CONSERVATION OF PERGE ANTIQUE CITY, CONSERVATION PROBLEMS AND SOLUTIONS
Prof. Dr. in Restoration, Fac. Of Architecture and Engineering, Head of Dep. of Architecture, Abant Izzet Baysal
V.1. Perge in History
Perge is one of the oldestcities of the Pamphylia Region, whose name means “Land of All Tribes”. The nameof the city, which is not in Greek but rather, probably, in Hittite or Latin,and her first-goddess “Artemis Pergaia”, whose cult reaches far back into timein Anatolia, prove this (1).
It is not possible to putdown an independent and uninterrupted history for the “City of Perge” from itsestablishment. For the fate of the city is linked with that of the Pamphylia Region, in which she islocated. Pamphylia has always been a focus of attention for neighbouringcountries for its strategic position in seafaring and in that respect hasplayed an important role in Antique History (Figure 1). By virtue of its fertilesoil and mild climate, this region has been the birthplace of manycivilisations.
Figure 1. PAMPHYLIA REGION
Excavations in Perge haverevealed important monumental buildings and sculptures that had remainedunderground for about 800 years. About thirty partially embossed and writtenmonumental graves were found on both sides of a graveyard road that leads tothe western city gates in the excavations conducted by Prof. Dr. Arif MüfidMansel in the city metropolis in the year 1946. Excavations held in the cityAcropolis and in the yard of a church on the west sides of İyilik Tepe (Hill)to uncover the Artemis Pergaia Temple were unfruitful. In the years 1953-1957,the Hellenistic period gates for the city, the yard behind that, the arc withthree passages and one-thirds of the road with columns were unearthed. Work wascontinued on the road with columns between the years 1967-1969, and the squarebetween the Hellenistic gates and the late-antique period gates and thebuildings surrounding it were completely uncovered (Figure 2).
Figure 2. HELLENISTIC GATE(RECONSTRUCTION)
In excavations led by Prof.Jale İnan, the 3-metre-long body of the Great Alexander statue (1985), themagnificent statue of the Wine God Dionysos (1987), and about 300 statues ofgods and kings were found. In the theatre excavation, a 65-metre long embossing(frieze) that depicts the events following the birth of god Dionysos, a 4-metrehigh statue of the God Hermes and the statue of Emperor Heraclis. All thesefindings are indications that Perge was the most important centre of art andculture of her period after the first half of the second century, AD. Today,many works exhibited in the Antalya Museum come from the Perge excavations(Figure 3).
Figure 3. SCULPTURE OF DANCERFROM PERGE EXCAVATIONS
Architecture, sculpture andthe art of decoration were well developed in Perge. For instance, the ItalianBaroque style is dominant in the embossments in the theatre. This is anindication that this style was present and in use in Anatolia long before.
Since the year 1988, formerexcavations were continued in the downtown excavations led by Prof. Dr. HalukAbbasoğlu, and formerly unexplored residences and shops are still beingexcavated.
Perge has gone through threesignificant periods:
1. The First Period is in the Hellenistic Era, in the 3rdand 2nd centuries BC. It is demonstrated by magnificent walls andtowers, which are only partly standing today.
2. The Second Period belongs tothe Era of the Roman Empire, 2ndand 3rd centuries AD; it is illustrated by many monuments (theatre,stadium, columned streets, bathhouses, monumental fountains, gymnasium and theagora) which are still standing (Figure 4) .
Figure 4. SOUTH NYMPHEUM (MONUMENTAL FOUNTAIN)
3. In fact, these show thatPerge was an important town in the 3rd century, which was, in general,a period of chaos and decline in Anatolia, that she had been made the “metropolis”, that is, a state centrewhere Roman prefects and officers resided, in the time of Emperor Tacitus. Sidewas that centre prior to Perge.
4. The last period of plentyfalls into the Christian period (5thand 6th centuries AD). In that period the town was once again a “metropolis”, but this time a “metropolitan” centre within the churchestablishment; along with repairing her walls and extending them southwards,she was decorated with many churches, their extensions and new districtsforming around them. However, the raids by mountain tribes on one side andArabs on the other, coupled with the development of Antalya (Attalia),neighbour and rival to Perge, and Antalya becoming the capital of a ByzantineTheme in the 8th century have caused Perge to decline (Figure 5).
Figure 5. ANTALYA AT THE END OF THE 19TH CENTURY
Perge was ruined during theSelçuk and Arab raids that continued on from the 12th century andwas deserted by her people. Some historians suggest that the people retired tothe Acropolis and lived there for some time, mingling with the Turkish wains,and that the Acropolis corresponds to the KarahisarıTeke mentioned by Evliya Çelebi.
