TELMESSOS


Fethiye was a harbor at the Lycian-Carian frontier, named as Telmessos in the antique period. Telmessos antique city is the only center where there has been continuous settlement from the time it was first constructed along the Mediterranean coastline until today. Based on some philological studies, it is believed that the city dates as far back as the third century B.C.; however no concrete evidence has yet been found to support this theory. 
Based on the legend narrated by Suidas, one of the authors of the antique period, it can be assumed that the city has a past going as far back as the Trojan War. In the early years of the Trojan War, the Lycian god Apollon falls in love with the daughter of Antenor, who was the host of Odysseus and Menelaus. In order to capture the heart of this shy girl, he transformed into the appearance of a small, lovable dog. When the girl is attracted to him, he reveals his true identity and they make love. Eventually a son is born whom they call Telmessos. A city is established in his name along the Lycian border and Apollon appointed his son as the prophet of the city.

There is not much information about the exact origin of the Telmessos. But it is certain that Telmessos was not always a Lycian city. In 545 B.C. the Persians, dominating Lydia under the command of Harpagos, moved into Lycia over Caria, seizing Caunus and Telmessos. During the years 535 and 33 B.C., while the Persians dominated the area for certain periods Telmessos together with the rest of Lycian cities was ruled by the first satrap. Its’ fate was no different from Lycia on the whole. In 446 B.C. prior to the Euremedon War, Telmessos was individually included in the list of Lycians who departed from Persians and joined the Attic- Delos Naval Union, paying tax in certain years between 446-424 B.C.. In the list of tax payers, they were named as "Lycians, and company". Telmessos was ruled by the Persians once again in 390 B.C.

Lycia under command of Perikles fought with Telmessos in the 4th century BC. This must have been ended with Lycian victory because Skylax mentions Telmessos as a Lycian city in his historical records. In 189 BC, an agreement was signed between Eumenes and Antiokhos and this set apart Telmessos from Lycia. After a while, with the collapse of Pergamon Kingdom after Eumenes; once more city became a part of Lycia. These situations with Telmessos city caused various changes in Lycian western border.
Herodotos was one of the earliest sources mentioning Telmessos. While Herodotos describes Telmessos as ‘the city that is known for its oracles’, Strabon defines city as an ordinary Lycian town.
When Great Alexander arrived Telmessos in the winter of 334-333 BC citizens made peace with him straightaway. However this did not last long and Nearkhos who was appointed as satrap for the region takes control of the city and gets it back from Antipatrides.
In 43 BC Emperor Cladius advised Roman Senate to declare and acknowledge Lycia as a Roman State and Telmessos became a city under Roman sovereignty.
Telmessos joined Kalkhedon Council in 451 AC and lost its significance with the weakening as a result of Arab influxes in the 7th century. In 8 AC Anastasius changed the city’s name to Anastasiupolis but this alteration was not widely accepted. In the preceding years city’s name became Makri; some scholars believe it is because this word means ‘distant clime’, other scholars think it is coming from a bishop named Makrianes. With the increase of Turkish population in the region this word was transformed into Meğri and eventually based on the city council’s decision in 1914; city was named as Fethiye after Fethi Bey who was the first aviation martyr of Turkish Air force.
Throughout the history, city was demolished by turn-overs and devastated by earthquakes. Except a few lahit and stone tombs there is not much left from the ancient times. Telmessos theatre which was mentioned in 19th century’s voyager’s books and some engraving was unearthed by with the work done by Fethiye Museum. Construction and positioning of the theater emulates the Hellenistic time, however, ruins remained reflects the Roman period. Theater was turned into and arena in 3-4 BC.

 


Telmessos Theater

Some of the earliest ruins that remained from the ancient times are the stone tombs. Most important of them is the Amynthas which was named according to a script that reads ‘Amynthas: son of Hermaipas” on the entrance hall. Facade of the tomb reflects the Ionian Style Temples. In the eastern side of this tomb there lay several other stone tombs as well. Two of them face to the temple and one of them remains uncompleted.

A ruin of a big castle stands close to the city center, built in the middle Ages which were made out of spolia. Castle is mainly settled on bedrock, and no trace of settlement is found. It was used mostly for defense. 

A group of rock tombs in Fethiye

The castle

 



Group of Sarcophagi at the east part of the castle

Lycian tomb next to the District Governors Building



 
 
This project is co-financed by the European Union and the Republic of Turkey