapolis was finally broken up after the first Mithridatic War. A principal industry at Kibyra was metallurgy; Strabo remarks it as a peculiarity of the region
that iron was easily worked there. We hear also of a
guild of cordwainers.
In A.D. 23 the city was visited by a severe earthquake.
Tiberius came to the rescue with a remission of taxation
for three years, and assistance in the rebuilding was
given by Claudius; in gratitude Kibyra added the name
of Caesarea to her own, instituted Caesarean games, and
began a new dating era from the year 25. In A.D. 129
Hadrian, on his journey through the eastern provinces,
visited Kibyra and conferred “great honors” on the people (IGRR
I 418). Coinage began after 167 B.C. and
continued down to Gallienus. The population was divided into tribes, apparently five in number, named after
individual citizens who are thought to have been their
presidents for the time being.
The site was first identified in 1842. It stands about
1050 m above sea level, half an hour's walk from the
village. The site is extensive but unimpressive, occupying
a low ridge E-W, which seems never to have been enclosed by a wall in antiquity though there are remnants
of a mediaeval wall around the city center.
In the upper (W) part of the city is the theater, facing
a little S of E, in very fair preservation. It is somewhat
above average size, with something over 40 rows of seats
and a single diazoma. The seats are largely preserved,
though overgrown and buried in the lower part. The
stage building has collapsed; of the doors leading onto
the stage two are preserved, and the uprights of a third.
An arched entrance survives at orchestra level, and a
smaller rectangular entrance near the top of the cavea.
The top ten rows of seats seem to have been added later
than the others. The theater is of Graeco-Roman type,
with the cavea rather more than a semicircle.
Some 90 m to the S of the theater is the odeum, also
in good preservation. It forms a segment of a circle
with diameter of 17 m. The front wall stands complete
up to its cornice, and is surmounted by a row of large
windows partially preserved. It is pierced at ground level
by five arched doors, the middle one larger than the
rest, and a rectangular door at either end. The curved
wall of the auditorium projects slightly at each end beyond the front wall; in the projection is a small window
high up, and just inside the building is another window.
The presence of these windows suggests that the odeum
was roofed over. Spratt counted 13 rows of seats visible
at that time; there are certainly more buried. Nothing is
now to be seen of any stage or platform for performers.
In front of the odeum is a long terrace wall some 24 m
high, of irregular ashlar masonry.
Below the theater to the E is the city center, but the
numerous public buildings are now utterly destroyed and
none has been identified. Lower down, at the E end of
the city, the stadium survives in fair condition, running
approximately N-S. The S end is rounded; at the N end
was a triple-arched entrance. The seats on the W side
rest on the slope of the hill, but are much overgrown;
the arcade at the top remains in part. On the E side a
low embankment, faced with a rough wall, carried a few
rows of seats. The stadium is of full length, with an
arena 197 m long.
On the E a fine paved street of tombs led up to the
city, entering by a triumphal arch in the Doric order.
The tombs are mostly sarcophagi, one or two of which
are decorated with gladiatorial combats in relief. At the
W end of the city a ruined Christian church reminds us
that the bishopric of Kibyra ranked first among those of
the eparchy of Caria under the metropolitan of Staurupolis (Aphrodisias).
T.A.B. Spratt & E. Forbes, Travels in
(1847) I 253-60; E. Petersen & F. von Luschan,
Reisen in Lykien
(1889) II 186-92; G. E. Bean in BSA
51 (1956) 136-49.
G. E. BEAN