TheAcropolis of Perge rises in the north; the main city is placed in the flatlandssouth of that hill. In the Hellenistic Period, the city was surrounded bywalls, which were reinforced by towers. Since the Roman territories reached upto the Britannia Islands all the way from Mesopotamia, thus Anatolia was intotal security brought about by “pax romana”, the walls had lost their importance and some of those weredestroyed to extent the city southwards. Large bathhouses, the Agora, thesquare between the two gates and its surrounding buildings were placed in thispart (2) (Figure 6). However, when the tribes living in northern mountainousregions started coming down to the plain and gradually started making morefrequent raids, defensive structures were reconsidered, old walls wererepaired, and new walls built in the south to defend the buildings in thatregion.
Figure 6 . PERGE PLAN / MAIN MONUMENTAL BUILDINGS
Perge is divided into fourparts or districts by two large columned streets, one lying in a north-south,the other in a east-west direction. These streets, which are formed by apavement part and wide water channel in the middle and columned galleries andshops behind them alongside, are not perfectly straight lines but they curve atcertain points (Figure 7).
Figure 7. GENERAL VIEW OF THE CITY FROM SOUTH
Thus, like in some otherPamphylia towns, a regular “Hippodamos”plan could not be constructed in Perge, either. The main temples and the famous“Artemis Pergaia Temple” werepositioned out of town. The top of the main entrance was in the shape of arectangular room covered by three separate arcs, round towers up to
15 m. in height were to theeither side and behind it was an oval yard.
Since these “town gates with yards” are also presentin Side and Sillyon, it might be said of them that they are characteristic ofthe Panphylian towns. In the Roman Empire period, this part has beentransformed to an honour yard with a religious character. In that respect, itresembles the Hadrianus gates in Antalya and Athens closely. Right in front ofthe western round tower of the square, there are three cells containing astatue each and a monumental door (propylon)leading to the great bathhouse beyond, and slightly ahead is positioned amonumental fountain belonging to the time of Emperor Septimus Severus. Thenymphaeum, another of which is placed on the outskirts of the Acropolis,contains a large rectangular pool, and two semicircular basins for facilitatingthe people getting water in front of a fasadwall decorated by a two-story column architecture.
V.2. The Byzantine Period and Afterwards
The Early Christian andByzantine Period history of Perge between the 7th and the 10thcenturies is dark, when the preceding periods are considered. Although there exists a great body ofknowledge for the pre-Byzantine period, especially the archaeologicalresearches are insufficient on the subject of Byzantine works. Perge metChristianity in the 1st century AD. Paulos, of the Apostles ofJesus, passed through Perge in the first of his four journeys to spread thisnew faith. It is unthinkable that Christianity spread quickly in Perge, whichhad assimilated the Artemis culture for long centuries. Considering that theChristian buildings found until today date back to the 4th, 5thand 6th centuries AD, it can be assumed that this religion gatheredpower earliest in the 6th century. Attalia (Antalya), which had beengaining significance starting from 6th century AD, became themetropolis; along with that, Perge, joining her close neighbour Sillyon(Yarköy) to the west, took the title “bishop metropolitan”. The westerntravellers and scientists who saw the region in the 19th century (Texier,Hirchfelt, Lancoronski and Rot) provided the first pieces of information aboutthe Christian era buildings in Perge.
While the pre-Christian Erais being systemically researched in Perge archaeological excavations, adetailed study of Byzantine period works has not been done to date. Of the mostimportant buildings that prove the Byzantine settlement in Perge are twobasilicas which are located within the city walls and which are designatedChurch A and Church B (or bishop church) in publications. Apart from these twobuildings, there is a church on the hill named Eyilik Belen to the south of thetown, Byzantine vaults in the Acropolis, chapels carved into stone and wallremains whose identity remain indeterminate. Moreover, Byzantine ceramics wererecovered, in however small amounts they may be, within the Acropolis; and thishas given rise to the idea that the Acropolis might have been the mainresidential area in the late Byzantine period. It is stated that there are manyvaults belonging to the Byzantine period around and within the Acropolis. Smallchapels are carved into the rocks overlooking the Ağlar Brook behind theAcropolis.
Byzantine remains are alsolocated on and around the hill known as İyilik Belen, which is placed southeastof the main settlement. Starting with a church found in Akşıdil Akarcabeli andpottery recovered on western and southern foothills, it can be maintained thatthis was an important district in the Byzantine period. The Byzantine worksoutside the city walls consist of the vaults within and around the Acropolis,of wall remains, of rock chapels, of a church on İyilik Belen and of Byzantinegraves, and a satisfying investigation of those is yet to be conducted. Thereis insufficient data about the Turkish period in Perge. There is no databelonging to the Turkish period, save some Selçuklu and Ottoman porcelain tilesrecovered in researches and excavations conducted in Perge.
