previous next

SILLYON (Asar Köyü) Turkey.

City in Pamphylia 28 km E-NE of Antalya. Founded presumably by the mixed migrants under Amphilochos, Mopsos, and Kaichas after the Trojan War; a statue base bearing the name of Mopsos was recently found on the site. The city is mentioned by Pseudo-Skylax in the mid 4th c., and by Ptolemy and Hierokles. Strabo (667) records, between Perge and Aspendos, a lofty city visible from Perge, 40 stades from the sea, which can be no other than Sillyon, though the distance is underestimated by more than half. When Alexander came to Pamphylia in 333 B.C. Sillyon was the only place to resist him; it was held, says Arrian (1.26), by a garrison of the native barbarians and foreign mercenaries. Alexander's first improvised attack failed, and he abandoned the idea of a second. Coinage begins in the 3d c., giving the city's name as Selyviys. Pseudo-Skylax and Arrian give it as Syllion, but Sillyon is the form used on the later coins. In Byzantine times Sillyon was joined as a bishopric with Perge.

The city stood on and around a conspicuous flat-topped hill some 210 m high. All sides of the hill are precipitous except the W, and fortifications were needed only there. Occupation seems to have been originally confined to the flat hilltop, but later a wall was built on the SW slope to extend the inhabited area. At the S end of this wall is an entrance gate of the same type as at Perge and Side, a horseshoe-shaped court flanked by towers in the wall. At the N end of the wall is a tower still virtually complete, in two stories with six windows; from the upper story doors opened onto the ramparts, and in the lower story two other doors lead into and out of the city.

The original city gate, however, stood at the top of the steep W slope, and was approached from N and S by a ramp. The gate itself is poorly preserved, but the ramp, especially on the S, is impressive. A road 5 m wide leads obliquely up the hill, flanked on one side by the face of the hill and on the other by a wall of regular masonry supported by buttresses, with a number of windows; the date is Hellenistic. Of the N ramp a part of the stone paving remains near the top.

The theater stood at the edge of the cliff on the S, with a smaller theater or odeion beside it on the E. The theater is small, and was split by a great cleft in the rock; the odeion was better preserved, but in 1969 a landslide carried away the lower part of the theater and all of the odeion; all that now remains is a few of the upper rows of seats in the theater.

A short distance to the E is a series of terraces, cut in the rock and joined by steps, where there are ruins of houses, partly rock-cut, partly of masonry. At the edge of the cliff is a small temple of Hellenistic date, with walls in handsome broad-and-narrow masonry; the S wall, however, has disappeared over the precipice.

Some 50 m N of the theater is a group of buildings which seem to have formed the city center; three of them are comparatively well preserved. The most conspicuous is a large Byzantine structure of unknown purpose; the other two are Hellenistic. The larger of these is long and narrow, evidently a public hall of some kind; its W wall stands 6 m high and contains 10 windows. The smaller building is remarkable for its elegantly decorated doorway, and particularly for the inscription carved on one of the door-jambs. This is in the Pamphylian dialect of Greek, 37 lines long, and the most important document known in that dialect; little progress, however, has been made in its interpretation. Other buildings on the plateau include a small temple, badly preserved, a round tower, and a large cistern. In the lower part of the city, close to the later city gate, is a large building of uncertain purpose, sometimes called a palace, and below this on the W are the scanty ruins of a stadium.

Tombs are mostly on the low ground below the hill on the W: plain rectangular graves cut in the surface of large boulders apparently fallen from above, with steps leading up to them, and in some cases holes for the pouring of libations. Inscriptions at Sillyon are unusually scarce.


K. Lanckoronski, Pamphylien (1890) 64-84MI; G. E. Bean, Turkey's Southern Shore (1968) 59-66MI; Pamphylian inscription; H. Collitz, Sammlung d. griechischen Dialektinschriften I (1884) 1266.


hide Display Preferences
Greek Display:
Arabic Display:
View by Default:
Browse Bar: