After Arpaz we returned to Nazilli and then continued to Aydın where we turned south for Ʃne and the acient site of Alabanda.

After Arpaz we returned to Nazilli and then continued to Aydın where we turned south for Ʃne.  In the middle of Ʃne you turn right and follow the brown signs for Alabanda, the final ancient site we wanted to visit on this trip.  According to Freely “Strabo lists Alabanda as one of the three principal cities in the interior of Caria in his time.”  Strabo also noted that “Alabanda is a city of people who live in luxury and debauchery, containing many singing girls who play the harp”.  Who could resist it following that mention?

Alabanda is another Cibyra – a vast ruined city where a tiny part has been excavated.  In this case excavations are being carried out by the Director of Aydın Museum who has also had to deal with the problem Evrim faced at Aphrodisias – his site also contains a Turkish village.  However, forty years on from when Evrim started, the villagers have moved away in search of work, or died off, and the Museum has already bought several of the existing old stone houses which will eventually be demolished.  One house, lower down the hill which rises in the centre of Alabanda, has been lovingly restored, and is the headquarters of the excavation team, plus provides a base for the security guard who sells the entry tickets.  We drove straight past this house and the guard had to run up the hill after us to collect our 2YTL entry fees.  He was clearly glad of our company and proceeded to guide us around the site for no extra charge. 

{mosimage}The theatre, or what remains of it, has been excavated.  Much of it was destroyed in Byzantine times when the marble seats were ripped out and reused and the bottom of the theatre was turned into a swimming pool.  Given the heat on the day we visited perhaps they should consider recreating this Byzantine pool, and maybe visitor numbers would increase.  The ticket seller told us, following our visit, he had now sold 9 tickets during July but May and June had been ‘busy’ with 3 or 4 visitors per day.
We climbed up one side of the theatre and were rewarded with a comprehensive view of the entirety of Alabanda.  Fellows, famous for his wholesale plundering of this area for the British Museum, visited Alabanda in 1838 and commented on the solidity of its massive stone structures, and the almost complete absence of decoration or inscription which would help date/explain them.  Of course, their plainness meant he also didn’t bother to cart any bits away.

Our guide led us down the hill and across a dusty field to the bouleterion, the front wall of which is still standing to a height of over nine metres.  And then it was back to the car and the final part of the journey home.  If you are driving north of Muğla, and have time to spare, go and see Alabanda as yet another example of an ancient site itching to be excavated – and let us know what you think about it.

And that is the end of the latest Fethiye Times camping trip.  A busy two days but well worth it.  In total we only covered 300 miles but, given all that we saw en route, it felt like we had done much more than that.

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