Pamphylian towns, includingPerge, were open to the Moslem raids coming from the southeast beginning in the7th century AD; and their importance was lost with the ByzantineEmpire waning in power in the eastern and southern borders. Perge was includedin the Selçuklu land by I. Gıyaseddin Keyhüsrev (1027); she was put under therule of Hamidoğulları Barony in 1299.
V.3. Perge Today,Preservation Problems and Suggestions
18 km. away from Antalya and 2 km. north of the Aksusettlement (Figure 8 / Plan of PERGE). It was suggested that Perge be includedin the municipality area borders of the town and be preserved and utilised asan “Archaeological Park” in the Antalya 2015 Master Plan. Visitors to Aspendos,Sillyon and Perge mostly stay in Antalya and the tourism centres around (Belek,Side, Kumköy, Bingeţik, Manavgat, Alanya etc.) and in the Southern AntalyaTourism Centre, and they come to Perge for daily tours. According to 1992 data,Southern Antalya has beds for about 35000. This capacity will increase up to180000 until the year 2010. Therefore, forecasts exceeding 100% are possiblefor the number of visitors to Perge.
Aksu has gone through almostno development towards tourism. There are no tourism-inclined establishmentssave for a few restaurants lying on the Alanya-Antalya road. Perge being
2 km away, the tours fromoutside make almost no contribution to the economy of Aksu (and that ofÇalkaya). However, it is foreseen that hotels, pensions, restaurants and unitsfor the sale of tourism-gift shops would choose locations around theMunicipality and around the entrance gate to Perge.
The road connecting Aksuwith the villages in the north go through Perge; a dense traffic right in frontof the antique theatre and the stadium, especially the heavy sand-trucktraffic, cause great security problems. The stage of the Theatre has collapseddue to the damage done by vibrations in time. To prevent further damage to theTheatre and to the stadium, this road has to be removed urgently, as wassuggested in the Perge Preservation Plan (5).
Figure 8. PLAN OF PERGE
The entrance to the AntiqueTown is in the part which is now in front of the Hellenistic Late Periodentrance. With the parking lot, ticket booths, gift shop unit and open-air cafébuilt in the years 1989-1990, this part was arranged and the aim was to meetthe demand. This entrance is problematic in terms of security and tour routes;when the historical development of the city is examined and the monumentalbuildings (theatre, hippodrome) was considered, it can be understood that thisarea is almost in the middle of the City, in the town centre for the antiquecity. Therefore, the main entrance establishments for the Antique City shouldbe moved to the part where there is a possibility that the colonnaded road willcontinue, near the I. Degree Archaeological Site Border in the south. Today,there is absolutely no control in the Perge ruins and its proximity. Controlshould be provided by, at least, a metal-net fence; the free movements of sheepand cattle within the Antique City should be restricted. Unregistered andunlawful buildings are becoming denser, especially on the fertile agricultural land in the III.Degree Archaeological Site. An unlawful district has formed, complete with itsschool and mosque, to the east of the Acropolis and to the north of the Moslemgraveyard. These unlawful buildings should be prevented; they should be frozenand evacuated in time. In these regions, healthy scientific investigations inthe future require minimal, if possible no, building activities.
Seasonal agriculture couldbe carried out in this area. However, hothousing should be avoided on accountof security and visual pollution. Irrigated agriculture should be forbidden toprotect possible works underground; dry agriculture could be allowed oncondition that the works that might be unearthed during tilling be turned in tothe nearest Administrative Unit (District Managers and Museum Managers).
The greatest silhouette andvisual pollution problems for the Perge Antique City are created by the AksuAntbirlik Strand Factory, with its water reservoir, transformer and energytransfer lines (the posts and the cables) (Figure 9).
Figure 9. ANTIQUE STADIUM AND AKSU ANTBIRLIK STRAND FACTORY, WITH ITSWATER RESERVOIR, TRANSFORMER AND ENERGY TRANSFER LINES
Therefore, firstly the waterreservoir should be carried to another, visually ineffective area and berebuilt buried underground. The removal/transfer of the transformer and theenergy lines are also needful for the preservation of the quality of Perge (6).
This part (Koca Belen Hill)has been designated III. Degree Archaeological Site during the preservationplan studies. Visitors should be enabled to watch this extraordinary sight bythe creation of panoramic sight-watch terraces, seating places and observationpoints, especially in the yard of the Teachers’ School and the parts ofthe Strand Factory yards that facePerge. The İyilik Belen Hill also provides a panoramic scene of Perge and theAcropolis. This part has also been designated a I. Degree Archaeological Sitebecause of the existence of a possible Byzantine settlement. A great part of Perge liesunderground, unexplored (Figure 10).
