Oinoanda Report 2008

In a two-week preliminary campaign in 2007, the basic areas of work involved in a research programme of several years’ duration on the site were examined and coordinated. Building upon these results, in 2008 a survey campaign of five weeks' duration (5 July – 10 August) was undertaken with the work projects divided into four distinct fields: investigations on the Esplanade, presumed to be where Diogenes’ inscription was displayed; documentation of the fragments of the inscription itself; fresh study of the non-philosophical inscriptions of Oinoanda; and lastly, extensive exploration and examination of the urban terrain and its topographical surroundings.

On the Esplanade, after the initial encouraging results from 2007, topographical documentation by means of terrestrial laser scanning was continued; and this work was now expanded to cover the entirety of the Hellenistic agora and the structures surrounding it. The urban area that has now been three-dimensionally mapped covers approximately 25,000 m2. Once the results have been evaluated, they can be expected to yield essential information for the reconstruction of the urban structure of the agora and its architectural evolution. The same aim was pursued in the survey work, which recorded, by means of drawings, the remains of the buildings that once fronted the Esplanade. In the centre stood the north stoa (Fig. 1), whose architectural debris partly remains in situ, and partly was removed for the construction of an early Byzantine church (Fig. 4) in a hollow some 200m to the southwest of the Esplanade.

3 Ruins of the Byzantine church incorporating architectural remains from the north stoa

Once the thick vegetation had been removed from the latter area, we identified twelve capitals (Fig. 3) and a number of shaft fragments from the sturdy Doric pillars fronted with two semi-columns which once were the dominant feature of the church’s interior. At the site of the north stoa itself a priority was the measurement and documentation of the four remaining entablature fragments.
In addition to the surface work, underground imaging was carried out for the first time within a small sector of the Esplanade, using geophysical methods (Fig. 5).

5 Geophysical prospection in progress on the Esplanade of Oinoanda

Geoelectrical and geomagnetic prospection as well as use of ground-penetrating radar provided promising results. The area is otherwise empty, but underground we detected distinct contours which can be interpreted as the footprints, so to speak, of individual monuments. The geophysical investigations are therefore going to be extended next year to cover the entire area of the Esplanade.

Investigation of Diogenes’ inscription also continued with the aid of various methods. Surveys by GPS enabled us to plot and map the known Diogenes fragments with complete accuracy. Nearly 160 fragments were surveyed in this way (Fig. 6). 7 Survey of the inscription fragments with a laser line scanner Once this work has been completed, it should be possible to make deductions – on the basis of the dispersal of the finds – about the history of the destruction of the monument that carried the inscription and to learn more about its successive re-use in later structures. Above all, the rediscovery of the pieces in the difficult terrain will be considerably easier in future. The GPS survey data will eventually be incorporated in a web-based geographical information system, making the Diogenes fragments accessible virtually; work on this has already begun. The exploration carried out during the survey of the fragments led to the discovery of 26 new fragments of the philosophical inscription. Some of these new fragments are very small and bear only a few letters; others contain complete sentences. Particularly worthy of note is a statement of Diogenes' attitude to Plato's theory of cosmogony. The newly discovered fragments as well as a large number of older finds were documented three-dimensionally by means of the laser line scanner (Fig. 7). The quality of reproduction shown in these first results is comparable to that of squeezes. Thus it will now be possible for the first time to study the Diogenes inscription independently of squeezes – sole specimens which can be viewed only at a few places –, using a tool of comparable value. Also, thanks to the three-dimensional documentation of the stones, the epigraphic record can be closely combined with the architectural record.

Fig.1 Laserscan model of the Esplanade

2 Debris from the north stoa on the Esplanade

4 Doric capital of a pillar of two semi-columns

6 Newly discovered fragment of Diogenes’ inscription

8 Corner part of the polygonal tower with newly discovered inscriptions and recesses for oil lamps

9 View eastwards from the area of the stock-pen over the Xanthos plain

Fresh investigations of the non-philosophical inscriptions of Oinoanda represented a substantial portion of the work conducted this year. In the course of thorough exploration the extensive necropoleis northeast and northwest of the area of the actual city were surveyed. This resulted in the rediscovery of inscriptions and rock-cut reliefs that have not been examined since the 19th century, and in a considerable number of new finds. Of particular interest is a group of inscriptions, including the already known alphabet-oracle, framing a rock-cut tomb. Moreover, exploration in the urban area led to the discovery of an Agoranomion inscription which probably refers to a building at the northeastern edge of the Roman agora. Finally, there are also some remarkable inscription finds from the well preserved section of the Hellenistic city wall at the southern end of the site (Fig. 8). Here two wall inscriptions were unexpectedly found last year on the south side of the polygonal defensive tower. Now more inscribed panels have been found, mostly badly weathered. Some of the wall ashlars on which they were carved have recesses for small oil lamps on their upper edges. (15). One of the more legible inscriptions is addressed to Theos Hypsistos (Supreme God) and thus marks the place out as a ritual site used for the monotheistic religion which spread in the imperial era and which is proclaimed for Oinoanda in the famous Clarian oracle inscription on the other side of the wall, although only attested up to now by a single votive inscription there.

Acting on a suggestion by the local heritage conservation authority, we conducted exploration and surveying in the wider urban area, concentrating on (among other features) the remains of a structure on the very steep northern side of the acropolis hill (Fig. 9). Here we observed a remarkable circular structure about 60m in diameter, whose masonry consisted of relatively small quarry stones piled loosely on top of one another. Exploiting the rocky terrain, this circular wall enclosed a fairly large hollow that is scarcely visible from the plain. The structure was probably a large pen for the livestock that grazed on the plain, and was sited there for strategic reasons. The surveying of this and many other newly observed structures will contribute towards a better understanding of how the city was linked to its surrounding area.

Cooperation partners and others involved in the project

Cooperation partners
Martin Bachmann – DAI Istanbul Department (project direction, architectural research)
Veli Köse – Hacettepe University of Ankara (classical archaeology)

Jürgen Hammerstaedt – University of Cologne, with responsibility for papyrology, epigraphy and numismatics (epigraphy)
Martin Ferguson Smith – formerly of University of Durham (epigraphy)
Nicholas Milner – BIAA (epigraphy)
Tilmann Müller - University of Applied Sciences, Karlsruhe, Institute of Geomatics (laser line scanning)
Harald Stümpel – University of Kiel (geophysics)

Involved in the project
Terrestrial laser scanning of the Esplanade
Ertan Ilter (SEMA/Ankara), Vildan Inan (SEMA/Ankara)

Structural record of the Esplanade and Byzantine church
Eric Laufer (University of Cologne), Dorothea Roos (University of Karlsruhe), Kai Vogel (University of Karlsruhe), Derya Altiner (Mimar Sinan University, Istanbul)

Geophysical prospection on the Esplanade
Ercan Erkul, Christina Klein, Anke Neubert, Christian Cajar

GPS plotting of fragments of Diogenes’ inscription
Martin Ferguson Smith, Jürgen Hammerstaedt (University of Cologne), Esat Güldiken (SEMA/Ankara), Kai Vogel (University of Karlsruhe), Derya Altiner (Mimar Sinan University, Istanbul)

Laser line scanning of  the Diogenes fragments
Tilmann Müller, Konrad Berner, Benjamin Fischer (all from the University of Applied Sciences, Karlsruhe)

Exploration and epigraphic survey
Nicholas Milner (BIAA), Peter Baumeister (DAI Zentrale), Veli Köse (Hacettepe Üniversitesi Ankara), Gregor Staab (University of Cologne), Matylda Obryk (University of Cologne)


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