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Lycian Tombs


Rock tomb in Myra. Photo Jona Lendering.
Rock tomb in Myra
Lycian tombs: a type of sarcophagus-shaped tomb, only known from Lycia.

In Antiquity, the bodies of the dead could be cremated or inhumated. The remains were buried: often in an urn, sometimes in a real tomb, occasionally in a mausoleum. The visitor of modern Turkey will, on many places, find ancient tombs, and will quickly recognize the main types: the rock tombs (e.g., Seleucia, Amasia, Myra), the chamber tombs (e.g., Belevi, Demricili), and the Lycian tombs, which are only found in the isolated, mountainous southwest of Turkey. There are more than sixty of them, most of them near the Lycian capital, Xanthus.

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A Lycian tomb from Telmessus. Photo Marco Prins. Lycian tomb in the garden of the Archaeological Museum of Antalya (Turkey). Photo Jona Lendering. A tomb in Lycian style. Photo Marco Prins. Payava's tomb. British Museum, London (Britain). Photo Marco Prins. Payava's tomb. British Museum, London (Britain). Photo Marco Prins.
From Telmessus (Fethiye) Archaeological Museum of Antalya Tomb at Oenoanda Xanthus: Payava's tomb (British Museum) Detail of Payava's tomb
The Lycian tomb on the agora of Xanthus. Photo Marco Prins.
Tomb on the agora of Xanthus
Lycian tombs resemble houses, with a clearly recognizable roof, and sometimes even a door. A very fine example is the tomb of a man named Payava, once in Xanthus but now in the British Museum in London. It dates back to the first quarter of the fourth century, and although it has the customary form, it is decorated in Greek style. Jona Lendering for
Livius.Org, 2003
Revision: 21 April 2010
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