previous next

LABRAUNDA or Labraynda,, Labranda, Caria, Turkey.

An important religious center, a sanctuary rather than a town, about 48 km SW of Miletos and 13 km N of Mylasa (under whose control Labraunda usually was). It was the seat of the cult of Zeus Stratios or Labraundos, a local Mylasan deity. The site was occupied in archaic times, and Herodotos speaks of a large grove of sacred plane trees there (5.119). The first cult temple seems to have been erected in the 5th c. B.C., and the site was much embellished by the Hecatomnids, particularly by the brothers Mausolos and Idrieus, in the next century. Strabo (14.2.23) mentions the temple and the Sacred Way from Mylasa, and Aelian (NA 12.30) describes a basin at Labraunda stocked with tame and bejeweled fish. The Hecatomnid complex remained more or less unchanged until buildings were added to it in Julio-Claudian times. Perhaps the main buildings were destroyed about the middle of the 4th c. A.D. There are remains of a Byzantine church built of reused materials.

Part of the paved Sacred Way up from Mylasa is still visible. About 7.5 m wide, it runs straight, being partly constructed by cut-and-fill. The site, well supplied with water, is steep; the several terraces and numerous buildings were connected by ramps and stairs. Apart from the sanctuary there is an acropolis ca. 90 m in length, and on the slopes above the sacred precinct there are the fragmentary remains of a stadium. The Hecatomnids seem to have had a palace at Labraunda.

There were many tombs around the sanctuary and along the Sacred Way, usually cut from the living rock, room-style, or sunk into it. Of particular interest is one N of the temple, built up of carefully finished cut stone. Two rooms are vaulted with projecting corbel-stones, the undersides of which, however, are cut back to form the impression and surface of a true, curved vault. Above both chambers is a low second story, roofed with monolithic stone slabs up to 5 m in length. The doorway to the inner chamber was originally closed by a six-ton stone; the whole may be of the 4th c. B.C. There are fragments of two sarcophagi in the outer chamber, and three well-preserved sarcophagi in the inner chamber.

The original Temple of Zeus Stratios was a small structure in antis of megaron-like plan in part preserved by the Hecatomnid builders, who added to it an Ionic peristyle (6 x 8 columns); part of Idrieus' dedicatory inscription has been found. He and his brother constructed two interesting and all but identical andrones or religious meetinghouses, one W and one S of the temple terrace. These were well built of local stone, with rectangular plans and numerous large windows. Each had a porch with two columns in antis (recalling the plan of the original Temple of Zeus) and a large main room lit not only by side windows but also by windows in the thick wall separating the room from the porch. Both buildings have broad niches at the ends of their interior chambers, rectilinear in plan and elevated, shelf-like, from the floor. In the 1st c. A.D. a third andron was built, just S of the Hecatomnid one farther S. East and S of the temple are the remains of several priests' houses, one with a porch of four Doric columns. Flanking the broad terrace to the E of the temple were two stoas, the N one built for Mausolos, the S one for Idrieus. By the N one there is an exedra, perhaps of Roman date; beyond this was another large house. Below the S colonnade is a fairly elaborate well-house, probably of the 1st c. A.D. East of this are sizable ruins which may be of the Hecatomnid palace.

About 45 m SE of the well-house two staircases, one a grand, well-preserved structure nearly 12 m wide, lead to a lower courtyard faced on two sides by grand propylaea; it was to these that the Sacred Way led. Here stood a house with a facade of Doric columns which was later incorporated in a Roman bath building. Nearby, and also between the two propylaea, are the remains of the Byzantine church, a three-aisled basilica with a narthex and a deep apsidal sanctuary flanked by side chapels. Still farther SE, alongside part of the precinct wall, was an unusual two-story building partly constructed of granite columns. It has been suggested that Aelian's pool was here, that the fish were sacred to the god and were connected with those oracular functions for which there is some evidence at Labraunda (the use of fish as oracular agents is well attested in the ancient world).

There are several small, ruined fortresses of ancient date in the general vicinity. Some Labraunda finds can be seen in the Archaeological Museum in Izmir.


RE XII (1924) 277-82; A. Laumonier, Labraunda, Swedish Excavations and Researches (1955ff)PI; id., Les cults indigenes en Carie (1958) 45-101;EAA 4 (1961) 440-42P; A. Westholm,Labraunda (1963); G. E. Bean, Turkey Beyond the Maeander (1971) 56-68MPI; E. Akurgal, Ancient Ruins and Civilizations of Turkey (3d ed. 1973) 244-45.


hide References (1 total)
  • Cross-references from this page (1):
hide Display Preferences
Greek Display:
Arabic Display:
View by Default:
Browse Bar: