Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Hilton in the Forum of Valens?

Rumours that a "Hilton" was being built on the site of the Forum of Valens have swirled for a couple of years now. The brand name may be wrong but the latest discovery on the site would seems to suggest that we are talking of a site that could very well be the long-lost forum that was redesigned by the Emperor Valens. The area had structures built by the Romans as far back as Julius Caesar, while others such as Tiberius and Commodus has added to the mix.

The article recording the discovery is here:

The site photo in the article shows the massive area uncovered.

Our thoughts are that 3,000 sq metres of marble paving is not even one of the famed marble streets but quite clearly a very large open space. Morover the 850 sq metre mosaic uncovered is clearly not a domestic structure to have a room of such dimensions and could very well be one of the many basilicas the surrounded the forum, or the Library (the Museion) or some other significant structure.

Here is the google maps view:

This is an enormous shame that this will be buried in a "museum" in the hotel's basement. There should be no building at all in the still lightly covered northern section of the old walled city. While the mayor of Antakya gets all excited about tourists he should maybe look to Ephesus to see what his real potential could be rather than building over the sites. This hotel should go somewhere else.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

A Triple Arch/Gate

The search for information on Antioch is now reduced to serendipity as so much of what is left extant is known. Well may we say that "there is little new under the sun" for what we need to know still remains out of daylight.

In my peregrinations I stumbled upon an article in Revue archeologique, Volume 4, Part 1 of 1847 entitled "Arc de Triomphe de Theveste" by Antoine Jean Letronne.

"A la troisième espèce, tripyle, appartiennent les arcs qui se composent de trois portes : une grande pour les voitures, deux petites pour les piétons. Tels sont les arcs de Septime Sévère et de Constantin à Rome, l'arc d'Auguste à Fano, la porte d'Herculanum à Pompéi, la porte d'Autun, deux des portes de Lambésa. Je pense que c'est une de ce genre qui était désignée par le mot tripylon, dans un passage où Théophane parle d'une porte d'Antioche qu'il désigne par η πυλη τηζ πολεωζ επι το χαλουμενον τριπυλον , ce qui veut dire que cette porte d'Antioche était formée par un arc triple, comme celle d'Autun ; et l'on peut même conclure de l'expression το λεγομενον τριπυλον , que cette porte était à Antioche la seule de ce genre.

The passage from Theophanes' Chronographia page 36 (ed.Bonn).

What this effectively tells us is that one of the city gates was a triple gate with a large central arch for traffic and two side arches for pedestrians to pass through. As most of the city gates were at the riverside, it would seem that Theophanes is most likely talking about either the Beroea gate or the gates leading to Daphne, the internal Cherubim gate and the external Golden Gate.