Figure 10. PERGE ANTIQUE CITY TODAY
Especially, data anddocuments related to the Byzantine Period are scant to the point of nonexistence.Therefore, first priority archaeological excavations and researches should beconducted in the Acropolis and its foothills, and in the eastern and western necropolices.
The Museum Management ofAntalya and The Council of Preservation of Cultural and Natural Values ofAntalya should form a “Perge Preservation-Development Unit” to direct theapplications in Perge and to be able to support the Municipality of Aksu. TheAksu Municipality should also form a “Department of Preservation andDevelopment of the Perge Archaeological Site”, which would especially berelated to controlling and directing the applications in the III. Degree Site,and to the arrangement and maintenance of the entrance and resting points ofthe Antique City.
Towards the goal of preservingPerge, which is a World Architectural Heritage, and of the healthy applicationof planning decisions, the applications by the Aksu Municipality should beprovided with financial resources, project support and advising services by theDepartment of Preservation of Cultural and Natural Valuables of the Ministry ofCulture. An active “Perge Preservationand Development Unit” should be formed within the Department itself.
These units would strive formaterial and technical aid in the form of aids, loans, donations and the likefrom domestic and international establishments and organisations related toenvironment arrangements, maintenance, excavations and preservation forscientific researches (UNESCO, ICCROM, the World Bank, TAÇ Foundation, TuringOrganisation etc.). Moreover, civilian society organisations such as banks, private sector establishments,companies, groups and the like should be encouraged to support the work on thepreservation-aimed environmental arrangements by means of campaigns; a fundshould be formed to obtain the involvement and contributions of the people.
Incomes from museums andruins are gathered by the Rotating-Capital Management of the Ministry ofCulture, and 40% of museum incomes are given to the municipalities (7). The lawrequires that the Municipality should be given a share in “museum entrancefees”; the entrances to ruins areexcluded from the mentioned law coverage. The entrance fees to the PergeAntique City should be given in part to the Aksu Municipality for the sole aimsof utilisation in the maintenance, repair and environmental arrangements.Moreover, in the parts which are within the I. Degree Archaeological Site,which is to be publicised, the III. Degree Archaeological Site, and the partsto be arranged into the Antique City gates should be publicised according tothe “Exchange Directives” and the application should thus be hastened (8).
Some funds should be setaside primarily from the budget of the Ministry of Culture for the arrangementof the new entrance gates to the Perge Antique City. The Aksu Municipalitywould financially and technically participate in this arrangement; an effectiveapplication would be obtained with tool and personnel support during the work.
The Antalya Province CultureDepartment is planning educational efforts in districts and villages on thesubject of “The Prevention of Smuggling and Damaging of Old Works.” The effortsto awareness are being held in the villages and towns close to ruins and theirsurroundings. The subject is being announced to the people of the region byvillage leaders, elementary school students and teachers, and mosque imams; andmeetings are being held.
The awareness of preservingthe historical environment of the people of the settlements around the PergeAntique Town should be nurtured, especially by the Aksu Municipality, bysupporting the efforts mentioned above by activities such as exhibitions,contests, seminars, panels etc.
1. PEKMAN, A., 1989, “History ofPerge In the Light of Recent Excavations and Researches”, Premium Council of AtatürkCulture, Language and History, Turkish History Council Publications, VII.
2. İDİL, V., 1992, “History of Antique City of Perge”, Perge Conservation PlanResearch Report, Akman Project Co., s. 27-39.
3. PEKAK, S., 1992, “Christianity (Byzantine) Period Monuments In Perge”, Perge Conservation PlanResearch Report, Akman Project Co., s. 40-51.
4. Antalya Master Plan Research Report (1/25000-1/5000 Scales), April1996, UTTAPlanning and Project and Consulting Co., Ank.
5. Council of AntalyaPreservation of Historical and Natural Assets, A.K.T.K.K.K.07.00.1.1. Numberedand 18.05.1992 Dated Official Paper.
6. TUNÇER, M., 1992, “Perge Conservation Plan Report”, Perge Conservation PlanResearch Report, Akman Project Co.
7. Ministry of Culture, 2252 Numbered Law.
8. 08.02.1990 Dated and 20427 Numbered Governmental Paper, “Kesin İnşaat YasağıGetirilen Korunması Gerekli Taşınmaz Kültür ve Tabiat Varlıklarının BulunduğuSit Alanlarındaki Taşınmaz Malların Hazineye Ait Taşınmaz Mallar İle DeğiştirilmesiHakkındaki Yönetmelik”