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lion tomb of Antiphellos at ancient Kaş in TurkeyKaş, a well-known resort of great peace and charm, stands upon and among the ruins of Antiphellos, one of ancient Lycia's key ports.

Antiphellos must have been quite affluent for a few centuries either side of 150 BC, as indicated by scattered remains of past grandeur. Of course, we went ashore to explore what there is to see, strolling through lanes and squares shaded by blooming bougainvillaeas and across a hillside covered in old olive trees.

We visited the foundations of a double temple, sacred to a set of deities whom we cannot now identify, and we admired a mighty Greek-style theatre overlooking the coast and the Greek island of Kastellorizo in the distance. It is striking how many such theatres survive in Lycia!

We also saw a lot of rock-cut tombs, a characteristic feature of ancient Lycian settlements, some simple, some more elaborate. Most importantly, we showed our guests their first example of the typical and highly distinctive Lycian sarcophagus tombs, one known as the Lion Tomb.

Standing at a street corner within the modern settlement, this is a striking monument, tall and aloof, surrounded by an air of mystery and of power. Its lower part is a pedestal hewn from the sheer rock, while the sarcophagus and roof are of a separate piece. There is detail to observe here: the arched roof structure with its panelled gables and the beam-like protrusions on the sides are common to such Lycian tombs. Scholars believe that they are derived from wooden architecture, perhaps of earlier tombs (now lost) or of the dwellings or shrines of the era. This remains speculation, like so much of Lycia's past, as there is virtually no written record. Other details include carvings of standing figures in the gable, indicating a Greek influence on this monument, the lions' heads protruding from the roof and a long inscription in an only partly deciphered Lycian script on the side of the pedestal (it seems to name the occupant of the tomb as a man called 'Pigre', about whom we know nothing else).

The tomb is reckoned to be about 2,400 years old, and we can assume that it belonged to a member of a powerful family of ancient Antiphellos, or that it was a family grave.

You can visit Antiphellos on a number of our tours in Lycia. See our full range of tours in Turkey.

One response to “The Lion Tomb at Antiphellos, ancient Kaş in Turkey”

  1. Leonie says:

    Wonderful memories that are staying with me forever.
    Lycia is so unique since many sites seem to have crossed the centuries untouched. These tombs are true eye-catchers as they pop-up unexpectedly in the landscape, displaying their own tricky writing.
    Lovely to relive all that! Thank you.

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