previous next

DIDYMA or BRANCHIDAI (Didim, previously Yoran) Turkey.

Lies on a limestone plateau of the Milesian peninsula to the S of Miletos, with which it was once connected by the Sacred Way. To the NW is the port of Panormos (Kovella); to the W, Cape Poseidon (Tekağac burnu). According to a late tradition, it was known just before the Ionian settlement as a fountain oracle of Apollo (Paus. 7.2.6), whose prophets were descended from the Carian Branchos, the spring having apparently belonged at one time to a local goddess, comparable to the Greek Leto. The earliest literary references are in Herodotos (e.g., 1.157; 2.159; 1.92). The dedications of Necho II and Croesus show the wide influence of the oracle in archaic times. When the Ionian rebellion collapsed in 494 B.C., the Persians burned the Temple of Apollo (Temple II), which was still under construction, and carried off to Persia the cult statue of Kanachos, the treasures (Hdt. 6.19), and the Branchidian priests (Strab. 14.1.5; 11.11.4). Our knowledge of the sanctuary in the 5th and 4th c. B.C. rests on little evidence (SIG 57). The oracle was first revived in 331 B.C. (Strab. 17.1.43). Probably at this time the plan for the latest Temple of Apollo (III) was completed and construction begun (Vitr. 7 praef. 16). The work continued off and on during the next six centuries (Suet. Calig. 21). Ancient authors mention its unfinished state (Strab. 14.1.5; Paus. 7.5.4). Even in the post-archaic period it received royal endowments. Ca. 300 B.C. the Seleucids contributed to the construction and the elaboration of the rest of the sanctuary, and returned the stolen cult figure (Paus. 1.16; 8.46). The sanctuary was further enlarged in Hellenistic-Roman times; in addition to the main temple there were other shrines, a grove, and a settlement (Strab. 14.1.5). Inscriptions testify to the existence of Sanctuaries of Artemis, Zeus, and Aphrodite, and of other structures. The oracle appears to have been used, as was that of Apollo at Klaros, to give theological answers, and was finally silenced by the Theodosian Edict of A.D. 385. Signs of decline are evident prior to A.D. 250: the Hellenistic structure was plundered to provide for the erection of new buildings. The destruction of the shrine in which the cult figure stood and of other structures provided material for the building of a Christian basilica in the adyton, which stood, in spite of several earthquakes and a fire, until late into the Middle Ages. The earthquake of 1493 brought down the “whole massive marble structure of the temple” (Knackfuss).

Temple III, which lies in a hollow, rests on a seven-tiered foundation and is reached on the E by steps (stylobate 51.13 x 109.34 m). There was an inner ring around the cella (8 x 19 columns) and an outer one (10 x 21 columns). The plan is based on a series of axes, with the proportions of the whole determined by a standard intercolumniation (5.3 m). The deep pronaos contains 12 columns. There is no direct entrance to the cella. In the middle of the wall of the pronaos is a portal (5.62 x ca. 14 m) with a sill too high to step over. An intervening two-columned room was so dimly lit that its interior was largely invisible. Two passageways without steps led down from the inner corners of the pronaos to the adyton, treated as a courtyard open to the sky. The lower portion of its walls are plain, the upper articulated with pilasters which were of the same height as the outer colonnades. A wide flight of steps leads upward toward the two-columned room. In the parastades of this stair are the doorways leading from the tunnels. The courtyard contained the oracle spring and laurels in the W part, where Zeus and Leto celebrated their nuptials; the naiskos with the cult figure was also here. The two predecessors of Temple III lay in the W half of the courtyard or adyton: the foundations of the adyton of Temple II, begun in 550-540, consisting of limestone slabs with projections for pilasters, lie between socles and the foundations of the naiskos. This temple has been reconstructed as having a pronaos with a great portal and high sill and double colonnade with 9 columns on the back, 8 with greater intercolumniation on the front, and 7 along the side, the columns having a height of some 15 m. This plan corresponds to the greater Samian Rhoikos temple (21 columns) as the column reliefs and bases in the pronaos and on the facade do to those of the Artemision at Ephesos. To Temple II belong, on the E, the surrounding round altar, brook, protecting wall of the consecration terrace with its two treasuries (later covered by the foundations of several pedestals), and in the S the stadium (starting-blocks near the SE corner of Temple III).

