Sunday, April 27, 2014


Johannes Christian Linnemann, Die Nekropolen von Diokaisareia. Diokaisareia in Kilikien, Bd 3. Berlin; Boston: De Gruyter, 2013. Pp. xv, 247; 64 p. of plates. ISBN 9783110257359. $238.00.

Reviewed by Hugh Elton, Trent University (

Version at BMCR home site

Table of Contents

This is the third publication in the series devoted to recent survey work at Diocaesarea in Isauria (Turkey), which took place between 2001 and 2006 under the direction of Detlev Wannagat. Earlier volumes covered the theatre and the surface survey. This work is a revised version of the author's 2008 PhD dissertation on the city's cemeteries. The city's five cemeteries contain about 750 tombs, a large number for the region, though comparable to nearby Corycus. Like the majority of rock-cut cemeteries in southern Anatolia, this is a difficult topic to study. Even leaving aside the hazards of goats, broken glass, and unfriendly vegetation, the vast majority of rock-cut tombs are undateable stylistically, contain no grave goods, and are rarely inscribed. Since Diocaesarea was occupied from at least the fourth century BC to the seventh century AD, these are the dating limits for the cemetery, even though occasional tombs may be dated more closely, typically to the second or third century AD. This volume contains nothing on the spectacular Hellenistic tower tomb on the south side of the city though a separate publication is forthcoming. After a brief survey of the city and the necropoleis, Linnemann provides analytical chapters on sarcophagi (including chamosoria and lids), rock-cut tombs (arcosolia, arcosolia chamber tombs, chamber tombs, niches), grave buildings, and funerary altars. A descriptive chapter on the inscriptions is then followed by a brief analytical chapter. Next is a brief conclusion, an 80 page catalogue of the tombs, no index, and 64 pages of colour plates. The latter give a good sense of what the tombs look like for those who have not visited, but give little sense of the difficulties of recording the archaeology of Rough Cilicia in the summer.

A brief study of the city was published by Keil and Wilhelm in MAMA 3: Denkmäler aus dem rauhen Kilikien in 1931, which devoted 36 pages to the site; there are also some earlier studies on the inscriptions. Leaving aside the fact that the MAMA volume is relatively hard to obtain, what does this volume add to our understanding of the cemetery? Linnemann has created a detailed plan of the cemeteries with tomb locations by type, a good replacement for the plan in Keil and Wilhelm that is too small to be useful in studying the cemetery. The new plans are on seven fold- outs at the back, all folded in the middle and not likely to wear well; digital plans might have been better.

As in other rock-cut cemeteries in Isauria, the majority of the tombs are arcosolia, chamosoria, and chamber tombs. The generous photographs help give a sense of what the individual tombs looked like, though line drawings are usually better at showing the whole tombs; there are good examples in publications of nearby cemeteries, e.g. Alföldi- Rosenbaum, The Necropolis of Adrassus (Balabolu) in Rough Cilicia (Isauria) (1980) and Machatschek, Die Nekropolen und Grabmäler im Gebiet von Elaiussa-Sebaste und Korykos im Rauhen Kilikien (1967). There are a few other tombs, including 16 freestanding sarcophagi. The modern village also contains another eight freestanding sarcophagi, probably moved from the necropoleis. Their forms are typical of the region's sarcophagi, though the two lion lid sarcophagi are similar to the large high quality examples from Adrassus (one of which is now in the Mut tea garden) and much more finely carved than the smaller examples from Sinobuç. There are also two temple tombs, three 'grave houses', and a column monument, all of which have local Isaurian parallels. The focus is generally on the tombs rather than the cemeteries. There is thus little discussion of the arrangement of types of tombs, particularly the small clusters around open courts, a pattern also found at Elaiussa and Adrassus, though Linnemann does include a sketch of one of the large tomb complexes (83). The catalogue includes dimensions of the tombs and their orientations, though nothing is done with this data.

The two short chapters covering the inscriptions are a little frustrating. Texts are presented of 45 inscriptions, all previously published, though 18 are now lost. Unfortunately, the readings have been taken uncritically from Hagel and Tomaschitz, Repertorium der westkilikschen Inschriften (1998), which cannot be relied on for the texts. Thus too often the uncertainties presented by the original publications are elided. As a single example of the sort of difficulties unaddressed, the translation of one stone as a supposed 'ninth indiction of Gratian' (131) can only be explained grammatically by looking at the sketch in MAMA 3 p. 75. The photograph here (Taf. 33.4) is of little help, though it does show how hard the stone is to read. At the same time, there is no editorial comment on a text that does not fit the standard formula for indiction dating. There are also references to two unpublished Christian inscriptions of deacons (237), presumably forthcoming elsewhere. Two tables briefly analyse the names and occupations from the inscriptions to which is added a useful concordance with earlier epigraphic publications. Irritatingly, the catalogue and the chapter on inscriptions are not linked to the plates (though the descriptive chapters on the tombs are), so in some cases the only way to see if there is an illustration of a particular tomb or inscription is by leafing through the plates. The funerary inscriptions from the city show a very different onomasticon from Isaurian cemeteries further inland at Sinobuç and Mut. Roman citizens (either before or after 212) are unusual, and there are no instances of the standard formula of 'this tomb is for so-and-so. If anyone places anyone else in here there is a fine payable to…' frequently found both inland and at Kanytelleis, though there is one involving the underground gods. As at Corycus, a large proportion of the inscriptions are from the Christian period. However, these texts are very different from the inscriptions from the city itself, which include a larger number of Hellenistic inscriptions than elsewhere in the region (on the Hellenistic period, see the recent valuable article by Tempestata in Hoff and Townsend, eds., Rough Cilicia: New Historical and Archaeological Approaches (2013).

The audience is going to be mostly Isaurian archaeologists and those interested in Anatolian funerary archaeology. Much of the volume is heavy going, the result of a systematic presentation of descriptive data. This volume is, like the other volumes in the series, a lavish production. The colour plates are very nice, but it's very rare that the colour helps to gain a better understanding of the archaeology. This volume would have been a good candidate for electronic publication. Although an e-text is available, the publisher's website lists it at the same price as the physical volume. I don't understand this since the hard cover, colour plates, heavy paper, and large margins that make the physical volume an expensive joy to handle are not significant cost items in electronic publication. So, useful for a few specialists, but given the price it is likely only to be purchased by research libraries.

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