Wednesday, November 12, 2014


Boris Dreyer (ed.), Die Surveys im Hermos- und Kaystrostal und die Grabungen an den Thermen von Metropolis sowie am Stadion von Magnesia am Mäander (Ionien): neue Methoden und Ergebnisse. Ergebnisse der internationalen und interdisziplinären Konferenz an der Universität Erlangen-Nürnberg vom 3.11.2012. Orient & Occident in antiquity / Orient & Okzident in der Antike, Bd 1. Berlin; Münster; Wien; Zürich; London: LIT Verlag, 2014. Pp. 200. ISBN 9783643124005. €39.90.

Reviewed by Stefan Feuser, Universität Rostock (

Version at BMCR home site


The book under review is the first volume of a new serial Orient & Occident in Antiquity / Orient & Okzident in der Antike edited by Boris Dreyer of Erlangen-Nürnberg University and Serdar Aybek of Celal Bayar University of Manisa. As the editors state in a short introduction the aim of the serial is to publish promptly the results of research in ancient Asia Minor. The first volume achieves this aim as it presents the papers of a conference held in 2012. It is a rather heterogenous collection of five articles in German and three in English on recent archaeological and epigraphical work at the ancient city of Metropolis in Ionia and its hinterland, on a survey in the Hermus valley north of Izmir, on archaeological excavations and epigraphical work in the stadium of Magnesia ad Maeandrum and on an epigraphical database under construction. Introductory or closing remarks bringing together the different contributions are not included.

Recep Meriç presents a short overview of the history of the Hermus valley from the 14th c. BC up to Ottoman times with parentheses on place names and contemporary local architecture. As the valley was an important trade route between the gulf of Izmir and inner Anatolia one awaits the publication announced by Meriç for the Ergänzungshefte des Österreichischen Archäologischen Instituts.

The next five articles are concerned with archaeological and epigraphical work in and around Metropolis in Ionia. An introductory text putting the different projects in context would have been helpful. In the longest article of the volume Boris Dreyer, Kristina Fleischmann and Günther Schörner present the first results of their work in the hinterland of the city. The aim of their project is to detect the ancient settlement systems in the Kaystros valley and to study the relationships between Metropolis as urban centre and the rural periphery (22). The epigraphic work presented by Boris Dreyer is mainly focused on inscriptions from the rural settlement of Chandria and a boundary stone that marked one of the estates belonging to the sanctuary of Artemis of Ephesus. Günther Schörner gives a thorough introduction to the intensive survey conducted at the Sinektepe, a small mound southeast of Metropolis, that was an island in the so-called stagnum Pegaseum in ancient times and one of the earliest settled places in the surroundings of Metropolis.1 The reflections on survey methodology and the interpretation of the find assemblages are of importance as Schörner discusses methods for compensating for varying ground visibilities that have not been applied to surveys in Asia Minor. The size of the site might indicate that the settlement on Sinektepe was a large farmstead or a small village in early and middle Roman Imperial times (42), whereas the spectrum of finds emphasizes the function of living rather than of working (46). Four terracotta figurines and the continuous occupation of the site for 1000 years might indicate a sacral function, as already Meriç has pointed out.2 One wonders whether the possible location on an island may also hint towards an interpretation of the site as a sanctuary rather than of a rural settlement. As the survey at Sinektepe is only the starting point of a broader project on the hinterland of Metropolis, the application of geoarchaeological methods might further enhance the knowledge on the development of the area of the former stagnum Pegaseum. In a subsequent overview, Kristina Fleischmann presents decorated pottery, fragments of lamps, terracotta figurines, glass, loom weights, metal nails and fragments of beehives from the Geometric to Byzantine periods, with the majority from the Roman imperial period.

The following four articles concentrate on different aspects of urban Metropolis. Aygün Ekin Meriç presents a short overview on the typology of Hellenistic pottery from Metropolis. Her examples are not from closed contexts but from different areas of the city; the dating is mainly based on parallels from Ephesus. Fragments of misfired pottery and moulds are evidence of local production. It would have been helpful for the reader if Meriç had connected the contexts of the pottery discussed with their proposed dating more thoroughly rather than just presenting a short typology.