The side walls of Temple I, which dates from the 7th or 8th c. B.C., lie within the adyton foundation of Temple II. It consists of blocks of poros lying on the S between the first and third foundation projection, in the N by the fourth projection. The oldest naiskos as well as a hall under the steps outside Temple II on the SW date from a period of expansion. Thus, the adyta of Temples II and III, which contained the cult image, surrounded the courtyard of their predecessor. The position of the spring and the design of Temple III indicate that there must have been steps in front of the E wall of the adyton, which was pierced by three doors, to give access from the courtyard to the two-columned room, whose narrow side contains two staircases (“labyrinths”) leading to the roofed part of the pronaos. The last temple did not alter the old arrangement in front of the new building. The Sacred Way, of which a segment is Visible in the NW of the site, appears to have passed here.

The chronology of individual parts of Temple III can be sketched quickly: 1) the socle wall of the adyton, the naiskos, the two tunnels and parts of the krepidoma were built until 230 B.C. up to the orthostate; 2) the 29 wall segments with pilasters of the adyton, the two staircases, the doors, and the main portal were added before 165-164 B.C. At the end of this phase of construction the columns began to be transposed (12-column room, surrounding colonnade) and the limestone was leveled to receive the foundations of the colonnade, this unfinished work being carried on alrpost throughout the entire Imperial period; 3) the columns of the E face; and 4) after the 2d c. A.D., the addition of the Gorgon frieze and the treasury ceiling.

The finds from Didyma are in the museums in Didyma, Izmir, Istanbul, Berlin, Paris, and London (the famous “Branchides”).


B. Haussoullier, Études sur l'histoire de Milet et du Didymeion (1902); E. Pontremoli & B. Haussoullier, Didymes (1904)MPI; T. Wiegand, “6., 7., 8., Vorl. Berich über die Ausgrabungen,” AbhBerl (1908, 1911, 1925) 32-46, 35-71, 9-25MPI; id. & H. Knackfuss, Didyma, I: Die Baubeschreibung (1941) 3 vols.MPI; A. Philippson, Das südl. Ionien, Milet III 5 (1936)M; A. von Gerkan, “Der Tempel von Didyma und sein antikes Baumass,” ÖJh 32 (1940) 127-50; id., “Das Säulenproblem des Naiskos von Didyma,” IstMitt 13-14 (1963-64) 63-72; A. Rehm, Didyma, II: Die Inschriften (1958); L. Robert, “Inscriptions de Didymes et de Milet”; “Sur Didymes à l'Époque Byzantine,” Hellenica 11-12 (1960) 440-504; F. Krauss, “Die Höhe der Säulen des Naiskos im Tempel von Didyma,” IstMitt 11 (1961) 123-33; G. Gruben, “Das archaische Didymaion,” JdI 78 (1963) 78-182PI; R. Naumann & Tuchelt, “Die Ausgrabung im Südwesten des Tempels von Didyma 1962,” IstMitt 13-14 (1963-64) 15-62PI; H. Drerup et al., “Bericht über die Ausgrabungen in Didyma 1962,” AA 79 (1964) 333-84PI; W. Hahland, “Didyma im 5. Jh. v. Chr.,” JdI 79 (1964) 142-240PI; W. Günther, “Eine neue didymeische Bauinschrift,” IstMitt 19-20 (1969-70) 237-47; id., Das Orakel von Didyma in Hellenistischer Zeit, IstMitt Suppl. 4 (1971); K. Tuchelt, “Die archaischen Skulpturen von Didyma,” IstForsch 27 (1970)I; id. et al., “Didyma. Bericht über die Arbeiten 1969-70,” IstMitt 21 (1971) 45-108PI; id., “Vorarbeiten zu einer Topographie von Didyma,” IstMitt Suppl. 9 (1973)MPI; id. et al., “Didyma. Bericht über die Arbeiten 1972-73,” IstMitt 23-24 (1973-74)PI; B. Fehr, “Zur Geschichte des Apollonheiligtums von Didyma,” MarbWPr (1971-72) 14ffP; W. Voigtländer, “Quellhaus und Naiskos im Didymaion nach den Perserkriegen,” IstMitt 22 (1972) 93ffPI; id., “Der jüngste Apollontempel von Didyma,” IstMitt Suppl. 14 (1974)I.


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