The site of Labranda, doting from the [ate Hellenistic period, is located in the Sodra Dağı Mountains, not far from Milas, former Mylasa, and about 110 kilometers northwest of Muğlcı. Take Highway 30 south from Söke to Milâs. Labranda is noted for the remains of its terraced temple to Zeus and also its lovely location among the pines. Several of the major archaeological works have been reconstructed, and a. visit is well worth the effort required to get there.
HISTORY OF LABRANDA
From its earliest beginnings, Labranda served as a sanctuary and religious center under control of the neighboring Carian- city of Mylasa, This control was taken over by armies of the Persian Darius in 499 B.C., but possession of Labranda was again allotted to Mylasa during the Seleucld rule of Carla. The city was declared a free city, thus insuring its sovereignty over the mountairr sanctuary of Labranda. This occurred during the middle of the third century B.C., when Seleucid Antiochus of Syria took the entire area in his sweep. A village grew around the area, consisting primarily of the religious community, but Labranda never grew to town tor city size. Baths and more buildings were added to the village in the first century A.D., possibly to better attract the pilgrims’ waning interest in the sanctuary to Zeus. A series of fires destroyed many of the structures, including the church erected by the Byzantines in the eleventh century.
The worship of Zeus was dominant in the sanctuary from about the fifth century B.C., when the first 1emple was dedicated to’ The god, until the Christian era. Zeus at Labranda was addressed as Labryndus and Stratius, which was unusual In the ancient world. Herodotus reported that Labranda and the Carians were the only known people to worship Zeus Stratius. The sanctuary is thought to have included an oracle as well as the temple, which was probably administered much like the oracle at Klaros. The priests were given life-time appointments and were responsible for religious affairs and amdinistration of the sanctuary. Not neorly so much has been learnt about the activities of Labranda as has been about those at Klaros through inscriptions and writings. Herodotus wrote briefly about Labranda describing the large stands of plane trees that were held sacred to the Zeus worshippers. And Strabo wrote about the priests’ functions at the site. Pliny tells about the iflysterious golden fish of Labranda. These fish were held sacred to Zeus, and are said to have issued oracular missives by some uncertain ancf highly dubious means. Apparently, the fish were a great novelty, at any rate, taking food from the onlookers’ hands and coming when they were called.
RUINS OF LABRANDA
Several excavations have been carried out at the site of Labranda, as well as some reconstruction work. Much still remains unexcavated to this day, however. Small statues and other works dating from the archaic period have been removed to the Izmir museum and are now on exhibition.
Temple of Zpus : Little remains except the foundation of the Temple of Zetis which was originally built in the fifth century B.C. of a simple «in antis» design. It consisted of a cella, a pronoas and an antae, with only two columns between the latter. A century later, the temple was redesigned on the foundation of the old temple by the Hecatomnid rulers, the brothers Idrieus and Mausolus. One of the new additions to the walls of the old temple was an opisthodamios, formed by the ^placement of two additional, antae at the west end- A colonnade of the ionic order was then erected around the temple with eight columns along the sides and six at the front and back. Thus the conversion was mode for a more suiting temple to Zeus. This foundation has been fully excavated, and sections of the fluted column drums are arranged around the spot to give on idea of how the colonnade must have appeared. The dedication was made by the ruler Idrieus, according to an inscription found on the site.
The Androns : Androns were more or less clubhouses for the men, and were used for assemblies, banquets and informal gatherings. The androns at Labranda were likely to have had some religious significance as well. The first of three at this site is that dedicated to Idrieus. It is well-restored to give some example of the other two. This is really-the most significant and obvious of the buildings on the site. It is located near the temple, to the east. The andrort comprised two rooms, an ante chamber and the main room, which are divided by a six-foot thick wail. An unusual number of windows, ten in all, were part of the building’s design. Two of these are on the dividing wall. Another obvious feature is the huge doorway. Notice the grooves in the windows for shutters, and also the high niche in the main room that extends outside the building. This was presumably of some religious character, possibly for cult statues. The second andron or Andron of Mausolus, is basically the same as the first. The design and size are nearly identical, differing only in the number of windows and the degree of reconstruction and preservation. The third andron, next to that of Mausolus, is much smaller than the other two and not as well preserved, Clergy Houses The residences of the temple priests and clergy are located next to the Andron of Idrieus. These two well-preserved rooms are fronted by a porch with four Doric columns, and were dedicated to Zeus. The rooms were used during the Christian period as well, after an altar had been Installed.
Terrace-Houses; The terrace-house beside the temple was built later than its predecessor to the East The newer one is formed of four rooms with a front corridor. The terrace of the temple was extended out over the roof of this building. The alder house was destroyed during Labranda’s great reconstruction period- in the fourth century.
Other Ruins : To the east of the temple is the Stoa of Mausolus. £t the end of that is a fifth-century building termed by the excavators as simply «East House», and o!so the semi-circular excedra. At the center ot the terrace wail, In front of Mausolus’ Andron, Is the fountain-house. This three columned structure was built sometime in the first century after Christ. A yet unexcavated building, to the east of the terrace, Is thought to have been a palace. A broad stairway in good condition ieods from the temple’s terrace to the propylaea and t.he Sacred Way. Most of the steps are still in position. The Sacred Way, paved with blocks of marble, led eight miles from Mylasa to the temple. Another building, Doric House, is near the southern prapylaea. This structure is fronted with four Doric columns, and is thought to have been a treasury. The Ablution Hall, set far below the level of the temple, Is thought to have housed the previously mentioned oracular golden fish. Quite a few of the columns of the upper storey remain in place. The lower storey of this two-level building has not beeru fully excavated. A stadium was located to the north of the temple, but its remains are scanty. The two end boundries and walls are still in place.
Tombs: One of the best example of Labranda’s many tombs is located on a hill above the Temple of Zeus. Take the path up from the temple’s terrace. Two inner chambers are set back from an outer forecourt. The doorways to both the forecourt and the funerary chambers were sealed with large stone slabs. Three well-preserved sarcophagi remain in the second chamber, while others were removed from the first chamber leaving only fragments to be seen. A second-storey was formed with long stone slabs set above the two lower chambers.