Serdar Aybek presents the excavations at the so-called lower Roman bath started in 2003 with an appendix on a building inscription and an honorary decree by Boris Dreyer. The complex is divided into rooms of a bath with a hypocaust system – later likely converted into a caravanserai – and a huge peristyle with adjacent rooms interpreted as a palaestra. The peristyle was lavishly equipped: the courtyard was paved with marble, the adjacent rooms were furnished with mosaics, statues with inscribed bases were erected and an inscription was placed on the architraves of the porticos stating that the complex was dedicated to the gods and to emperor Antoninus Pius. Aybek sees strong parallels between the complex in Metropolis and the gymnasium of Vedius in Ephesus. However, one wonders whether the bath and the peristyle belonged to one building complex or were rather two complexes with different functions. As Aybek states it will be crucial for future research to determine the relationship of the complexes.

Marc Vetter presents the possibilities for applying methods of geodesy and for using geo-referenced data at Metropolis. He gives a useful account on the current state of the art in measuring with GPS and in the use of GIS as well as a visualization of both the Byzantine walls and the acropolis walls. The methods described are actually widely used at archaeological excavations in Turkey and beyond, despite what Vetter implies here.3 The section on Metropolis is completed by Aike van Douwe with an account on the chronology of decree A of the inscription of Apollonius published by Boris Dreyer and Helmut Engelmann in 2003.4 Contra Christopher Jones he argues for dating the inscription to May, 130 BC.

The excavations of 2009 to 2012 in the stadium of Magnesia ad Maeandrum and the discovery of a large number of inscribed seat reservations (the actual number is not given) are presented by Boris Dreyer and Orhan Bingöl. Such inscriptions can be found in several stadiums in Asia Minor, though not this many of them. A chronology is difficult to establish, but most seem to have been inscribed in the 2nd c. AD. Among other important pieces of information, like the number of the spectators and details about the festival of Artemis Leucophryene, the inscriptions reveal that in Roman imperial times the local society was mainly organized around cultic associations or guilds rather than political entities as was the case in Classical and Hellenistic times.

The last article by Marvin Holdenried, Charlotte Roueché and Martin Scholz introduces in a rather technical manner the Epigraphische Datenbank Erlangen-Nürnberg (EDEN). The database is intended to contain the inscriptions of Metropolis, Magnesia ad Maeandrum and Apollonia ad Rhyndacum and might later include inscriptions from other locations in Asia Minor. The authors rightly underline the importance and advantages of online publications of epigraphical (and archaeological) material in form of databases. In EDEN the inscriptions are intended to be presented with scientific commentary and translations in German and English, the type of inscription, language(s), place of discovery, and bibliography. One hopes the database will be fully online in the near future as an open-access tool for research on the three cities.

The conference papers give good preliminary reports on the ongoing projects in and around Metropolis and Magnesia ad Maeandrum. All articles have German, English and Turkish abstracts. Four different indices make the publication easily accessible. The highly anticipated and rapid publication of the conference papers have allowed a few minor typos to creep into the volume. Several of the plans are small, blurry and hard to read; the drawings of pottery shards are either in different scale or without a given scale, which makes comparisons impossible. Future volumes of the serial should have improved plans and figures.

The new serial is a welcome contribution to the study of ancient Asia Minor and important as a collaboration of Turkish and foreign archaeologists and historians. The first volume underlines the importance and fruitfulness of such collaborations and one hopes that further research is published as quickly as these conference papers.


1.   Recep Meriç, Metropolis in Ionien. Ergebnisse einer Survey-Unternehmung in den Jahren 1972-1975, Königstein, 1982, 11 f.; Recep Meriç, Das Hinterland von Ephesos. Archäologisch-topographische Forschungen im Kaystros-Tal, Wien, 2009, 64.
2.   Recep Meriç, Das Hinterland von Ephesos. Archäologisch-topographische Forschungen im Kaystros-Tal, Wien, 2009, 64.
3.   See for example Felix Pirson, "Pergamon – Bericht über die Arbeiten in der Kampagne 2012," Archäologischer Anzeiger 2013/2, 79-83 or the articles in Katja Heine et al. (ed.), Von Handaufmass bis High Tech III, Mainz, 2011.
4.   Boris Dreyer – H. Engelmann, Die Inschriften von Metropolis. Die Dekrete für Apollonios, Inschriften griechischer Städte aus Kleinasien 63/1, Bonn, 2003 and the review by Christopher Jones, "Events surrounding the bequest of Pergamon to Rome and the Revolt of Aristonicos: new inscriptions from Metropolis," Journal of Roman Archaeology 17, 2004, 469-485.

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