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MYRA (Demre; Kale) Lycia, Turkey.

About 20 km W of Finike. Although the city is not mentioned in the literary authorities before the 1st c. B.C., the monuments and inscriptions in the epichoric language and script show it to have been, from the 5th c. at least, among the important cities of Lycia. It is not mentioned by pseudo-Skylax, and the Stadiasmus refers only to the port of Andriake. Strabo (666) describes it as standing 20 stades from the sea on a high crest, and records that it was one of the six cities of the highest class, possessing three votes in the assembly of the Lycian League. The name was popularly connected with the Greek word for myrrh; the Lycian name appears to have been the same.

In 42 B.C. Lentulus Spinther, in the course of collecting money for Brutus, was sent to Myra, where he compelled the city to meet his demands; Appian mentions that he forced an entrance to the harbor at Andriake by breaking the chain which closed it. Under the Empire Myra received numerous benefits from imperial families; on the occasion of a visit in A.D. 18 Germanicus and his wife Agrippina were honored with statues erected at Andriake. In A.D. 60 St. Paul, on his voyage to Rome, changed at Myra—that is at Andriake—from a ship of Adramyttium to one of Alexandria. In the 2d c. the city had the rank of metropolis, and was the recipient of handsome gifts of money from Licinius Longus of Oinoanda, Opramoas of Rhodiapolis, and Jason of Cyaneae. It was made capital of Lycia by Theodosius II, and continued to flourish long afterwards, enjoying a considerable reputation as the see of St. Nicholas, bishop of Myra in the 4th c. Constantine Porphyrogenitus (De Them. 14) refers to “that Lycian city breathing sweet unguents, thrice blessed, where the great Nicholas, servant of God, sends forth myrrh in accordance with the city's name.” Despite this testimony Myra does not appear to have been noted for the production of unguents; neither Pliny nor Athenaeus mentions her in this connection, and the only product that seems to be recorded is rue (Ath. 2.59).

Coins were perhaps struck at Myra under the dynasts as early as the 5th c., but became common under the Lycian League after 168 B.C. Imperial coinage, as elsewhere in Lycia, is virtually confined to Gordian III; the standard type is the epichoric goddess Eleuthera.

In Imperial times, as we learn from an inscription (OGIS 572), there was a municipal ferry service between Myra and Limyra.

The ruins lie rather less than 5 km inland. The present landing-stage is on the coast S of the city, separated from the village by an expanse of sand; the ancient harbor of Andriake is some 4 km to the W and 5 km from the city. The ancient site is now known as Kocademre.

The acropolis hill rises steeply behind the city; the summit is approached by an ancient road with steps, but now reveals nothing beyond a wall of late and inferior construction. At the S foot of this hill is the theater, of Roman type, measuring some 120 m in diameter. The cavea is supported on two concentric vaulted galleries, of which the outer is in two stories. Most of the seats and the vomitoria are in good condition. There is one diazoma, at the middle point of which is a projection from the wall with steps leading to the upper seats on either side; on the front of this projection is a figure of the Fortune of the city carrying rudder and cornucopia. On this same wall of the diazoma are painted names, apparently indications of reserved seats. Much of the stage building also survives.

The well-known Lycian rock tombs of Myra are in two main groups. Just to the W of the theater the steep face of the hill is honeycombed from top to bottom with closely packed clusters of tombs, showing a great variety of types, from the simplest to elaborate tombs of house and temple form decorated with reliefs in color. The greater number are not inscribed. Most of the inscriptions that do exist are in Lycian, a few in Greek. The other group, similar but less extensive, is in the E face of the hill looking towards the river valley. Here two tombs in particular are remarkable for their reliefs; one of them shows as many as eleven persons, male and female, adult and child, the members of the household of the deceased. Both the background and the figures themselves are colored, though the colors are now faded. To obtain the advantage of sunlight this B group should be visited in the morning.

On the E of the city the Myrus, now the Demre Çayi, reaches the sea; its wide stony bed is used as a road to the country around Kasaba. Though over 40 km in length, the stream dries up in summer. Water, supplied to the city by an aqueduct in the form of an open channel cut in the rock of the hillside some 3 m above the level of the valley, is said to come from a great distance. The valley, flanked on either side by high hills, narrows at the N end to an impressive gorge. Close to this N end, at Dereağzi, are the ruins of a large and handsome church, recently investigated.

The harbor of Andriake is little used nowadays. On its N side a short but abundant stream reaches the sea. There are numerous tombs cut in the rocks, but these are not of house or temple form and few if any date before the Imperial period. The well-preserved granary of Hadrian (60 x 30 m) is a 10-minute walk from the shore. It comprises eight chambers, long and narrow, communicating by doors, the two end chambers on the W smaller than the rest. Each chamber opens on the N facade through a door with a pair of windows above it. Between the windows and the door is a cornice with projecting consoles. Above the windows a shallow pediment is only partially preserved. At each end of the granary a small projecting chamber has an arched door at right angles to the others. The Latin inscription over the doors survives in part and contains the name of Hadrian; the building is identified as a granary by a late inscription in the front wall recording the construction of standard weights and measures for the cities of Myra and Arneai in accordance with specifications sent from Byzantium. Also in the front wall are busts of Hadrian and Faustina and a relief depicting two gods, apparently Pluto and Sarapis, dedicated in obedience to a dream by a superintendent of the granary. The ruins of Andriake include also several large Roman buildings to the N of the granary and a tower on the headland to the W.

Some distance to the W of Myra, close beside the road to Sura, is a large and impressive built tomb still complete except for its roof. It dates from Roman times, but preserves the tradition of the Lycian tombs in having a bench round three sides of the interior and a basement corresponding to the hyposorium of the Lycian sarcophagi. It has no inscription.

At the W edge of the village of Demre stands the well-known Church of St. Nicholas of Myra. The only part which may date from the time of the bishop himself is the crypt, now considerably below ground level.


C. Fellows, Lycia (1840) 194-202; T.A.B. Spratt & E. Forbes, Travels in Lycia (1847) I 125-34; E. Petersen & F. von Luschan, Reisen in Lykien (1889) II 23-38; G. Rickman, Roman Granaries (1971) 138-40P.


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