Same reveille call as yesterday’s and the minibus brings us from Kaş to the ancient city of Apollonia, at about one hour drive. On our uphill drive, a large herd of angora goats is barring our road in a solid traffic jam. Ancient skills and knowledge of the goat herder is all it takes to whistle the animals to one side of the road so our bus and other cars can move past. Apollonia lies next to the town of Kılınçlıköy, in fact in the middle of nowhere and we should carry plenty of water.
It feels like an early summer morning when we start out at Kılınçlı where time again has come to a standstill. Roman inspired wooden granaries blend in with crudely piled up stone farmhouses. Our marble rubble path meanders between low stone walls till we reach a wide track that we cross. All of the sudden but not unexpectedly I see Lycian sarcophagi dotting the landscape. One sarcophagus has lions carved on the side beams, looking at each other; another proudly shows a starry sun inspired on the Macedonian emblem - probably a legacy of Alexander the Great’s followers and dating back to the 3rd century BC.
Nearly unnoticed and half buried in the terrain lies a sizeable Roman cistern that must have held many gallons of fresh water for the city. Further down our path we come across a Roman temple-tomb, inspired by the Lycian ones but wider with corner ornamentation representing the tree of life and topped with an Ionic capital which in turn is crowned with a Corinthian acanthus. From the edge above, Medusa is looking down on us – just as she did in Roman times. Behind it, runs a polygonal wall that must have been part of a Heroon dating back to the 5th or 4th century BC.
It is not known how important Apollonia was in Lycian times, although we do know that it had a place in the Lycian League, sharing its one vote with Aperlai and Istlada mid 2nd century BC, because of the coins that were discovered carrying the abbreviation AΠΟ. As far as I can see now, Apollonia was not a big city but ideally located on this hill-island in the middle of the valley floor where hundreds of goats are now grazing among the olive trees.
We walk all the way to the top, getting a closer look at the city walls and towers that were built in all sorts of styles: polygonal, Roman, classical, Byzantine, you name it. One of the city gates, obviously Byzantine, shows a lintel from an earlier Greek or Roman temple crowned with a bow of bricks alternating with carved stones in a colorful pattern. Since no noticeable excavations have been done we have to crawl on hands and feet underneath the gate to jump to the lower floor of a well preserved Byzantine Basilica.
The theater of which only five or six rows remaining was built on a natural slope. This seems to indicate that it dates back to Hellenistic times. Further among the ruins we find the bottom part of an antique olive grinder, a perfectly circular grove in the rock with a run off channel for the oil on the side. Fascinating! We have not invented anything new!