Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Turkey 10: Hierapolis Necropolis

Hierapolis, according to Wikipedia, was founded as a thermal spa in the 2nd century BCE.  People from all over came here to find healing in the thermal pools, which we will see in a later post.

They also came here to die.  We entered Hierapolos from the north, which brought us first through the Necropolis, the area where the dead were left to rest.  The bodies were long gone.  We had the opportunity to wander through what was left.

Mostly Roman structures were left.  Large mausoleums for rich families dotted the hillsides. 

They were interspersed with single person sarcophagi.  All of the tombs had long ago been desecrated and looted.

The street of the dead was easily half a mile or more long.  Everywhere along the street tombs and pieces of broken tombs littered the side of the road.

Mausoleums like this were obviously not cheap to build.  Yet we found them everywhere.  Here is yet another example of the creative use of arches to both create a space and support the ceiling.

These were mostly single sarcophagi that have been broken and looted.  We never learned what happened to the bodies which they once enclosed.

This compound had been dug into a hillside and protected by an eight foot wall, the doors of which were long gone.

Indeed, none of the doors were left in a closed position.

That allowed me to photograph the interiors and observe the different forms of construction.

Here we have veered off the new road and on to the old road into what used to be the main part of town.  This experience left me with a visceral understanding about just how fleeting our lives really are.

Many of people with lots of money tried in vain to be remembered for posterity by creating these elaborate structures.  Yet, even the lettering eventually erodes, and all that's left for most of us are memories that die with those we leave behind.  That, and for those who were once interred here, a huge field of broken stones.

Continue on to Post 11: Hierapolis, by clicking here.


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